Letter from the co-founders, 2023
Dear Members of the Athletes Unlimited Community,
Inside Athletes Unlimited, 2022 felt like the year that the world began to appreciate the scale and durability of what we are building. In just our third year, we have become a major player in professional women’s sports. And 2023 is going to be even bigger.
With the addition of basketball and the expansion of our presence in softball with the launch of a new two-week AUX format, Athletes Unlimited delivered 132 games across our four sports. Each featured the world’s best athletes competing in our intense, dynamic format in which Every Moment Counts!
Thanks in large part to our deal with ESPN to broadcast all of our softball and lacrosse games on their TV and digital platforms – a deal which will expand to include volleyball in 2023 – an amazing 95 of our games and matches across our four sports were nationally broadcast in 2022, with the remainder showing on platforms like ESPN+. We capped off our broadcast success with a half hour special on CBS that aired on October 29, reaching more than 419,000 live viewers.
Our social media team continued to outperform, delivering content that resonated with our growing audience and expanded our aggregate followers to over 800,000. We continue to be committed to reaching fans where they are, and delivering the experience that they expect and deserve.
Attention to Athletes Unlimited in the media expanded further in 2022, with increased coverage of our leagues, games, and as a company. We’re also thrilled to see the hard work and talents of many of our athletes and staff be recognized, such as Director of Sport Cassidy Lichtman, Volleyball, being named to AdWeek’s 2022 Most Powerful Women in Sport, and Senior Director Jenny Jeffries, Content & Social Media, named a Cynopsis Rising Star Honoree.
As an organization, we continued to be a thought leader across all sports, expanding on the work described in our Public Benefit Corporation report last year. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, Athletes Unlimited sponsored a day of talks in partnership with TEDxBoston featuring women in sports and topics important to them. Those talks have been viewed over 1.4 million times, and counting, on YouTube. Cassidy Lichtman, our Volleyball Director of Sport, Board of Directors member, and pro athlete also delivered a moving TEDx talk about athlete empowerment.
We joined as a partner with the recently formed Moms First to help lift up policies that support caregivers in our economy. We surpassed $1 million in funds given to non-profit organizations through our innovative Athlete Causes Program, which provides the opportunity for all AU athletes to play their season in part for the benefit of a non-profit organization of their choice. And we launched Power in My Voice, an initiative born from our Intersectional Equity Working Group, to demonstrate that everyone can have an impact by using their voice.
In 2022, we were proud to add to our growing network of world-class partners who are helping us improve our experience for athletes and fans. We continued our work with Aspiration that has allowed us to be the first U.S.-based sports league to commit to carbon-neutrality and partnered with EY to launch our Civic Leadership Award – an award given to a current Athletes Unlimited athlete for their exemplary civic leadership efforts. We will be announcing the 2022 award winner in the coming weeks.
We also launched the Innovation Collective, a collection of partners that bring cutting-edge advancements in sport performance and recovery, and training products and services to ensure that our athletes are competing at the highest level, and to enhance the fan experience through broadcast and multimedia engagements. We added 12 partners to the Innovation Collective, and are excited to expand this in 2023.
Additionally, we elevated our sports betting platform with a three-year partnership with Sportradar. Our four sports are approved in 15 states and counting, and had lines up for every game in 2022.
We are fortunate to have such meaningful partnerships with USA Volleyball, USA Lacrosse and organizations such as Little League, Starlings, Bronx Lacrosse and are excited to add new partners in the coming year. We are committed to being integrated into the fabric of the sports in which we operate pro leagues and are particularly committed to organizations and efforts to expand access to sport for those in underserved communities.
None of this would have been possible without the enduring partnership with our athletes, and in particular, the leadership of the athletes serving as members of each league’s Player Executive Committee, as well as our other working groups. Our four champions exhibited the breadth and talent of our player pool with veterans such as Tianna Hawkins and Bethania de la Cruz taking home the top spots in basketball and volleyball, respectively, and rookie Taylor Moreno winning in lacrosse, while Dejah Mulipola finished first in softball in only her second year in the league.
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In addition, we are grateful to the fans from around the world who have joined our Unlimited Club and, through their membership, directly contributed to our athletes. We were able to welcome fans to our venues for the first time in 2022, and nothing was better than seeing them come from across the country and as far away as Canada and Bahamas to attend games in person.
Finally, we want to thank our staff and colleagues. Their tireless dedication to our athletes and fans is what keeps this organization going. We often hear from people that they have never seen a group of people so dedicated to their organization’s mission. We are committed to being a transparent and inclusive organization that respects and values everyone.
As we look ahead to 2023, it is a truly unique moment in time for women’s professional sports. Almost every day, we read positive news about ratings, attendance, investors and partners supporting Athletes Unlimited or one of our peer leagues. We are proud to be part of this moment in time and know that we have contributed to the momentum.
Our mission, however, goes beyond elevating the sports. It goes to fundamentally reimagining the role athletes play in the leagues they participate in. We see sports as a place that lifts up athletes and shares decision-making and control in a way that makes them, as well as the leagues they play in, better off.
We founded this organization to start a revolution. We welcome you to be a bigger part of our community in 2023 than you were in 2022. While many talk of long-term trends and growth, we are not patient. We want to see change and growth happen quickly. We measure our progress in months, not decades, and so as we look ahead to 2023, our pace of action, innovation and improvement will continue apace
For that to be realized, we need each of you. You are a critical part of this journey in pro sports. We are grateful to have your support as we continue making history.
— Jon Patricof & Jonathan Soros
The Creation of Athletes Unlimited
Dates, Location revealed for 2023 AUX Softball and Softball Championship Season
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