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Part start-up story, part goose-bump inducing sports doc, the three-part series takes us onto the fields and behind the scenes to tell the unlikely origin story behind LA’s new professional women’s soccer team, Angel City, which upended the business model behind pro sports teams while bringing together an unprecedented team of high-profile investors.
Natalie Portman, who was instrumental to the team’s founding, is featured throughout, along with soccer icons including Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach and backers such as Alexis Ohanian, Eva Longoria, and Jennifer Garner. Venture capital powerhouse and co-founder Kara Nortman also plays a prominent role.
It feels like a long time coming — this doc, this team, this story. Not just because it shines the HBO Klieg lights on a women’s pro sports team at a time when all media attention is focused on men’s basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer, golf…etc.
What makes this docuseries a must-watch is that it reveals how the entire playbook behind professional sports was thrown out to form an upstart soccer team, one created during the pandemic by an unlikely coalition of 100+ high profile investors, most of them women.
Even more impressive is that all of these backers got on board while ensuring that the players would get fair pay, a cut of ticket sales, better working conditions, and career training for when they leave the sport. I mean, you gotta wonder what the guys over at Wrexham will have to say about this!
“In order to change systems, you have to start over,” Abby Wambach explains in the series. “And you have to rebuild it with something different.” Wambach reveals that after receiving the ESPYS Icon award in 2016 along with Kobe Bryant and Eli Manning, she became sharply aware of how different their retirements would unfold. She needed to find a job and health insurance to pay the bills. They needed to figure out how to spend all their millions.
Many of us remember where we were in July of 1999 during the women’s World Cup finals, when an ecstatic Brandi Chastain dropped to her knees in her sports bra, and women’s soccer was suddenly the biggest story of the summer. It felt like a major turning point.
Yet as the series makes clear, it’s been a rocky road for women’s sports and women athletes in the nearly quarter century since. With an all new business model, a massive coalition of backers, and the passions of the younger generations, can they truly change the game this time?
“We believe that in order for women’s sports to grow, we have to fill that stadium,” says Angel City’s Catherine Davila. Watch the series, then check out their games and see if they can pull it off.
A rousing sports story wrapped around an illuminating business story, Angel City drops us into the stadiums and captures the adrenaline rush of a brand new professional soccer team, where the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been.
The team’s lead investor, Alexis Ohanian, got inspired while watching the 2019 World Cup Final with his wife, tennis star Serena Williams, and their daughter, Olympia. “And I mention to my wife, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice one day if Olympia played in the World Cup?’” Ohanian told CBS News. “And without missing a beat, Serena says, ‘Not until they pay her what she’s worth.’ And I said, ‘challenge accepted.’” (Olympia, 5, is also an investor.)