ESPNW Profiles Jesse Shofner, Organization Of AUDL Boycott

Jesse Shofner competing against Scandal as a member of the All-Star Ultimate Tour. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

ESPNW, the women’s sports arm of ESPN, published an article today that profiles Jesse Shofner and her role in organizing a boycott of the American Ultimate Disc League.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The AUDL is nominally the pro league, but it doesn’t pay much and there are debates within the sport about if it’s truly the highest level of play — debates that Shofner is not shying away from. Does the sport need the legitimacy of being “professional”? What if that comes by adding referees and not having a women’s league? Is this approach player-driven enough? “Behind the scenes and in the community, there is a conversation about if this is the direction we want to grow the sport,” Shofner says.

Last year, while back in Nashville after graduating, Shofner tried out for the AUDL’s Nashville Nightwatch mostly to see if she could. She liked playing with the team over the season, but actually felt that there have been more high-level teams she has played on. And she’s not sure she’d do it again, at least not the way the AUDL is currently organized. “She was kind of tokenized last year,” says Chastain.

The responsibility she feels as a highly visible woman in the sport is partially why Shofner took a lead in organizing the boycott of participating in or watching AUDL games, which became public this week. The boycott has already prompted the AUDL to outline what it calls a “gender equity plan,” which would promote a handful of separate women’s games over the year.

But Shofner, Chastain and the others don’t want separate games — they want equal promotion of women’s sports. That’s why they pushed USA Ultimate to change its deal with ESPN so that both women’s and men’s games during the national championships are televised and the prime-time spots get rotated. And it’s why Shofner doesn’t plan on being quiet any time soon, even if it makes things tough sometimes.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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