Team Vidales

Athletes Unlimited becomes first professional sports league to organize as a Public Benefit Corporation

Team Vidales © Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2021 / Credit: Jade Hewitt
Athletes Unlimited
Apr 12, 2022
  • Company celebrates two years of progress and outlines commitments to promote social and environmental justice within its first ever Public Benefit Corporation report

Today, Athletes Unlimited celebrates becoming the first professional sports league to organize as a public benefit corporation (PBC), with the publishing of its inaugural Public Benefit Corporation report, highlighting progress and sharing commitments to lift up and support its athletes. 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. 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.

Since its founding in March 2020, Athletes Unlimited launched four professional women’s sports leagues – softball, volleyball, lacrosse, and basketball – delivering competition with some of the greatest athletes from around the world. Athletes Unlimited aims to empower its professional athletes as leaders in their sport, promote inclusive ownership that focuses on the long-term profit sharing and personal well-being of athletes, and bring fans closer to the game by innovating on and off the field to maximize engagement and excitement for a global community of fans. 

“Our ambition as a public benefit corporation is to not only reimagine professional sports, but also to rethink the way a business can – and should – show up in the world,” said Jonathan Soros, Athletes Unlimited co-founder. “We’ve created a new model of financing, going beyond typical PBC requirement of taking stakeholders interests into account, that allows investors to signal their support for a mission and their willingness to trade financial return for public benefit.”

In just two years, Athletes Unlimited is fulfilling the inspirational promise of professional sports while building a successful business that benefits its stakeholders and is making real impact. A few of the highlights outlined in the PBC report reflect on how Athletes Unlimited is:

  • Celebrating diversity, lifting up the stories of BIPOC athletes where they are underrepresented and creating more opportunities for younger BIPOC athletes to imagine themselves as professional athletes;
  • Focusing on the personal wellbeing of its athletes, with invaluable pregnancy and childcare policies to developing skills that support their development off the field with programming that covers leadership, negotiation, financial literacy, nutrition, and mental health counseling and more; and 
  • Cultivating leadership skills for athletes to serve as an engine for civic advancement in their communities, while supporting the causes they care most about, with guidance and funding. 

“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.”

“Speaking on behalf of our players, Athletes Unlimited is far more than any of us could have envisioned. The caliber of professional competition is incredible, but it’s how we’re celebrating women, supporting businesses owned by people of color, encouraging civic engagement and voter registration and creating real impact, that makes us proud to be an athlete,” said Cassidy Lichtman, founding member of the Athletes Unlimited volleyball league, chair of the Athletes Unlimited Volleyball Player Executive Committee and the founder of P/ATH, a non-profit that focuses on using sports as a vehicle to teach skills around empathy, equity and empowerment.

To learn more about how Athletes Unlimited’s model is not just reimaging professional sports, but can be adapted for use in other benefit corporations, check out its latest PBC report, here. And to share in Athletes Unlimited’s mission to bring innovation, inclusion, and excellence to professional sports, visit auprosports.com or follow us @auprosports. 

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