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For fans, it’s been a difficult several years since “Magic” Mike Lane left the male stripping industry in 2012, but like a phoenix with magnificent pecs, the Channing Tatum character returns in “Magic Mike XXL,” out today. Our time in the desert has come to an end. Mike is making a comeback, and so is the strip-club industry.

The “Magic Mike” universe is based on Tatum’s own time as a stripper, and the best data I could find indicates that it’s a pretty accurate telling of the financial and social realities of the stripping business.

First, a synopsis, for those unfamiliar with the first installment: Tatum plays Mike, a Tampa construction worker who moonlights as a stripper in a club run by a man named Dallas (Matthew McConaughey). He recruits a friend to join the crew of male dancers, assorted hijinks happen, and eventually Mike leaves the industry to pursue his dream of starting a furniture business. But that isn’t the end of this story. In the sequel, the crew is now going on the road to an exotic-dancing convention.


Stripper road trip aside, the “Magic Mike” franchise is a pretty good window into the world of live adult entertainment for women. I got an August 2014 industry analysis produced by IBISWorld, a market research firm, all about the financial mechanics of the strip-club business so we can see how the club from the first film, Xquisite, compares.

About 5.3 percent of the $6.18 billion generated in revenue by strip clubs in 2014 came from women. While that part of the market is dwarfed by the male-targeted side, that still means there’s a $328 million market for male strippers. Women are described by the analysts as a “small but growing market” for strip clubs. Bachelorette parties and birthdays appear to be the core clientele, according to two descriptive studies I found.

It turns out that Dallas picked a good business — there’s a lot of money in running an exotic dancing show once you get past the regulatory hurdles.

According to IBISWorld, strip clubs make about half their money from merch, food and alcohol. The vast majority of the rest comes from “service revenue” (more on that in a second), with about 6 percent from other charges like valet parking and ATM fees.

“Service revenue” refers to dances, VIP room rentals and cover charges at the door. In the film, Xquisite’s owner is pretty unscrupulous. He screws over Mike financially when it comes to his stake in a new club in Miami even though the business is doing well because of Mike’s star power. We don’t know how often the owner-dancer relationship turns sour over money in the real world, but IBISWorld estimates that on average, strip clubs keep 25 percent of the money made from each dance.1


Dallas probably didn’t have to rip off Mike to make his money, but he picked a good time to expand the business. The average profit margin for strip club businesses rose to 19.1 percent in 2014 from 15.5 percent in 2009 across the industry.

Mike has pretty solid business instincts, too. Look at how the industry fared between when he joined, when he left and when he signed back up. We see Mike may very well be magic.


The revenues of the stripping industry are closely tied to how much discretionary income Americans have. Getting his start in 2006, Mike became a stripper in a year in which the industry overall had a staggering 33.4 percent increase in revenue compared with the year before. While 2008 and 2009 were lean years because of the recession — revenue fell 8 percent from 2007 to 2009 — between 2010 and 2012, Mike danced as the industry rebounded quickly. It was super intuitive of him to quit right before 2013, when revenue would contract 2.8 percent. And hopping back into the scene in 2015 was good timing, too; the industry is forecast to grow 1.5 percent year over year through 2019.


While money drives a lot of the plot in “Magic Mike,” the movie is also realistic from a social standpoint. For a 2003 study out of Old Dominion University, researchers talked to both men and women who were exotic dancers around Virginia. The sample size isn’t huge — only 16 male dancers were interviewed — but a lot of the experiences they described are also shown on screen.

Mike recruits a friend, Adam, to become a dancer. According to the Old Dominion study, about 89 percent of all the dancers interviewed said they would recommend the profession to a friend; all the guys said they would. Mike and the guys in the movie all have day jobs, which seems true to life — only two of the 16 men interviewed said dancing was their primary source of income.

Hooking up with customers — a distinct trend in the film — was slightly more rare in real life, but three-quarters of the men said they had dated a customer at some point.

Am I saying “Magic Mike XXL” is going to be an educational experience? If it’s anything like its predecessor, it very well may be. So go see it, and if anyone asks any questions, just say you’re trying to learn about a growing and crucial part of the American economy.



