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What Is Athletes Unlimited?

ByQueen Ballers Club| January 6, 2023If you buy something from a link on our site, Queen Ballers Club may earn a commission.

Athletes Unlimited is a women’s professional sports league company that operates in the United States with a focus on basketball, softball, volleyball, and lacrosse. So today we’ll provide a quick overview of the Athletes Unlimited format, who their athletes are, and reveal some of the company’s plans for the future.

What Is Athletes Unlimited?

Athletes Unlimited was founded in 2020 as a public benefit corporation (a business whose stakeholders prize social good over financial returns, and whose board governs the company under that same belief) with the goal of providing a new format for team sports that emphasizes player empowerment and fan engagement. The company raised $30 million in new funding in 2022.

In Athletes Unlimited, players draft teams, make roster decisions, and compete in short, fast-paced tournaments. At the end of the season one player is crowned the champion, rather than a team.

“There’s something extremely special about playing this game here with AUProSports. I can’t put my finger on it. But this brings out the kid in us all, and to be around so many great players. This is adult AAU with all the feels. This is beyond fun.” said AU basketball player Rebecca Harris.

Player Executive Committee Member Natasha Cloud felt similarly sharing, “I’ve been saying that since week one, it’s like AAU. We all stay in the same hotel, all 44. We come in, we’re changing teams every week, changing jerseys. Your family gets to be here, your friends get to be here. And this is the most fun I’ve had hooping in probably the eight years that I’ve been a professional. And I think that speaks volumes, for not only the women here and what we’ve been able to create and the elite level that we’ve been able to play at, but also AU and the environment that they foster for us to just be ourselves and just have fun.”

Off the field, the company has offered childcare benefits, gives athletes a pathway to have a financial stake in their own leagues, established an Intersectional Equity Working Group, provides professional development programming that covers financial literacy, nutrition and mental health counseling, among other topics, and makes regular donations to nonprofits chosen by the players. As just one example, basketball player Isabelle Harrison played her first AU season for the Lupus Foundation of America in support of her siblings.

AU aims to bring fans closer to the game as well, by eliminating barriers to enjoying professional sports, co-creating with athletes to tell their stories, and letting fans bet. There’s dope merchandise too.

Despite starting with softball which had huge television ratings, their largest audience appears to be for women’s volleyball. “I hope we’ll be known for building a community of athletes across sports and across generations who lift each other up along with their fans and supporters.” said Jonathan Soros, Athletes Unlimited, Co-Founder.

Who competes in Athletes Unlimited?

As of 2023, Athletes Unlimited runs five leagues a year, with two for softball (including aux softball), one for volleyball, one for basketball, and one for lacrosse. “Our thought was, let’s not reach scale simply by expanding the number of teams or expanding the duration of the season, but let’s actually expand through the number of sports in our network,” CEO and Co-Founder Jon Patricof told Forbes.

Each league has a roster of 44 to 60 players per season. For women’s volleyball and lacrosse, AU is the only option to play professionally in the US.

AU recruits the best athletes in each sport to join their leagues, which could be college graduates, players sick of going overseas, or older players nearing the end of their careers. Plus top athletes that have completed their NCAA eligibility can even try out for some of the leagues through their open tryouts.

Importantly, there are no coaches, only facilitators, who work for the weekly team captains. So only the team’s captain can make on-court/field decisions like player subs, challenges, or timeouts.

Where does Athletes Unlimited take place?

Each league’s games all take place in one location which is a different city each year, and last for five weeks. This year’s basketball season will take place in Dallas, Texas at the Fair Park Coliseum beginning February 22, 2023 and ending March 26 – just five days before the NCAA Women’s Final Four Tournament.

Watch Athletes Unlimited

Youth development is something AU is looking to support and give resources too in the future. “We are doing that right now in lacrosse with camps in four different cities.” said Jon Patricof, “We also plan on having more opportunities for kids that haven’t had exposure to come together, because as we’ve seen, there are a tremendous number of talents out there.”

When asked about whether there might be a longer season in the future by ONE37pm, Jon said, “As of now, we don’t plan on making the seasons too much longer. It’s not our objective to replace the major leagues. We are more of a “1+1+3” league to allow players to have more opportunities. There are definitely a lot of great things ahead in the future though!”

In the years to come, the company would also like to grow its sports offerings, perhaps create men’s leagues, and become the first carbon-neutral pro league reports Forbes. For now, its priority is to grow an audience – and you can be a part of that! Check out how to watch Athletes Unlimited or go inside the inaugural Athletes Unlimited basketball season with Natasha Cloud.

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