As players return to empty arenas, they are discovering a basic truth: Live sports is an act of social imagination.
The first live sports games to air in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic provide a hopeful, yet harrowing, look at the future.
With its deep archival footage of the Bulls legend, The Last Dance was always going to be epic. Now it needs to fill the void of sports writ large.
Sunday’s showing offered a blueprint for a potentially dynamic chapter in professional football.
A social-justice-focused ad that aired during last night’s Super Bowl affirmed a disturbing and all too familiar truth about the league.
Houston’s dominance once looked like the sport’s biggest success story. Now their whole legacy is in doubt.
The MLB has handed harsh penalties to Houston for sign stealing, but revoking the team’s ill-gained 2017 championship is implausible.
Even before Saturday’s game, New England was showing signs of having been passed by.
As the 2019 season enters its final stretch, an entertaining MVP race showcases a less restrictive brand of football.
After a season away, the future Hall of Famer comes back to a league that no longer has much use for him.
For the first time in years, nobody really knows what to expect.
Breaking a pattern of first-round heartbreak, the decade’s most downtrodden playoff team finds itself in the World Series.
The Chicago Cubs say goodbye to the manager who led them to their first World Series victory in 108 years.
After a record-setting regular season, the MLB playoffs figure to host offensive fireworks and long-ball fatigue.
As the league looks to the future, the way many analysts talk about black players such as the Baltimore Ravens passer still belongs to an ugly past.
After a grueling and dramatic final against tournament antihero Daniil Medvedev, the Spaniard inched closer to the men’s grand-slam record.
The 19-year-old Canadian’s victory over Serena Williams marks one of the most meteoric rises by a young tennis player in recent years.
Long heralded as a future No. 1, the world No. 78 is within striking distance of his first Grand Slam final.
In trying to reverse a generation’s worth of losing, the team is loading up on stars and embracing the hype.
This year’s U.S. Open has no shortage of female players who could win the title, which has made for an exciting tournament—with one caveat.
The Clemson quarterback and Heisman favorite, seen by many as NFL-ready, is all but forced by the mechanisms of amateur sports to play for free.
The Colts quarterback is leaving the game at age 29—a move that reaffirms the danger of the sport and the willingness of some players to walk away from it.
Considered the greatest of all time by many, Serena Williams and Roger Federer will seek to solidify their legacies with another grand-slam title.
The argument that the female champions can draw big crowds only during World Cup years doesn’t consider the lacking investment from their governing body.
The 32-year-old Serb overwhelmed Roger Federer in a marathon men’s singles final at Wimbledon and proved himself the best of his generation.
The 27-year-old Romanian underdog handily defeated the formidable Serena Williams in a final that echoed a classic 2008 match.
Some 1 billion people tuned in to the games this year, making the USWNT’s victory even more crucial in their upcoming legal fight for equal pay.
As the United States and the Netherlands prepare to face off, teams and fans wonder whether VAR—or instant-replay reviews—will decide the champion.
It’s not just about the game—these athletes are playing with something more to prove.
The young male players trying to unseat the “big three” of tennis should look to upstarts such as Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka for a lesson on how to translate talent into titles.
Two of the NBA’s best players have teamed up in the league’s glitziest and most history-rich locale, each with a legacy to burnish and an unhappy narrative to reverse.
The Golden State Warriors were hampered by injuries, but the league’s newest victors were built to seize on the opportunity.
After Golden State’s star forward injured his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, the team’s decision to let him play is facing scrutiny.
A new documentary about the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest moves beyond his—and the NBA’s—most notorious moment: 2004’s “Malice at the Palace” brawl.
The Golden State Warriors forward is an unstoppable scorer and matchup nightmare—and without him, the team is on the doorstep of another championship.
The postseason is lagging in action and viewership. A skunk rule could be the solution.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ do-everything prodigy has simplified his approach and become the NBA’s best player.
The most appealing aspect of the golf pro’s 15th major championship is that it doesn’t quite signal a return to dominance.
