Fast Company put out its list of 10 most innovative companies in sports of 2023. Athletes Unlimited, a professional sports league focusing on elite women athletes, is the first women’s sports league to earn this Fast Company honor. In addition, Athletes Unlimited is the first professional sports league to be organized as a Public Benefit Corporation and the first U.S.-based pro sports league to be committed to carbon neutrality.
The league was founded by Jon Patricof and Jonathan Soros on March 3, 2020, and has four women’s professional sports under its umbrella: softball, volleyball, basketball and lacrosse. In 2021, it added volleyball and in 2022, it added basketball. The power is in the hands of the players and there are no owners for the teams. Players make decisions both on and off their field of play, which gives the entire league a player-centric ethos. Each league has a player executive committee that meets weekly with Athletes Unlimited staff to work on all aspects of the league, from adding players to the roster to establishing the rules and scoring system.
Players in all sports, including basketball, compete under a point system where players and teams are rewarded for individual and team performance. Each week the four highest-ranked players are appointed as captains and redraft teams for the following week’s competition. This not only allows fans to see different matchups each week, but it also allows the players to get a feel for different schemes and teammates. The league has big-name sponsors including Nike, Gatorade, Topps, Caesars, Sportradar and GEICO.
Prominent international and WNBA players play in the league, which does not conflict with their seasons. WNBA stars such as Las Vegas Aces guard Sydney Colson, Los Angeles Sparks guard Lexie Brown and Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud bring the heat each week on the court. The WNBA only has 144 roster spots, so leagues such as Athletes Unlimited allow athletes to play domestically and not have to pursue opportunities overseas.
WNBA players playing abroad were put in the international spotlight when WNBA champion and Olympic medalist Brittney Griner was detained in Russia while she was playing overseas. But things are changing for the better and women’s college basketball fans are able to follow the careers of their favorite players past college with easier access thanks to leagues like Athletes Unlimited.
The games are fan and athlete-focused, including free autograph signings at the end of each game along with free swag and custom posters for each week. Dallas is the home for Season 2 of Athletes Unlimited Basketball and one ticket allows entry to two games.
Tickets start at $15 for the games.