Athletes Unlimited is a network of new professional sports leagues where athletes compete in fantasy-inspired games in softball, volleyball, lacrosse, and basketball. This player-centered model has the athletes involved every step of the way.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, players in that league make a base salary of $10,000 for a six-week season and can take home as much as $25,000 with additional achievements.
Softball, volleyball, and lacrosse are the main focus and will slowly start to expand with basketball as well as have other sports on the horizon. Basketball is expected to start this year (2022).
More than 90 percent of Athletes Unlimited fans surveyed said they cared strongly that the league is athlete-led. Making the players more closely involved in the game proved appealing to fans and players alike.
Athletes Unlimited takes a more data-driven approach and ignores the fact that women’s sports can’t draw large, revenue-generating audiences. The research commissioned by the founders of Athletes Unlimited indicated something much different. So did the 1,200-plus softball games ESPN broadcast in 2019.
When UCLA clinched the national championship with a walk-off hit last year, the game averaged 1.8 million viewers. Also, the College World Series in softball has posted higher ratings than the College World Series in baseball. This gave Athletes Unlimited the opportunity to push women’s sports forward.
Women’s leagues allow for more freedom. Athletes Unlimited takes this idea and runs with it.
“There are a lot of things you can do differently,” said Jon Patricof, the CEO of Athletes Unlimited.
Photo credit: Athletes Unlimited