For the first time in its history, the World Surf League requires that cash prizes be uniform for men and women. But gender inequality isn’t completely eradicated from the sport.
Opening Day 2019 finds the league tinkering with the sport to draw younger audiences—and weighing which aspects of the game are essential.
Mike Trout just signed a record-breaking contract extension with the Los Angeles Angels. What he really needs is a team that can win championships.
In a new lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, the athletes say they earn just a fraction of what their less successful male counterparts make.
It’s clear that the Duke freshman doesn’t need the league as much as it needs him. This makes the phenom uniquely positioned to revolutionize the game.
Bryce Harper’s and Manny Machado’s contracts are similarly lucrative, but they represent two different approaches to the same bet.
In a tedious championship game against the Los Angeles Rams, New England confirmed that the ingredients of its success can’t be replicated by the rest of the NFL.
As the ageless Tom Brady and Bill Belichick lead the Patriots to another Super Bowl, the star tight end shows signs of wear and tear.
How the 21-year-old Japanese phenom cemented her position as a bona fide superstar—plus a look at what lies ahead for the men’s final
With shrewd drafting and a style adjustment, New Orleans built a team capable of helping out its star quarterback—and winning a Super Bowl.
The Circuit, Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s latest book, deftly chronicles tennis’s 2017 season with a joyful reverence.
LeBron James has just started his next act with the Lakers. But when he retires, what will become of the endless debate over which player is the Greatest of All Time?
As the sport gets faster and scores climb higher, a formerly traditionalist program and its star quarterback embrace the future.
With a match against the Cavaliers looming, James could be on the brink of taking a big step forward with his new team.
Officials are trying a “nuclear option” to fix the culture of sexual assault within the elite sport. But can it actually work?
He’s maybe the least respected good quarterback there ever was. But for all his obvious faults, no one can say he fell short of expectations.
With lengthy games and a lack of star power, this October fell flat in many ways.
A championship victory for Los Angeles would mean the team’s sustained ability to make it to the postseason—year after year—has finally paid off.
Anything short of a championship would in many ways render Boston’s entire season a failure.
Laker fans get their first glimpse of L.A.’s newest megastar, in one of the most chaotic home openers in memory.
The Red Sox’s ALDS victory completes the archrivals’ role reversal.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ upstart signal-caller and oft-imitated coach have the league buzzing.
Javier Báez stands out for his incredible versatility—a trait not common to, or usually required of, MLB superstars.
These days, amateur speed enthusiasts can use digital simulators to compete against the car-racing industry’s biggest stars. The e-sports arena is a playground for gamers, pros, and talent scouts alike.
Despite a fantastic start to the season that suggested the historically disappointing New York team was on the upswing, it appears greatness is still out of reach.
As the league begins its 2018 regular season, a player whose presence it hoped would fade from view is very much in the spotlight—and on multiple fronts.
In 2009, the Argentine player was primed to lead a youth movement in men’s tennis and shift the demographics of the game. It didn’t happen, but he may have a second chance this year.
By building a promotion around poor on-field performance, the team may have offered a grim look at the future of one of pro sports’ most controversial practices: tanking.
The wide receivers, known as much for their off-the-field antics as their game-day accomplishments, challenged the NFL’s domineering mores.
A new Library of Congress exhibition showcases the sport’s ties to the best parts of U.S. history—while overlooking some of the darker implications of those connections.
Toronto fans may be upset about losing DeMar DeRozan, but the end of two franchise players’ tenures is a reminder that loyalty in sports is meant to be rebuilt.
Three Atlantic staffers discuss tricky questions of national—and international—allegiance in sports, after the victory for Les Bleus, which some called “the last African team.”
The Washington Nationals slugger, arguably the sport’s most famous player, no longer numbers among its best.
The tournament boasted chaotic early matches, a record-long slugfest, and a monumental comeback for Novak Djokovic.
When you root for the world’s less powerful, the tournament can read like a run-on sentence of tragedy, only loosely punctuated with joy.