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Six black churches have burned since the June 17 shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, but these fires aren’t necessarily hate crimes or arson. The latest fire broke out Tuesday night at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, a South Carolina church that was previously burned to the ground in an arson attack linked to the Ku Klux Klan in 1995. Federal officials said Wednesday that the latest Mount Zion fire was probably not caused by arson, according to a preliminary investigation, and said the source of the flames might have been lightning in the area.

There’s no question that arsons are disproportionately likely to occur at black churches, even though any individual church fire is unlikely to be arson. After a surge in church fires in the 1990s, the National Church Arson Task Force was created in 1996 to investigate connections between individual church attacks. (It disbanded in 2000.) According to the task force’s final annual report, 33 percent of all arsons and bombing attacks at houses of worship from January 1995 to August 2000 took place at African-American churches. Black churches accounted for an even larger share of arson attacks in the South (44 percent).

As a result, in the wake of an attack like the one in Charleston, where a white man is suspected of shooting and killing nine black people, it makes sense for fires and other incidents at black churches to draw increased scrutiny. Nonetheless, statistics on church fires kept by the National Fire Protection Association suggest that some of the recent fires will probably turn out to be simple bad luck, not arson.

From 2007 to 2011, arson accounted for 16 percent of all fires at churches and funeral homes (about 285 arsons per year). The most common cause of religious and funeral home fires was cooking equipment (30 percent). Arson and heating equipment were tied as the next most likely causes. Although they were not the most likely cause of fires, intentional fires were the most devastating, accounting for 25 percent of all property damage to religious and funeral properties from 2007 to 2011.

By Aug. 15, 2000, the report noted, 46 people were convicted of crimes related to bias-motivated arsons or bombings. Many of those were convicted on hate-crime charges. Of these, 19 incidents took place at African-American churches (6 percent of all attacks at black churches), and 27 took place at all other houses of worship (4 percent of the remaining attacks). The true proportion of arsons and bombings that were hate crimes is likely to be higher than the percent that resulted in a hate-crime conviction, both because two-thirds of attacks did not result in an arrest and because attacks that occurred near the end of the period covered in the task force report could not have plausibly resulted in conviction before the report was finalized.

The FBI’s annual statistics on hate crimes offer a slightly fuller, more up-to-date portrait of racially motivated attacks, but still don’t quite tell us how common arson at black churches is. The FBI keeps statistics on all racially motivated hate crimes and provides details on where they occurred. Based on these annual reports, it’s possible to see how many racially motivated hate crimes took place at houses of worship from 1996 to 2013 (the most recent annual report).


From 1996 to 2013, the percent of racially motivated hate crimes that took place at houses of worship was between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent. These numbers include racially motivated hate crimes directed at any race, not just African-Americans, and include any kind of attack that happened at any place of worship, but they give a rough sense of how common these incidents are, and what a small scale of all race-related hate crimes they represent.

But pure statistics can’t convey the devastation that a racially motivated church fire can inflict on an institution that is so central to the lives of many black Americans, particularly in the South. Attacks on churches can have greater effects than those on individuals, because they represent an attack on a community and often destroy or damage the place where a community gathers to mourn after any other kind of attack. Additionally, African-American churches have often been hubs of political activism, so an attack strikes against the political power of congregations, not just the personal connections between worshippers.

So, while Americans wait for all the facts to emerge from the investigations into the recent fires, it’s important not to jump to conclusions about the source of any individual fire. And though church arsons may be uniquely devastating and attract television cameras, many more racially motivated hate crimes occur each week that do not get the attention these fires have received, even before they have been confirmed as crimes at all.


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Heading into the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, England was not the sexy choice. The Lionesses were undefeated in World Cup qualifiers, outscoring their opponents 52-1, but few insiders expected them to challenge the game’s giants: Germany, the United States and Japan.

