Athletes Unlimited has lived up to its name through individual autonomy. As a PBC, the league solidifies its empowering infrastructure.
Since it launched in March 2020, Athletes Unlimited has continually proven that it is about more than just sports. However, its most recent reveal is its most revolutionary to date.
Athletes Unlimited announced Tuesday that it is the first-ever professional sports league to organize as a public benefits corporation.
“Founded on the belief that athletes are what make the sport, Athletes Unlimited model challenges the conventions of traditional leagues by eliminating team owners, giving a bigger voice to athletes, and providing athletes opportunities to engage meaningfully in their communities,” reads the official release. “These commitments to advance the standards of traditional sports, underscore Athletes Unlimited’s resolve to be a driving force for good for its athletes, employees, communities and the planet.”
Over the last two years, AU has launched four professional women’s sports leagues: basketball, lacrosse, softball, and volleyball. The inaugural basketball season ran for five weeks from January to February.
A public benefits corporation is meant “to generate social and public good,” and AU fulfills that definition through its Athlete Causes program. According to the league’s inaugural Public Benefits Corporation report, which can be read in full here, all 195 athletes associated with AU participates in Athlete Causes. Additionally, $600,000 has been spread across 121 benefitting charities each handpicked by players.
Specifically, Athletes Unlimited is partnered with youth programs such as Starlings Volleyball USA, Little League Softball, Harlem Lacrosse, and CityLax. The league is also partnered with When We All Vote and Rally the Vote to encourage athletes to become registered voters. Prior to the 2020 election, per the PBC report, 100% of AU softball players and 98% of volleyball players were registered to vote.
Simultaneous with the announcement, Athletes Unlimited released its first-ever PBC Report, highlighting its efforts over the course of the last two years. Some highlights include:
- AU’s celebration of equity, recruiting a diverse roster of athletes and designating substantial resources to lifting up their stories, in and out of sports.
- AU positions athletes’ well-being first and foremost and provides a wide range of opportunities for personal wellness and professional development for all of its athletes.
- AU centers athletes in the governance of its leagues, moving beyond traditional financial models and revolutionizing athlete empowerment.
“With the disparities between men and women in professional sports, our success has already had enormous public benefits by providing pathways for over 200 professional female athletes and elevating role models for millions of women and girls around the world,” said Jon Patricof, Athletes Unlimited co-founder. “We believe that athletes should participate in the long-term value they help create, and we are building a player community that has a tangible stake in that success, making a greater impact on and off the field.”
Athletes Unlimited joins other progressive companies such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s in adopting the designation of a public benefit corporation.