“Protect the players, protect the women”

It’s a simple philosophy that the best CEOs of retail companies, for example, apply it their own way. To understand consumers, they will observe them and meet them in the store. They listen to them and get acquainted with all the habits of those who buy their products, are sensitive to the slightest change in consumption. And when these consumers engage themselves and interact with crowded social movements, the smartest leaders know they can’t ignore them.

In 2019, the Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 53% of employees worldwide believe that every brand has a responsibility to engage in a social cause, while 54% of employees believe CEOs should take a public stand during political and social disagreements. the reasons. The message is clear: companies must take the pulse of the communities and environments in which they operate and they must act.

With its organizational charts and the revenue it generates, nothing more differs between sports leagues and the most profitable companies in the Fortune 500 rankings. As such, the league that has responded best to the social upheavals of recent years as well as cultural changes is the National Basketball Association (NBA). For his unwavering support for the Black Lives Matter movement From his participation in the recent US presidential election, to his mental health policy, the National Basketball Association has often shown, through its decisions, that its players are at the heart of the league.

league Focuses on the player. It all starts with the commissioner’s hearing. That’s the legacy that David Stern, who took over the league in 1984, passed on to Adam Silver, who now holds the position.

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On the other end of the spectrum, until recently I thought the National Football League (NFL) was stupid about leagues. Then came the devastating revelations of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the National Women’s Soccer League, which was revealed in an investigation by the athlete, Last month.

Paul Riley has been Courage coach since 2017.

Photo: Andy Mead / isiphotos.com

10 years ago, Paul Riley was coach of the Philadelphia team at the WPS, the predecessor of the NWSL. Mana Shim, who was a player on the team, alleged that she was harassed by the coach. That wouldn’t be the only gap for Paul Riley, who, according to Shem and his teammate, Sinead Farrelly, continued to shift from harassment to verbal abuse, and from misconduct to sexual coercion. That was until 2015, when Riley was fired by the Portland Thorns, who hired him.

In a near-perfect world or a league more attentive to players, Paul Riley would see a football field through bars only. Instead, and in the most flawed transaction, Riley will be named coach of the New York Flash the following season, and will follow the club when its name is changed to Courage, to his new hometown in North Carolina. Was there until last month.

If Paul Riley had been a teacher, would he have been assigned to another school?

Over the years, the National Judicial Police Association woven a web of complicity so narrow that it was able to stifle the most despicable crimes. So water-resistant that the league didn’t see it until 2017, Me too mean too It will never happen again And that in the streets next to the football fields, there was a mark that changed the world. Get out of the building! Tom Wolfe suggested.

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But, unfortunately, this is a movie we actually saw and it’s still on the bill. Champions Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Gabe Douglas are among more than 150 athletes who have accused Larry Nassar, a former physician on the US women’s gymnastics team, of sexual assault that began in the 1990s. Then accusations were brought against some swimming coaches, here and elsewhere.

The NWSL Players Association is talking about systematic violations in the league, which appears unable to protect its players. In addition to the charges brought against Paul Riley and other league coaches, such as Fred Benestetti and Richie Burke, players describe a culture of control, which limits their rights and offers them salaries that rarely exceed $30,000 a year.

NWSL prides itself on being the best in its sport and, in addition to scandals, the past few months have, paradoxically, seen a major boom. Earlier this year, the league signed lucrative partnership deals with giants Google and Procter & Gamble.

Then, the crown jewel of any sports league: a lucrative broadcast deal. For NWSL, the jeweler is CBS. Now that the financial viability of this young league is almost guaranteed and that it continues to attract high caliber athletes, the leadership must change. One that would replace opacity with transparency and make players’ welfare a priority.

The increase in the popularity of this sport and its profitability prospects have attracted well-known investors. In addition to Oscar De La Hoya, NWSL teams include Naomi Osaka, Natalie Portman, Serena Williams and Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary, among their groups. Perhaps their social commitments and activism will affect the leadership of the league?

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Protect players. protect women, in a tweet to Canadian Kristen Sinclair, who plays for the Portland Thorns. It’s a long time.

Martin Saint-Victor is a communications strategist and general manager of Edelman Montreal

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