Then came the victory over Norway in the Round of 16 and the upset of host Canada in the quarterfinals. England still only has a 10 percent chance of winning the tournament, according to our Women’s World Cup forecasting model, but its chances nearly doubled after the Norway win and then more than doubled after the victory over Canada. The squad, which features no recognizable stars and has not won a match in this tournament by more than one goal, now finds itself on the brink of history.

England has never made it this far in a Women’s World Cup, and this is the furthest any English team, men or women, has come in a World Cup since 1990. Tonight, the squad, led by coach Mark Sampson, will take the field in Edmonton against defending champions Japan for a spot in the final against the U.S., which upset Germany 2-0 in its semifinal match Tuesday night.

Japan is favored to win the game 61 percent to England’s 39 percent, according to our model. Its chances of winning the tournament are 20 percent — double England’s but still a far cry from the U.S.’s 70 percent.

Japan has quietly arrived at this stage of this competition. The team played its most complete game of the tournament in its 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Round of 16 and labored to a 1-0 win over Australia in the quarterfinals. Japan’s attack remains the game’s best; its tiki-taka passing style in the midfield is a beauty to watch for spectators and baffling for defenses. The midfield, led by 36-year-old former captain and 2011 World Cup hero Homare Sawa and star Nahomi Kawasumi, has dominated possession in every one of the team’s matches but has failed to convert that dominance into goals. Japan has averaged just 1.4 goals per game in the tournament, and England’s stingy defense will need that run to continue if it’s to have a chance.

The Lionesses’ leading scorers in the tournament are two defenders, Karen Carney and Lucy Bronze. England’s lack of offensive firepower and struggles in the final third could prove decisive against what is a small, but well-organized Japanese backline. With both Carney and Bronze likely to have their hands full with Japan’s speedy attackers, they will have fewer chances to direct counterattacks as they did against Canada. As a result, outside of set pieces, they are unlikely to impose themselves on offense.

If Japan can do a better job converting its chances, it should win this game, maybe even comfortably. But, then again, in this tournament, nothing has been comfortable for the big teams.


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Listen: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud | ESPN PodCenter | RSS

Welcome to this week’s episode of Hot Takedown, our podcast where the hot sports takes of the week meet the numbers that prove them right or tear them down. On this week’s show (June 30, 2015), we discuss the U.S. women’s national soccer team lineup, preview Wimbledon and discuss the weirdness of NBA free agency. Plus, our Significant Digit of the week: Luke Ridnour was traded this week for the fourth time this offseason, to the Toronto Raptors.

Stream the episode by clicking the play button, or subscribe using one of the podcast clients we’ve linked to above.

Below are some links to what we discuss on this week’s show:

If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong.


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You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.

1.89 kills per cat per month

It’s crucial to remember that house cats are descended from a line of apex predators and that the urge to hunt never fully left them. New research in the “Ecology and Evolution” journal suggests that outdoor cat owners vastly underestimate the efficient killing machines in their care. In a study of British cats and their owners, the mean number of things a cat kills every month was 1.89. The cats’ owners, meanwhile, had no idea how many things their own cats were killing. Keep them inside, people. The birds don’t stand a chance otherwise. [Ecology and Evolution via Gizmodo]



22 dildos

Earlier this week, the single greatest CNN segment in CNN’s history went on the air. It was a discussion of a purported ISIS flag at an LGBT pride event in London — a discussion that was later invalidated when the flag was revealed to be comprised of dildos rather than legitimate Arabic text. By my count there are 22 distinct dildos represented on the flag, all arranged to appear to look like the banner of the brutal contingent that has assumed control of portions of Syria, Iraq and other areas. Its craftsman is now speaking out about his motivation. [The Guardian]

65th show

Billy Joel will break Elton John’s record for number of shows played at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. [Newsday]

124 people

The number of people killed by police this year who were suffering from mental illness or undergoing an emotional crisis. That’s out of 462 total by the Washington Post’s reckoning. One potential cause of this, the Post reports, is that police don’t spend enough time learning how to assist the emotionally disturbed. [The Washington Post]


The estimated number of annual deaths caused by sugary beverages, according to new research in an American Heart Association journal. Worldwide, the annual death toll is estimated to be 180,000. [The Los Angeles Times]


