Women's sports leagues band together with SheIS initiative

League of women's sports leagues together with the SheIS initiative

League of women's sports leagues together with the SheIS initiative

Associated Press
News May 1, 2018, 12:33 IST

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NEW YORK (AP) – Women's sports leagues are joining for the first time a new initiative: SheIS.

Eight leagues, including the WNBA, the US Tennis Association. The Pro Fastpitch League of Women and Canadian Women's Hockey will try to help each other increase resources, audience and attendance.

"Each commissioner agreed to attend each other's events," WNBA president Lisa Borders told The Associated Press. "Women must support women before asking for help from other people, I'll buy a ticket for a hockey game in Canada or a fast-pitch softball game."

All league marshals signed an engagement and filmed a public service announcement promoting the Esos movement that will begin to spread on Tuesday.

"It's a social media campaign for now, but it will grow," Borders added. "This is only level one."

The initiative was the brainchild of Brenda Andress, commissioner of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. First came the idea last November

"This collective sports voice was never heard, I wanted to create some kind of program or challenge to unite women who were born of positivity," Andress said. "So I thought of Sheis, when I thought of myself, it's a grandmother with small children, she's a commissioner, she's a hockey player, that's what she wants to be, that's where Sheis comes from."

Andress approached Borders and USTA Executive Director Stacey Allaster, who quickly jumped on board.

"Immediately, they were very understanding," said Andress. "We have to do it together, let's do it, but let's do it right, it will be professional, first class, it's about us, as women, recognizing that we can take fans not only to hockey, but to the WNBA, more eyes on the television. It's not that everyone else makes the difference for us, but that we make the difference for ourselves. "

It has been discussed over the years about the wage gap between genders in sports. Tennis is one of the few sports where women have some parity with men in terms of earnings. The four Grand Slam events pay both sexes equally.

"I think the secret sauce for women's tennis began with our athletes," Allaster said. "It took their defense and courage to face the establishment, like soccer players and hockey players, it was Billie Jean King and the original 9 who said they would do this in the 1970s. The athletes have the power and SheIS is a great time to energize our athletes. "

The Sheis group only needs to look to Seattle to see a group that already uses this cross sporting support format. Force 10 Sports Management owns and operates Seattle Storm. The group also runs the Seattle Reign of the women's soccer league and the Seawolves of the rugby league. There is cross promotion between sports.

"Seattle is absolutely the model," Borders said. "They did it before Sheis was born."

The city itself has also hosted athletes such as Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe and Breanna Stewart.

Prior to Tuesday's launch, members of the founding committee, league marshals and prominent members from around the sport world gathered at the WNBA office in New York to sign the SheIS commitment.

"The heroes who run, walk and play among us make up 51 percent of the world's population, but they have little or no visibility in the world of sports," said Dr. Jen Welter, who was the first coach in the NFL. "SheIS will provide the first real platform for these real-world real heroes who have lived among us, with the opportunity to be much more visible and for athletes and their followers to join forces in a really positive way. This bubbling movement comes from the sports industry, because sports have the ability to change the world. "

Andress hopes that other sports such as football, gymnastics, swimming, cycling and running will join the movement.

The initiative is not limited to sports leagues. The WWE also joined, with Stephanie McMahon taking the pledge.

"Women have been competitive for so long no matter what they do in life," said WNBA player Chiney Ogwumike. "We are even more powerful when we collaborate, in public, we have to support each other"


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