- The National Women’s Soccer League awarded a group spearheaded by actress Natalie Portman the right to form a franchise in Los Angeles.
- The new LA team will make its debut in spring 2022 and has not officially announced a name yet, but is being referred to as WFC LA or Angel City.
- Along with Portman, founders include stars like Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Lili Singh, as well as former professional players Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Lauren Cheney Holiday, among others.
- The group hopes a team in LA will help women’s soccer get the attention and celebration it deserves, as well as inspire local youth with heroes of their own.
NWSL Approves LA Team
Los Angeles is getting a new women’s soccer team thanks to a group lead by actress Natalie Portman.
On Tuesday, the National Women’s Soccer League awarded Portman’s group the right to form a franchise in Los Angeles, a city that is home to the second-largest sports market in the country.
The team has not officially revealed its name yet and plans to do so later this year, but far, it’s been referred to as WFC LA or Angel City. The franchise will make its debut in spring 2022 and will join the Portland Thorns and OL Reign as the league’s third West Coast team.
Why Did Portman Spearhead the Push for an LA Team?
Portman was reportedly inspired to take a closer took at the National Women’s Soccer Leave after she was introduced to more players by Becca Roux, the executive director of the USWNT Player’s association.
Portman told PEOPLE magazine that she started attending games and became passionate about the sport, but eventually realized it wasn’t getting the “celebration it deserved.”
She cited a study from the University of Minnesota that found women’s sports only receives 4% of sports media coverage and said she believed there was an opportunity to change how women’s soccer is perceived in America. That eventually evolved into the idea to bring a team to a place that is central for entertainment and media.
“After spending time with the USWNT players, their union rep, and getting to know some of the owners of the NWSL and the league’s supporters, it became clear having a team in L.A. could not only elevate the league and players’ exposure, but also bring these incredibly talented women to the city of L.A.—my city,” Portman told Sportico. “We have the ability to engage, promote and support the best players in the world in the most popular sport in the world on a yearly basis, not just every four years.”
The Founders and Public Reactions
To make this happen, Portman brought on a team of predominantly women to be in the ownership group. Founders include venture capital Kara Nortman, gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who led the investment with his venture capitalist fund Initialized Capital. He also made a personal investment on behalf of his wife, tennis star Serena Williams, and their two-year-old daughter who is likely now the youngest known professional sports team owner.
Founders also include stars like Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Fererra, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, and Lili Singh, as well as a collection of more than a dozen retired women’s soccer players like Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, and Lauren Cheney Holiday.
Though the team hasn’t debuted yet, it has already partnered with the LA84 Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports girls in sports and increases youth access to sports in underserved communities.
Portman says part of the reason she wanted to build a new franchise was to inspire youth in the city with female soccer heroes to call their own. “[We want to] expand those sports heroes — and those sports modeling behaviors — to have women in those positions, too,” she said.
“To celebrate women at the same level as the way we celebrate male athletes is culture-shifting.”
So far, the news has been met with a ton of excitement online, especially since Los Angeles has long been viewed as a potential landing spot for a new NWSL team. On top of that, Southern California, in general, has produced some major soccer stars and is home to top college programs at schools like UCLA and USC, so a team backed by the NWSL could definitely draw in big crowds of fans and give young athletes a new team to set their sights on.
As of this morning, groups celebrating the news include the LA Rams, the LA Sparks, and UCLA Women’s soccer.
Lil Nas X Starts Bail Project Fund After Releasing Prison-Set Video for “Industry Baby”
The singer said he is working to address “the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community.“
Lil Nas X Starts Bail X Fund
Following the release of his latest single “Industry Baby,” Lil Nas X launched a partnership with The Bail Project that aims to cover bail funds for people across the country.
The music video for the song took place in the fictional “Montero State Prison,” a reference to the title of his upcoming album and the singer’s real name. While Lil Nas X spent much of his time online promoting the video with memes, he put a pause on the jokes Saturday to announce the Bail X Fund and bring attention to issues regarding incarceration in the United States.
“On a serious note, I know the pain that incarceration brings to a family,” Lil Nas X tweeted. “And the disproportionate impact that cash bail has on the black community. That’s why I teamed up with @bailproject to create the Bail X Fund.”
The Bail Project aims to eliminate cash bail in the U.S. It has posted over $47 million in free bail for over 17,000 low-income people across the country. It also provides post-release support and services to those who need them.
“Music is the way I fight for liberation. It’s my act of resistance,” Lil Nas X wrote in a statement on the fund’s website. “But I also know that true freedom requires real change in how the criminal justice system works. Starting with cash bail.”
The Fight to End Cash Bail
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, like many issues within the criminal justice system, cash bail disproportionately harms Black Americans. The group claims that Black and brown defendants are somewhere between 10% to 25% “more likely than white defendants to be detained pretrial or to have to pay money bail.” It also argues that Black men are 50% more likely to be detained pretrial than white defendants, and says Black and brown defendants generally “receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants – and they are less likely to be able to afford it.”
Lil Nas X said he is “doing something” to address these issues and invited his fans to join him. He hopes that his efforts will encourage other artists to use their platforms to likewise speak about these injustices.
“Ending cash bail is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time,” he wrote. “Donate what you can to the Bail X Fund. Let’s bring people home & let’s fight for freedom and equality.”
A donation tab was attached to the song’s music video, where it says nearly $44,000 has been raised for the Bail X Fund. The video has blown up on YouTube, racking up over 31 million views. It remains the number one trending video in music as of Monday morning.
The song has likewise found success on Spotify, where it debuted at number two and eventually reached the number one spot.
Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation
Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.
Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence
A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson.
On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.
Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.
Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe.
“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”
About the Home
The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.
The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.
Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple.
In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)
Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians
The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Name Change Announced
Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.
The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.
“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”
This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans.
Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.
Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.
It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history.
“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release.
“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”
“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”
Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).