A crowdfunding campaign to raise 1.6 billion euros for Greece — enough to pay the nation’s most recent missed debt payment — has raised €802,079 at press time from 47,570 people who do not quite get how much a billion euros is, or are maybe all in on a joke to show how dumb crowdfunding is. I can’t really tell. [Indiegogo]

$2 million

The estimated salary cap for the 2015-2016 NBA season was $67.1 million for each team, but the actual cap could be $2 million higher. The negotiation period for free agents begins midnight Wednesday, so figuring out how to deal with the still-nebulous cap is likely on general managers’ minds. [CBS Sports]

52.6 million

The United States has eclipsed Spain to be the nation with the second-highest number of Spanish speakers, behind only Mexico. An estimated 52.6 million Americans speak Spanish. [New York Daily News]

$500 million

I got into this business for a couple of reasons, but none of them were because I wanted to write a daily newsletter that regularly talked about Donald Trump. And yet, here we stand. The presidential candidate and former television personality is suing Univision in a $500 million defamation, breach of contract and free speech lawsuit. [The Hollywood Reporter]

If you haven’t already, you really need to sign up for the Significant Digits newsletter — be the first to learn about the numbers behind the news.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, tweet it to me, @WaltHickey.


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Dear Mona,

A couple of years ago, my wife told me that she wanted a divorce. I recently read an article claiming that anywhere from 60 percent to 85 percent of divorces are initiated by the wife. How likely are men to initiate divorce compared with women?

Nathan, 30, Indiana

Dear Nathan,

I’m not sure where you got your numbers, but they’re not far off. A review of the literature on divorce that appeared in the journal American Law and Economics Review in 2000 (I can’t find anything as comprehensive published since then) found that 60 percent to 80 percent of divorces in the U.S. are filed by women.

MONAYou might be surprised to learn that the female majority in divorce filings isn’t a modern phenomenon. The researchers, Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen, looked at 25 different U.S. data sets. The oldest examined the 9,937 divorces that took place nationwide in 1867 and found that 62 percent were filed by women.

The researchers looked at different variables to understand why divorces tend to be filed by women. They suggest three main explanations:

  1. Over-exploited wives who do the majority of housework and parenting may feel that they have nothing to lose by leaving.
  2. Wives may have already benefited from financial investments made by a husband (for example, paying for education) and no longer require his support.
  3. Wives expect to get, and subsequently keep, custody of their children — if they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t file for divorce. (This is by far the most statistically significant explanation.)

I have only one side of the story here, Nathan — which is a problem because there’s data showing that couples sometimes disagree about who initiated a divorce.

In 2005, sociologists presented their findings on divorce initiation at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America using data from the National Survey of Families and Households from the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Demography. They found that when men said their wives’ desire to end the relationship was stronger than their own, 6 percent of those ex-wives disagreed, saying it was their husbands who wanted the divorce instead. Conversely, when men said they were the ones with the greater desire to end the relationship, 16 percent of their ex-wives disagreed, saying they themselves wanted the divorce more.

It’s not just marriages. I also have data on breakups of long-term relationships, and the overall takeaway is the same: Women are more likely to dump a partner (to use the brutal common expression) than to get dumped by one.

A YouGov survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. adults last month found that 1 in 5 women said she had only ever been the one to end a long-term romantic relationship, compared with 1 in 14 men. (YouGov didn’t ask about sexual orientation, so some of the responses probably refer to same-sex relationships.) Overall, though, a third of all men and a third of all women surveyed said they had experienced being both the dumper and the dumpee.


The YouGov survey also found that women were less likely than men to talk to their exes — only 36 percent of women said they were still in touch with at least one of their former partners, compared with 52 percent of men. That’s somewhat surprising given that women are no more likely than men to say they think it’s a good idea to cut former partners out of their lives.

One last, slightly depressing thing: Almost half of all respondents, regardless of gender, said they “truly regret” at least one of their past relationships.

