On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams sit with Jessica Berman, the new commissioner of the NWSL, to discuss her career and the future of professional women’s soccer in the U.S.
Berman was hired Wednesday after spending three years as the deputy commissioner of the NLL. Also a former NHL executive, she signed a four-year deal with the NWSL that will formally begin on April 20, but she’s already meeting with key stakeholders both inside the league and beyond it.
She breaks down the opportunity she sees for the NWSL, coming off a season in which record commercial growth was overshadowed by an ugly abuse scandal that exposed problems around the league and led to the departure of her predecessor. Berman talks about the NWSL’s new labor accord, its expanded portfolio of partners, and the league’s strong relationship with its players.
To highlight that last point, she mentions that during the hiring process, the NWSL union was brought into discussions with Berman and allowed to ask her questions. That’s something that almost certainly wouldn’t happen at other bigger leagues in the U.S.
Lastly, Berman talks about the growing number of female executives in professional sports. She mentions the difference between diversity, which she defines as “an invitation to the party,” and inclusion, which she defines as “having fun at the party.” Sports is making more progress on diversity than inclusion, she says.