Much has happened since the country won its last World Cup two decades ago, making this a bittersweet moment in a country always romancing the past.
In the wake of results at the 2018 World Cup that no one was expecting, a nation adjusts awkwardly to success.
One of the most generous and intelligent moves of the World Cup helps explain why people all over the planet are obsessed with soccer.
In defense of Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior—and all his antics
The last time the basketball star left Cleveland, the world erupted. This time around, he leaves behind a legacy that’s bigger than the sport.
He’s perhaps the most confounding player the game has ever seen—and he enters the Wimbledon draw after emerging from one of the coldest stretches of his 15-year career.
As New York and Boston clash for American League supremacy, the excitement that surrounded the teams last decade looks to have returned.
Inside the wide-ranging search—led by economists and psychologists—for the elixir that turns good squads into great ones
As the 2018 tournament kicks off, it’s worth revisiting the late Uruguayan writer’s classic book on a sport he approached as both a fan and a social critic.
The outcome of the NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland was rarely in doubt, even if the winner didn’t need to play its very best.
Despite the early skepticism, the 23-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher and hitter is exceeding expectations in just the first couple months of his major-league career.
As baseball grows younger and faster, there’s less opportunity for the type of late-stage reinvention that salvaged the Texas Rangers pitcher’s career.
Having led the Cavaliers to a fourth consecutive Finals showdown with the Warriors, the game’s best player doesn’t need another ring to prove himself.
The league’s new policy on how teams should behave during the national anthem adopts a familiar strategy: Focus on the spectacle of the game, and hide the rest.
An impending influx of talent hitting the market in the winter is the single biggest factor informing roster construction across baseball.
Amid a historic home-run spike, fans and players alike are wondering how long the league’s wait-and-see approach can last.
In reaching his 3,000th career hit Friday night, the Los Angeles Angels first baseman gave fans a chance to remember his historic greatness.
Inspired by the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, a new generation of superstars-to-be looks to unseat them—sooner or later.
Pro football tends to prefer signal-callers who fit a certain mold. But a few draft prospects stand to push the league further outside its comfort zone.
Floyd Landis, a former teammate of the cyclist’s, just won more than $1 million in a legal case against Armstrong. Here are his thoughts on the suit, cycling, and his onetime rival.
Why you should root for great teams and great players—and abandon your sad-sack local franchise
A tale of goons, no-show jobs, and a legendary minor-league franchise that helped land its owner in prison
A conversation with Malcolm Jenkins, the political activist and Super Bowl champion behind the Players Coalition
New York’s power-hitting duo, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, have set high marks in both homers and strikeouts—underscoring one of baseball’s most pressing issues.
The college-sports body must decide whether to double down on its amateurism rules—or to use an ongoing FBI probe as a chance to soften its stance on players making money.
The next two months are shaping up to be a rare opportunity for teams in search of a steady hand under center.
The outspoken athlete is at the vanguard of a league that has encouraged free expression more than most.
Leggings and yoga gear are common sights at practice rinks. But in competition, gender-coded costumes still prevail.
Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy show the entertainment value, and political power, of gay people embracing full visibility.
The 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Games were star-studded and futuristic—and broadcast to U.S. audiences for the first time.
The 18-year-old American is already seen as the greatest athlete in the sport’s history—and he’s competing at his first Olympics in an especially talented field.
A guide to some of the Games’ most exciting contenders—whether they’re making highly anticipated debuts or returns
The Cleveland Indians will stop wearing the controversial logo on their uniforms next year. What’s next for Native American–inspired imagery and names in the sports world?
The underdog Philadelphia team overcame the New England Patriots in a nail-biter of a game that was pure spectacle.
The tournament saw the Swiss veteran winning a historic 20th Grand Slam singles title—and hinted at what’s to come in the men’s 2018 tennis season.
Philadelphia’s quarterback is facing long odds at the Super Bowl—but onlookers shouldn’t count him out yet.
The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee played with an originality that outshone even his incredible statistics.
