If you haven't read Professional Leagues (Part 1) yet, click here.
We received some incredible feedback from the original Professional Leagues Feature, so I decided to follow up on it with even more details on some of the Women's Professional Leagues in the US. Featured in this segment will be National Pro Fastpitch (Women's Softball) and several other organizations.
NPF is National Pro Fastpitch, women's professional fast pitch softball. NPF and Monica Abbot of the Houston-area Scrap Yard Dawgs made headlines this year when Abbot signed a $1 million contract, structured in a way that guarantees money based on attendance bonuses (source: ESPNW.) The 6'3" pitcher was also a member of the 2008 silver-medal winning Olympic team.
Listen to Monica discuss what her contract means for female athletes of all sports here.
The season this past year featured 6 teams: Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Pennsylvania Rebellion, Scrap Yard Dawgs (Texas), Texas Charge, and USSSA Pride (Florida). The season ran from May-August and ended with the Chicago Bandits hoisting the Cowles Cup for the second year in a row. A detailed history of NPF and women's professional softball can be found here.
The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) was established in 1950 and, with that, is one of the longest-running women's professional sports organizations anywhere. Members of the LPGA tour represent 28 different countries around the world. There will be a program-high 35 events this year with millions up for grabs in purse money. Women of the LPGA include golfers like Lexi Thompson and Brooke Henderson. More info about the LPGA can be found on their website. Head's up- there's a $1.4 million purse available in the upcoming Pure Silk Bahamas Classic from January 26-29.
"The Women's Tennis Association is the global leader in women's professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations competing for a record $139 million in prize money." Pardon the cut and paste, but that was a well-said intro. The WTA boasts some of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. It was founded by total woman crush, Billie Jean King in 1973, notorious for her standout tennis career and Battle of the Sexes victory. The WTA rankings right now put Angelique Kerber at #1 followed by Serena Williams. According to Forbes Magazine, 8 of the 10 highest paid female athletes in 2016 were tennis players. (The other 2 were Ronda Rousey and Danika Patrick.) More information on the WTA can be found on their website.
We were also passionately asked to research the Women's Football Alliance and USA Rugby. Trust me, we see every comment that you guys make and take them to heart. I always get a little bit upset at first when someone comments and seems to think there's something we have missed. Kristie and Steph have to remind me that we are new at this and learning as we go. That's why they call me Panic Petunia, folks.
There is also NASCAR, Figure Skating, Cycling, and tons of other Olympic sports that we haven't gotten a chance to cover yet. Give us some time. We want to make sure that each sport and organization gets their fair share of coverage and we can't rush them all in at once. The Olympic/Team USA Sports are providing us with an interesting dialogue so be on the lookout for info about some of those teams coming soon! (Especially USA Rugby, I promise!)
In the meantime, give some of these women a follow on social media and watch some of the aforementioned events on TV this month. The more support we can inspire, the better! In truth, that's why we are doing this. Our hope is that we can attract people to our site and provide them with information that will allow them to better support female athletes and women's sports. National Pro Fastpitch, the LPGA tour, and the Women's Tennis Association are all doing their part to provide women with opportunities. Let's all do our part to show some support!