It's no secret that professional opportunities are limited for female athletes once they graduate college. Many women's leagues struggle to find support and funding, especially sports that are not incredibly mainsteam. Still, these challenges have not detered Digit Murphy and Arona Kirby, co-founders of the United Women's Lacrosse League (UWXL). The women are focused on the double bottom line; first, they want to build a sustainable league for the growing number of female lacrosse players in the United States. Secondly, they want to change the definition of success for professional women's sports and empower women to pursue their athletic careers after college despite the challenges that come along with that path.
The UWXL believes that comparing women's sports to men's ultimately hurts their credibility because, to be frank, there is no comparison. Deep-rooted sexism and a lack of corporate sponsorships plague women's leagues. Murphy and Kirby are attempting to combat those issues by reinforcing the facts - lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and female participation has increased almost 30% in the past five years. The UWXL has a good foundation with buy-in from USA Lacrosse but will undoubtedly need more support as it continues to grow. Their mission is to develop more opportunities for women across the board, and they are using lacrosse as a vehicle. To bolster their efforts on the field, Murphy and Kirby established the Play It Forward Foundation to advocate for pay equality through sports and community education.
The UWXL offers a look at an organization considering the double bottom line at the start. Many leagues and teams have doubled their efforts in corporate social responsibility, but very few started with the greater good in mind. If the UWXL remains steady, it will be an excellent example of creating profit and social impact at the same time.