The World 1 League officially launched Tuesday, putting a social-media spin on Olympic events. The company, founded by nine Olympians, will host online competitions in sprinting, weightlifting, swimming and other disciplines, inviting athletes to submit videos via TikTok and Instagram.
“TikTok and Instagram are generating and engaging worldwide audiences in numbers far greater than the major TV networks,” co-founder and CEO Brett Morris said in a statement. “There’s no better medium to develop and introduce a new sports league.” Morris, who previously co-founded now-public Super League Gaming, founded W1L along with five-time Olympic track medalist Sanya Richards-Ross and three-time Olympic swimmer Erik Vendt.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is among the startup’s investors, along with venture capitalist Jim Swartz. “Really excited about what they are doing,” said Cuban, who previously employed Morris as Mark Cuban Companies’ SVP. “Giving track and field athletes a chance to shine and the rest of the world a chance to compete with the best.”
Athletes around the world will be asked to capture their own performances, with W1L also planning live events in the future. The company hopes to help performers generate video sponsorship deals as well. Olympic athletes have long struggled to turn quadrennial glory into steady income, though social media platforms have allowed them to capitalize on their influence. W1L originally planned to launch last year, and has hosted events in the interim. Its first official online competition will be a long jump event, with youth and “elite” categories, culminating on Aug. 3, the day of the Olympic long jump finals. Entries will be tagged with a World 1 League hashtag, in the vein of viral challenges.
“With our challenges open to everyone, all athletes can go to social media to not just watch, but compete in what could easily become the world’s largest sports competition,” Vendt said in a statement. While anyone can compete, the company plans to court Olympic-level competitors.
Bestowing titles like World’s Fastest Man and World’s Fastest Woman, World 1 League also hopes to highlight athlete personalities and develop storylines for Gen Z followers. “We want to be the WWE of world sports,” Morris said.