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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Female athletes are developing elite-level talent at such young ages that professional leagues may soon have to reconsider their eligibility rules.

What's happening: Freshman phenoms Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark likely would have been the first two picks in last week's WNBA draft had they been eligible, sparking a debate about the league's age requirement (22).

  • Olivia Moultrie, a 15-year-old soccer prodigy who turned pro at 13, plays in the NWSL's Portland Thorns' academy but can't make her professional debut until she turns 18 due to league rules.

The backdrop: In 1995, when the NBA's prep-to-pro era began, women's sports were completely unrecognizable compared to what we see today.

  • The USWNT was just 10 years old at the time, the WNBA wouldn't launch for another two years, and Title IX was barely 20 years old and far from realizing the depth and breadth of its impact.
  • Despite reaching new heights in recent years, women's professional sports are still in their relative infancy, with rules that are begging to be rewritten by a new generation.

Between the lines: Beyond the equitable treatment argument, letting teenagers join the pros could simply be a good business decision. 

  • Coming off historic college seasons, Bueckers and Clark would have done wonders for the WNBA's ratings this summer.
  • As for Moultrie, you're telling me you wouldn't tune in to see a 15-year-old pro take on her idols? Prodigies sell.

The bottom line: As young girls come of age in this new era, their talent is evolving. Sooner or later, leagues will need to evolve alongside them.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.