I hope you’re not one of them, Nathan. If you are, try to take comfort from the knowledge that you’re not alone. Overall, the numbers suggest that women are more likely to say they’re the ones making the decision to get out. The fact that the divorce statistics say the same thing suggests that the survey data isn’t just pride talking.

Hope the numbers help,


Have a question you would like answered here? Send it to @MonaChalabi or


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UPDATE (July 1, 7:20 a.m.): Tuesday night, the U.S. women’s national team beat Germany 2-0, making this article’s headline even more prescient than usual. Below, Benjamin Morris looks at how America’s unique youth soccer culture has helped ensure the dominance of the USWNT.

Even though the United States is a bit insecure about its place in the world’s most popular sport, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has been dominant on the world stage for nearly a quarter-century. Tonight it will face off in the semifinals of the women’s World Cup against Germany, with nothing less than the title of “greatest of all time” at stake. Each team has two World Cup championships, and they’ve been the two top-ranked teams in the world since FIFA’s rankings began in 2003. The winner will take the lead in World Cup finals appearances and will have the inside track to finish atop 2015’s rankings.

So how did we get here? Basically, it boils down to two things: 1) Women’s soccer has been on a great run for the past 30-plus years in the U.S., to the point where it’s poised to become our most popular women’s sport, and 2) the rest of the world has been relatively apathetic and/or hostile to the women’s game.

U.S. women’s soccer truly seemed to arrive in the public’s attention after the 1999 World Cup. If you’re old enough to have experienced the excitement and drama of it, there’s no way you could ever forget:


This success didn’t come from nowhere. Since almost immediately after the implementation of Title IX (which became law in 1972, with compliance required by 1978) U.S. women’s soccer has grown like crazy. Probably the cleanest and easiest venue to see how this has played out is at the high school level; the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has high school athletics participation data going back to the ’70s:


In the late ’70s, the number of high school women playing soccer was in the low five figures. By the time America won the World Cup in 1991, there were more than 120,000. By the time it won in 1999, there were more than 250,000. Now it is approaching 20 percent of all high school female athletes — about 375,000 — and has surpassed baseball/softball as the third-most-played team sport.

Soccer has grown both by taking women from other sports and by capturing a disproportionate share of “new” female athletes as more young women began to play sports. Note that the percentage decline for basketball — by far the most mature women’s sport in the country — looks steep, but the change in total number of players is fairly small (there were more women playing high school basketball in 2013-14 than in 1976-77.) Soccer, though, has still been adding numbers to its ranks rapidly, despite a bit of a slowdown in its growth shortly after 1999:


Soccer looks like it has a good chance of taking the top spot in the next 10-20 years. Yes, volleyball has been on a nice run of late, and looks likely to pass basketball as the most-played sport as early as this year. But volleyball is down from its peak (see chart above), and the upper limit for soccer is still unknown.

For as much as the rest of the world loves soccer, it has been much slower to embrace the women’s game than the U.S. In England, women playing soccer was effectively banned (at least at venues that hosted men’s teams) from 1921 to 1971, and in Germany it was banned from 1955 to 1970. At around the time Title IX was heating up in the United States, women’s international soccer basically didn’t exist. According to FIFA, there were only three national teams and two international matches played in 1971.

And while the women’s game is still growing worldwide, it has a long way to go. The latest comprehensive statistics from FIFA come from its “Big Count” in 2006. In it, women made up about 11 percent of registered soccer players worldwide, and just 13 percent of youths. While the Big Count hasn’t been updated, more recent studies haven’t suggested any major shifts, and FIFA still uses a figure of 12 percent in its literature.

What’s worse, even those numbers are being skewed — by the United States. In that same report, the U.S. had more than 1.5 million registered female youth players — more than half of the world’s total. Take all U.S. youth out of the equation, and just 8 percent of the young soccer players in the rest of the world were female in 2006.

Also, in the U.S., women’s soccer has more parity the higher up the ladder you go. Of all FIFA-registered youth in the U.S., 40 percent are female. In high schools, young women make up 47 percent of all soccer players. In the NCAA, 53 percent of soccer players are female, including 61 percent of those in Division I.

