If the league’s first momentum shift was one in all collective motion by its players, the second was the introduction of a club like Angel City, a team conceived, founded and run by women.
“We wanted to indicate that we were different,” Uhrman, the team president, said. “That we could lead on with purpose but in addition have a goal of being profitable. And showing that it is a real business, and investing in women and investing in women’s sports is definitely an excellent investment.”
Angel City executives are wanting to discuss the club’s goals, which include a give attention to investing in Los Angeles — club sponsors are required to place 10 percent of the worth of their sponsorships into local organizations — and equity for its players. Angel City players who allow using their likeness to advertise the club, for instance, will receive 1 percent of net ticket revenue this season.
It’s a difficult line to walk, though, to be seen as each a charitable endeavor and a business opportunity dusted by celebrity — all while fielding a competitive team.
“The shiny veneer, the incredible photo op, the good social media branding is one thing, but how will this actually affect the lived experience of those athletes?” said Dr. Courtney M. Cox, an assistant professor on the University of Oregon who studies problems with labor, identity and technology in sports. “What is that this actually doing for anyone besides the investors themselves with the ability to say, ‘Look I own a team’?”
Further complicating the glowing reception that Angel City has received is the idea that a club founded by women — Uhrman, the actress Natalie Portman and Kara Nortman, a enterprise capitalist — and majority-owned by women someway guaranteed things could be higher for its women’s players.
“To say, ‘We’re going to purchase this team and due to this fact we’re empowering women’ — what are you empowering them to do? What are you empowering them for?” said Sarah Banet-Weiser, a communications professor on the Annenberg Schools on the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California. “If it’s just continuing to grow the brand, how is that going to vary the sexist structure of athletics?”