via ESPNW on June 20th, 2017 by Jonathan Sigal, photo via UWLX
Author’s Note: I missed this one back in June when it came out and given that the Women are trying to start their SECOND professional league in 2 years, and the overlap between those who built the first one being involved in leaving and building the second one it’s hard to ignore thinking about this. The new league held its’ draft yesterday and I’ll be looking for Florida ties in that draft.
One thing that caught my attention (besides the obvious grammatical error in the headline . . . ) was some of the evolution in the rules that the UWLX, the first league, allowed, such as more contact. Slightly moving the league to the male version. I’ve been writing the last few years that the athleticism of the newer female athletes seems to be outstripping the rules of the traditional women’s game and how will the sport adapt to that reality might be a point of competition between the two leagues.
Digit Murphy was at her home in Providence, Rhode Island, when she got a text from a lacrosse colleague. Strange rumblings were making the rounds.
Word had it that there was a new professional women’s lacrosse league in the works. The curious thing was, there already was a new professional women’s lacrosse league in the works. Murphy, in fact, had co-founded the United Women’s Lacrosse League in 2016. As CEO, she was looking forward to the Season 2 opener, which was just days away.
On Memorial Day weekend, from the strange rumblings came an astonishing announcement. Starting in 2018, the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League would begin play. Its founder was Michele DeJuliis, a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame who also happened to be the original commissioner of Murphy’s league.
“Seeing this other league come up, to me, it’s insanity,” Murphy said. “The fact that in the second year you’re going to try and add another league, it’s another mistake that women’s sports are going to make. I chuckle at it, because everyone wants to get in it, but people don’t understand there’s a lot of work involved and it’s a lot of educating and changing social norms.
“Women’s professional sports is in its very, very young level and time in our society. Everyone wants everything to happen quickly, and it can happen quicker if everyone lifts up the sport and we don’t try to detract from it or separate it.”
While not ready to divulge too many details about the newest league, DeJuliis said it has a different goal than the UWLX.
“We have a different focus, a different mission and therefore we are a different league,” she said. “I just know what we are about and I don’t want to really get into anything negative that would impact [the UWLX]. I was a part of that league.”
Contributing to Murphy’s shock was that the UWLX had already experienced growth in its short existence.
In Year 1 of UWLX, the league didn’t pay its players, but, it is paying a stipend in Year 2. It has big-name sponsors, too, such as STX, a lacrosse equipment manufacturer, and Nike, the global sports brand. Its four teams — the Baltimore Pride, Boston Storm, Long Island Sound and Philadelphia Force — also have local sponsors. Plus, games are often held at large-scale youth tournaments, so that the UWLX players, many of whom are also college coaches on the recruiting swing, are already in attendance. That’s led to an average of 500 fans per game with tickets costing between $10-$15.
Read the rest HERE