Given that we pretty much started out on a similar playing field and have devoted more interest to women playing soccer in this country, I’m actually led to wonder why it is that we’re not even more dominant.

For example, Germany has probably the most robust network of young women playing soccer outside of the U.S. Per capita its network is about the same as America’s: The U.S. has about five times as many registered youth women’s players as Germany (based on the data in the FIFA country-by-country factbook), fitting well with a population difference of about 5x for 15-24-year-old females (judging by here and here).

If all else were equal, the U.S. should be smoking Germany: Both countries have similar youth participation rates, and we have five times more youths to draw on.

This isn’t the type of sports mystery that can be easily solved, but the best answer is probably something along the lines of “they take soccer more seriously.” And there are some pretty good hints of that in FIFA’s data: For example, 94 percent of all the FIFA-registered players in the U.S. are youths, compared with only 31 percent in Germany. In raw numbers, that means we have a little more than 100,000 relatively serious adult female players compared with Germany’s 650,000 plus. While I generally think youth or high school participation is a great proxy for potential talent pools, in this case I think the adult participation disparity tells you quite a bit about each country’s soccer culture. We may have the numbers advantage, but we don’t treat soccer as a national passion project.

At least not yet. Give us a couple more wins in Canada and we’ll see.

CLARIFICATION (July 1, 10:30 a.m.): The “rise of soccer” chart has been labeled to reflect that hockey includes both ice and field variants.


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Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Women’s World Cup predictions.

I didn’t care about the sweat pooling beneath my thighs in the 90 degree Pasadena sun; I hardly stayed seated anyway. We had woken up early to paint our faces and finish decorating our signs before loading into the family van to drive an hour north on the I-405 from my grandma’s house to the Rose Bowl. I trailed a few steps behind my older sister and her friends as we entered the stadium, marveling at the American flag popsicle vendors and 90,000-plus people chanting, ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’

It was the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, and it was the greatest day of my 10-year-old life. To this day, I thought it would be the greatest Women’s World Cup game I’d ever witness. I was wrong.

Tonight’s semifinal match between the United States and Germany is the greatest Women’s World Cup game of all time, according to our Women’s Soccer Power Index, which gives this game an average WSPI rating of 95.5. That’s the largest average WSPI of any two teams to ever play each other at a Women’s World Cup. By this measure, the 1999 final is only the eighth-greatest game of all time.
Screenshot 2015-06-30 11.46.57

6/30/15 U.S. Germany Semifinals 95.5
10/1/03 U.S. Norway Quarterfinals 95.4
10/5/03 U.S. Germany Semifinals 95.3
9/30/07 Germany Brazil Final 95.0
9/26/07 Germany Norway Semifinals 94.9
10/12/03 Germany Sweden Final 94.5
6/15/95 U.S. Norway Semifinals 94.3
7/10/99 U.S. China Final 94.3
6/26/15 Germany France Quarterfinals 94.2
9/21/03 U.S. Sweden Group stage 94.2

Either the U.S. or Germany — or both countries — has played in every one of the top 10 greatest Women’s World Cup games, and their 2003 World Cup semifinal encounter ranks third (Germany defeated the U.S. 3-0). Historically, when the U.S. and Germany have met at a World Cup, the winner has gone on to win the tournament. In both 1991 and 1999, the U.S. defeated Germany en route to its two championships, and in 2003, Germany routed the U.S. on its way to its first World Cup title. However, the two teams haven’t met at a World Cup in 12 years.

Germany is favored to win tonight’s game 57 percent to the Americans’ 43 percent, according to WSPI. As the Germans have advanced through the tournament, their chances of winning have risen to 43 percent, up 16 percentage points since the start of the World Cup. These odds come after a convincing Round of 16 win over Sweden and a quarterfinal victory against France, two of the tournament’s top teams. The U.S. has had a much easier (and less dominant) route to this semifinal match. The U.S. did not win very convincingly in either its Round of 16 game against Colombia or its quarterfinal game against China, and its chances of winning the World Cup are up only 2 percentage points since the tournament began.

