NFL, NBA, MLB & NHL

The big picture

The NBA's engagement problem

What plays well on social media doesn't necessarily make fans want to tune in to the games.

Jan 22, 2020 - Sports
The failure of the NFL's Rooney Rule

The league's Rooney Rule has largely failed to diversify its head coaches.

Jan 16, 2020 - Sports
Increased viewership ups the stakes for the NFL's broadcast rights

Experts predict that its deal prices will go up significantly.

Jan 7, 2020 - Sports
The NBA sets its sights on Africa

Targeting a launch in the spring.

Dec 28, 2019 - Sports
Hockey's moment of reckoning

Hockey is facing the fact that decades-old practices are no longer acceptable.

Dec 12, 2019 - Sports
MLB's plan to overhaul its minor league system

The league wants to sever its parent-club relationship with 42 teams.

Dec 11, 2019 - Sports

All NFL, NBA, MLB & NHL stories

NFL playoffs could expand to 14 teams under new labor agreement

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The NFL and its players' union have informally agreed to restructure the postseason and add a seventh team from each conference for a total of 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Why it matters: If finalized as part of the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, this format change would mark the first playoff expansion since 1990, when the league went from 10 teams to 12.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Sports

Post-up rates are way down in the NBA

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers is defended by Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena on February 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves / Contributor/Getty Images

NBA teams have been steadily abandoning the back-to-the-basket game for years thanks to the three-point explosion and the corresponding rise of stretch fours (and stretch fives). But this season, post-ups are bordering on extinction.

By the numbers: In 2005, 22 teams finished at least 10% of their possessions with a post-up, and zero teams had a post-up rate below 5%.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Sports

Trump pardons former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Edward DeBartolo, Jr. speaks during his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech in 2016. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

President Trump pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., a billionaire convicted in 1998 on gambling fraud charges, in a surprise decision on Tuesday, the AP reports.

The big picture: Under DeBartolo's ownership, the 49ers won five Super Bowls, establishing a dynasty during the 1980s and 1990s. He avoided prison time, but faced a $1 million fine and a yearlong NFL suspension — ultimately relinquishing control of the team to his sister, Denise York, in 2000.

MLB's Rob Manfred is latest villain in Astros' cheating scandal

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's decision to grant Astros players immunity in exchange for confessions about their sign-stealing scheme has undermined his reputation — and he only made himself look worse on Sunday.

The interview: In a 45-minute conversation with ESPN, Manfred asserted that public shame was punishment enough for the Astros. He also called the World Series trophy "just a piece of metal" and said that taking a title away from Houston "seems like a futile act."

Go deeperArrowFeb 18, 2020 - Sports

"The Super Bowl kid" and other sports prodigies

Screenshot: Whistle/YouTube

Just before Super Bowl LIV, Fox aired a video commemorating the NFL's 100th anniversary. It featured a young boy running a football across America, with various NFL legends telling him to "Take it to the house, kid! before switching to the live broadcast, where the young boy ran onto the field and handed the ref the game ball.

Who is he? The star of the commercial is 13-year-old football and track prodigy, Maxwell "Bunchie" Young, who was named SI's "Sportskid of the Year" in 2017 and was recently featured on "No Days Off," a YouTube show about sports prodigies from Whistle (previously Whistle Sports).

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Sports

The MLB's problems extend far beyond Houston's cheating scandal

The Astros' second baseman José Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Astros had three months to craft a thoughtful apology for the team's sign-stealing scandal. Instead, José Altuve and Alex Bregman spoke for a combined 90 seconds — and owner Jim Crane questioned whether sign-stealing even helped his team win games.

The big picture: While baseball grapples with the fallout, don't lose sight of the many other problems Major League Baseball faces as commissioner Rob Manfred enters his sixth season at the helm.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Sports

The Astros' apology tour

The Astros' Jose Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are very sorry for cheating their way to a World Series win, even as their owner bizarrely flip-flopped on whether their cheating changed any games.

Why it matters: The sign-stealing scandal is among the biggest since the steroid era, spilling over into other clubs and giving MLB some nasty publicity.

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Sports

The Negro National League's lasting legacy, 100 years on

Rube Foster (center) and the Chicago American Giants. Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images

100 years ago Thursday, the Negro National League was founded by former pitcher and executive Rube Foster.

Why it matters: The NNL became the first Negro league to achieve stability and last more than one season. It "proved that African American players could play on even terms with their white counterparts — and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Sports

The decline of the basketball shoe

Illustration:Aïda Amer/Axios

Basketball shoe sales are down for the fourth consecutive year, and the industry is being crushed by the athleisure wave.

By the numbers: Basketball shoe sales currently represent less than 5% of the athletic shoe market, a huge drop from their 13% market share in 2014, per research firm NPD.

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Sports

The average NBA team is now worth $2.1 billion

Reproduced from Forbes; Chart: Axios Visuals

The average NBA franchise is now valued at $2.12 billion, per Forbes — a figure that has grown 476% in the past decade.

Why it matters: Thanks to the NBA's international growth and the $24 billion TV deal it signed with ESPN and Turner in 2014, team values have grown at a much faster rate than the other three major U.S. sports leagues.

Go deeperArrowFeb 12, 2020 - Sports
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