Though the best signal-caller ever remains in the playoffs, his also-ran counterparts may suggest the rise of a more well-rounded sport.
After retiring from a virtually flawless career, the former shortstop embarked on a messy tenure as the CEO of the Miami Marlins.
Competitive parking may not inspire the popular imagination like NASCAR or the NBA, but a handful of enthusiasts are hoping to change that. Welcome to the National Valet Olympics.
After infusing college football with a jolt of bravado, the outspoken Oklahoma quarterback can close out his amateur career with a championship.
Forced to carry a heavier burden than ever this season, the 15-year NBA veteran is showing the basketball world he’s not yet finished adding to his game.
After years of hype, the young Japanese star has finally arrived stateside. For his new team, the pitcher-slugger is a source of pure potential.
Despite years of setbacks and controversy, the embattled golfer can still capture the sports world’s attention with one weekend of competence.
One Marine learned that you can’t outpace your demons or suicidal thoughts. But it doesn’t hurt to try.
Daryl Morey has spent a decade orchestrating a new kind of basketball juggernaut. Finally, Houston appears ready to deliver a title.
After years of frustration and controversy, Philadelphia finally boasts a core of young talent—led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons—that has become the NBA’s most exciting upstart.
The outspoken lawyer-turned-ESPN analyst may be the moral conscience college basketball needs this season, as it grapples with its biggest scandal in decades.
Turkey Day usually represents a late-season reset for pro football, but myriad controversies portend a more serious tone this year.
After forging his own way following his father’s death, the longtime NASCAR fan favorite prepares to hang up his helmet after one final ride.
After 20 years in the NBA, the most influential dunker of all time is winding down his career—and the game prepares for a new era of high-flyers.
As weeks pass and league-wide quarterback play worsens, the athlete-turned-activist’s continued absence on Sundays is becoming impossible to rationalize.
Bianca Valenti reveals how female big wave surfers are changing the tides.
Few pitchers were more committed to the daily work of the sport—and more present in the moment—than the eight-time All-Star who died at age 40.
The fans booed his arrival. He bided his time behind a hometown star. Now, this 22-year-old Latvian’s breakout moment is finally here—and the NBA may never be the same.
With the surprising firings of Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, and others, Major League Baseball is learning that managers must do far more than just win.
Baseball will endure late-night finishes and endless mound visits if it gets the kind of drama and passion that Houston and Los Angeles provided in a seven-game classic.
After a quarter-century working on the sidelines, ESPN’s newest full-time NBA announcer has broken through in a big way.
Professional climber Jimmy Chin has taken to filmmaking and photography to tell the stories of his high-stakes adventures.
Shoot threes like Bird, dunk like Jordan, or pass like Magic? A new generation of NBA stars, led by Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, no longer have to choose.
Tracing the origins of a defining moment in sports history can be daunting, especially when your own family steadfastly insists on what happened.
Despite sluggers aplenty on Houston and Los Angeles, each club's title chances hinge on the pitching prowess of Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw.
Meet Leilani Münter, a race car driver determined to make NASCAR green.
While players around the league team up to chase the Warriors, the Celtics’ new point guard looks for a heavier burden.
Teams are calling on relief pitchers earlier and earlier, and October looks drastically different because of it.
The league’s commissioner pleaded for unity while masking the issues that led to the anthem protests in the first place.
The 5-foot-6-inch Houston Astros second baseman and American League MVP frontrunner is one of the greatest anomalies in the sport’s history.
The exhilarating MLB play-in games break with the drowsiness of the regular season in the feverish lead-up to the World Series.
The 150-year-old marketing strategy casts professional athletics as an escape from, rather than a part of, American corporate culture.
A football fan says goodbye to the league, a year after Colin Kaepernick’s first kneeling protest.
The NFL has become increasingly central to how America perceives itself, which means that sport and politics can never be divorced.
This weekend, a series of taunting messages from the president led to a widescale protest among players—in the NFL, and beyond.