Much of the criticism surrounding the U.S. team has been about its inability to create chances in the final third, but on Friday night against China, the U.S. created 13 chances — more than in any other of its games this tournament. The team was playing without two starting midfielders — Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday, who were out because of accumulating yellow cards — and yet the team looked the sharpest it has all tournament, applying high pressure and winning the ball back immediately. The new players in the lineup provided fresh energy and offensive pressure; Amy Rodriguez made threatening runs forward and hustled all game, while Kelley O’Hara kept the width on the right side and got on the end of a few good crosses. But the question remains against Germany: Who and how will the U.S. decide to play?

Germany has been dominant all tournament long — especially in the final third, where the Americans have struggled. It has created almost double the number of chances as the U.S. — 94 compared with 50 — and its cohesive offensive power has been difficult for teams to contain. The tournament’s leading goal-scorers are two of Germany’s attackers, Célia Šašić and Anja Mittag, who have scored more goals apiece (six and five, respectively) than all the U.S. forwards combined. Together with attacking midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan (who is questionable for tonight’s game because of an ankle injury), Germany has the tournament’s most indomitable, powerful attack.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy for the Germans to score on the U.S., whose defense has also been the best of any team we’ve seen — allowing just one goal, in its first game against Australia. The center-back duo of Julie Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn has been an impenetrable force field, shutting down most teams’ attacking flow before it can even begin. But the U.S. hasn’t faced an attack as balanced as Germany’s, and the Americans will have to rely on the midfield to help close gaps between the seams.

The midfield provides the biggest question mark for both the U.S. and Germany, and it’s likely that whoever has the better midfield organization will control the game and create more offensive opportunities. It’s doubtful that the U.S. will try to match up with Germany’s 4-2-3-1 formation and play with three central midfielders, but much of its success against China came from designating Morgan Brian as a holding mid, allowing Carli Lloyd to get forward and score the game winner. Rapinoe will likely return to the left side. But head coach Jill Ellis has started five different players at right midfield, and that spot could go to any of them, including Tobin Heath, Christen Press or O’Hara.

Both teams will be playing to keep the dream of a third World Cup title alive, and it’s bound to be an epic battle. Maybe there won’t be 90,000 people in the stands or 90 degree temperatures on the field, but you can bet there will be patriotic face paint and a 26-year-old in the crowd feeling like she’s 10 again.

Jay Boice contributed research.


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Greece is staring into the economic abyss. The Greek government is expected to default on its debt payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), due Tuesday. The government shuttered the country’s banks this week, leaving Greek citizens scrambling to withdraw cash from ATMs, but at a limit of 60 euros (or about $66) per day.

What comes next for Greece is hard to say. Greek banks are under immense pressure to meet the panicked demands of their customers, but the system is running out of cash. A hastily called referendum scheduled for Sunday will allow Greeks to vote on a proposed agreement with the IMF and other creditors. If the deal is rejected, many economists believe Greece will likely leave the eurozone and issue a new currency (like the old drachma) that would be severely devalued against the euro.

While the future is highly uncertain, it’s pretty clear what got Greece to this point. Looking at a broad range of economic and financial statistics, Greece emerges as a stark negative outlier in the eurozone. On many measures, Greece is far and away the worst-performing eurozone country; in other cases, it shares the ignominy.

Take GDP, for example. Greece has suffered and is suffering — by far — the worst recession of any eurozone country. Since 2007, or just before the global financial crisis and recession, Greece’s real GDP has declined by over 25 percent. For U.S. readers, that’s roughly analogous to the Great Depression, when GDP fell about 27 percent between 1929 and 1933. Greece was one of the poorer countries in the eurozone before the onset of the global financial crisis, but it has gotten even poorer — per capita GDP fell from 23,500 euros in early 2007 to 19,600 euros in late 2014, a 17 percent decline. Here’s how Greece compares to the countries in the eurozone with the biggest economies and those that have struggled the most.


The unemployment rate in Greece was a stunning 26.1 percent at the end of last year and 25.6 percent as of March. Only in Spain is the labor market remotely as dire — there the unemployment rate was a little less than 24 percent at the end of last year, the last period for which we have harmonized data. The unemployment crisis is particularly acute for the young: Over half of all Greeks ages 15 to 24 who are looking for a job can’t find one.


