Unlimited Athletes: How Women’s Leagues Promote Equality and Have Social Impact

Unlimited Athletes: How Women’s Leagues Promote Equality and Have Social Impact

“My new company, Athletes Unlimited, seeks to combine profit and purpose through disruptive innovation in professional sports.”Written in April 2021 Jonathan Sorosthe son of millionaire philanthropist George Soros, in Harvard Business Review. “With great ambition for the media and entertainment business, we have created a network of professional sports leagues using a new model.”

What is that? “We play five-week seasons with a custom scoring system that makes every game count toward the final score,” Soros wrote. Unlimited number of athletes It launched sports leagues in four sports (basketball, softball, volleyball, and lacrosse). They are competitions with goals that benefit society and that seek to bring back a sense of coolness to professional sports, particularly since players are not taken advantage of by companies.

The novelty is the boundless basketball by athletes, which It started last January 26 with 44 players, including 16 players in the WNBA (NBA) and played 30 games.all in vegas, It broadcasts on Fox Sports, CBS Sports Network, and Bally Sports, as well as the Athletes Unlimited YouTube channel.

Of the 44 players who participated in the first basketball competition, 16 belonged to the NBA (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)
Of the 44 players who participated in the first basketball competition, 16 belonged to the NBA (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)

The league gives players a different opportunity to compete in the United States—and not in another country—during the holiday season, with a system without team owners or coaches, and It gives its players more power over league decisions and greater agency over their careers, with more respectable contracts. Each week, the top four scorers are elected as team captain and compile the squad for the following week along with a vote from the public. Athletes Unlimited crowns a winner at the end of the season based on points accumulated and individual stats.

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“If you were designing a math league from scratch, what would it look like? That was the question that [Jon] Patrick and [Jonathan] Soros was made two years ago, when they began to think of a whole network of new equipment, after exploring the idea of ​​investing in existing equipment. ” New Yorker In June 2021.

Patrikov and Soros have known each other for about fifteen years. Soros was an investor in Tribeca Enterprises, which organizes Tribeca Film Festival, when Patrikov was its chief. In 2016, Patrikov left Tribeca to become president of New York Cityfootball club, football League. There he noted how the men’s and women’s teams were evaluated differently financially, and thought that the long-term prospects for professional football being played by women were underestimated.

In the heart of Southern California, SDSU Softball Stadium hosted the inaugural season of the AUX Softball League of Athletes Unlimited (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)
In the heart of Southern California, SDSU Softball Stadium hosted the inaugural season of the AUX Softball League of Athletes Unlimited (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)

Patrikov contacted several people to exchange ideas about the need for renewal. Among them was Soros, who I agreed with him that women’s sport is undervalued. When they evaluated the purchase of existing equipment, they began to question the limitations of tournaments. They believed that the true value of the league was determined by the players, however, despite all the talk about supposed player empowerment, players were not part of the competitions’ governance structures.

Focus on the players

“Furthermore, we believe that Intolerance is changing“I’ve seen the importance of individual athletes and fans who follow players more than teams,” he said in this article from New Yorker Patricof, who along with Soros co-founded Athletes Unlimited in March 2020.

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The traditional structure of tournaments in the United States, where capital and important decisions are controlled by a small group of people and teams work separately, was not appropriate, in Patrikov’s opinion, for the changing networking landscape. The emergence of more politically open players. Because Patrikov and Soros wanted to build a bond around these trends, they investigated the opportunities offered by mathematics.

Natasha Cloudplayer Sophia Washington From the WNBA, he opted out of that league for the 2020 season, was the first to join the Athletes Unlimited team, and spent the next few months recruiting players to join.

“Some still need persuasion,” Cloud said in comments recently published on the Athletes Unlimited website. “They say, ‘Okay, I want to see you play for a year, first.’ I totally understand it. But we also met a lot of people who told us, ‘We’ve been waiting for this moment. We were hoping someone would believe in us, invest in us, and keep us home during stagnation period.

“There are a lot of good players who have graduated from college and are not being drafted into the WNBA because there are only 144 spots,” Patrikov said in a Sports Illustrated memo. “For players, even those in the WNBA, the historically off-season alternative has been to get away from home and play in another long and sometimes arduous competition. When we started talking to female basketball players, the general reaction was: There aren’t enough playing opportunities for us.whether in the United States or in the world.

Within a year, Athletes Unlimited created competitions for basketball, softball, volleyball and lacrosse (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)
Within a year, Athletes Unlimited created competitions for basketball, softball, volleyball and lacrosse (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited -AUProSports)

Social and Environmental Impact

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The competitions created by Patrikov and Soros combine other initiatives related to social impact. For example, they created the Racial Equality Working Group and seek to support players so that they can do motherhood without interrupting their athletic career.

The company’s final step, so far, has been to organize a system of carbon-neutral leagues: it has come”A seven-figure deal ‘to turn Aspiration – a finance company focused on sustainability – into an environmentally friendly partner to help reduce carbon emissions. In addition to analyzing the environmental impact of Athletes Unlimited and developing harm mitigation plans, Aspiration integrates sustainability programming directly into the game: in basketball, for example, for every 3 indicators that are scored, the company commits to planting 10 trees; in soft ball, The ambition is to plant 100 trees for each run that is recorded. Additionally, it has an Athletes Causes Program where players can donate up to 50% of their season tickets to environmental organizations.

The basis of Athletes Unlimited's work is that
The basis of Athletes Unlimited’s work is that “fandom base is changing” and today’s audience follows athletes in particular more than teams: their leagues have a single player scoring system (Photo: Twitter Athletes Unlimited – @AUProSports)

According to Soros, the Athletes Unlimited group gives mathematics an unprecedented role in developing journals and influencing major decisions. “We are committed to developing our athletes Civilian leaders and raising them as role models‘, he wrote. Innovations on the field of play are combined with other innovations off the field.

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This note is part of the Solutions for Latin America platform, an alliance between INFOBAE and RED/ACCION.

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