What’s the driver of all this economic misery? Well, the answers depend on whom you ask. Germany, the IMF and other creditors see Greece’s huge amount of government debt as the main culprit. But many Greek politicians and citizens point to what they consider unnecessary and counterproductive austerity policies — the cutting of government expenditures and the raising of taxes — as the source of their current ills. Either way, the Greek government now has to pay far more to borrow in the open market. Because the European Central Bank lowered eurozone-wide short-term interest rates between 2007 and 2015, most countries now pay a lower interest rate on their government debt — but not Greece.


Following months of tense negotiations between the Greek government and its creditors, the recent standoff is likely to accelerate the already sharp withdrawal of deposits from Greek banks. Deposits have declined about 20 percent between December 2014 and May of this year, and the exodus of cash from the banks likely accelerated in June.


The crisis is also affecting stock markets around the world. Like the banks, trading on the Greek stock exchange is closed this week, but the exchange has fallen 3 percent in June relative to the previous month, and it’s down about 50 percent since November.

Greece’s collapse might adversely affect the teetering eurozone economies such as Portugal and Spain, but it does not seem likely to unleash economic contagion on the world economy. Following this week’s drama, however, it’s a near certainty that Greece’s economy will get worse before it gets better.


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You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news.

2/3 in each chamber

The Post and Courier in South Carolina called up state legislators and asked how they’d vote on a proposal to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds. In order to get it passed, a two-thirds majority is required in each chamber of the state legislature. Yesterday, by the paper’s count, that threshold was reached. [The Post and Courier via @jaspar]

6 fires

Up to six fires have taken place at black churches in the south in the past week and a half. The FBI is investigating. [NPR]

53 percent

70 percent of academic papers in social science and 53 percent of papers in natural and medical science are published by the top five for-profit journal publishers. This is potentially an issue because the for-profit journals limit access compared to open source counterparts. [CBC]

70 percent

Rare-earth metals — the weird ones on the middle chunk of the periodic table that sound like sensible Targaryen names and make your phone work — exploded as a commodity investment a few years ago due to perceived scarcity. In retrospect, the high prices for the commodities and the rush of companies trying to exploit that scarcity were symptoms of a bubble. China controls 70 percent of the supply of rare-earth elements. [Bloomberg]


President Obama’s Labor Department intends to announce a plan to mandate overtime pay for more workers. Mandatory overtime pay could now potentially be owed to people making as much as $52,000, up from its current level of $23,660. Until now those people have not been assured time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. [NPR]


Gawker is trying to get emails pertaining to the incident in McKinney, Texas where a police officer brandished a weapon at several unarmed black teenagers and subsequently resigned. They filed a Public Information Act request, and the city said fulfilling the request for records and emails would cost $79,229.09. That’s a lot of money for what is essentially a “Ctrl+F,” “Ctrl+C” and “Ctrl+V” operation. [Gawker]

$2.75 million

That’s the amount of money transferred from Phil Mickelson, the golfer, to a sports gambling handicapper working for an illegal gambling operation. Mickelson has not been charged with anything, but the handicapper has pleaded guilty to money laundering. [ESPN]

$14.5 million

The archdiocese of Los Angeles is trying to sell a former convent to Katy Perry for $14.5 million. The nuns who used to occupy that convent claim that’s not possible because they sold the property two weeks ago to a restaurant owner. I had a whole sentence of Katy Perry song puns ready here, but I’m holstering it. Not worth the roar in my inbox. [Gawker]

26 million

The number of people who have emblazoned a rainbow flag on their Facebook profile to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to extend marriage rights to all Americans. [The Washington Post]

$470 million

Uber doesn’t make money, which isn’t particularly shocking — companies like Uber are motivated by growth and not profit at this stage of existence. But wow, does it not make money. According to a report distributed to prospective investors, during an undefined time period the company incurred $470 million in losses while bringing in $415 million in revenue. Uber says the numbers are out of date. [Bloomberg]

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