My name's Paul Rabil and I'm a professional lacrosse player, entrepreneur and investor. Last week, we launched the Premier Lacrosse League, the first professional sports league in the US to offer equity to its players. There are 6 teams comprised of 160 of the best players in the world that will compete in a 14 weekend tour-based season across the US. Beginning in June and ending in September 2019, all games will be broadcasted live by the NBC Sports Group.

Beyond playing lacrosse, I founded a non-profit to help children with learning differences through sport and scholarship, host a podcast interviewing world-class performers in sports, tech and media, and have invested in over a dozen early stage startups.

I look forward to answering your questions, AMA!

proof: https://twitter.com/PaulRabil/status/1057764666783514624

Comments: 107 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

marylandchad25 karma

Paul, where will the HQ be? When do you plan on hiring staff?

PaulRabil_Official21 karma

We'll be making our HQ announcement very soon...in the coming days/week. Will also have offices in multiple cities. We need to establish a presence with other major team sports leagues, so we can capitalize on existing partnerships (NBC), build new ones, and support our players.

We have a great staff and are continuing to bring on top talent. You can submit your information in our CAREER section at premierlacrosseleague.com.

PaulRabil_Official24 karma

Wow -- amazing turnout and thank you for all of your stimulating questions. Hopefully I got to enough to keep you satisfied, and look forward to coming back to the Reddit community for another AMA soon.

Yours in the journey, Paul Rabil

brownsteve81118 karma

Hey Paul, do plan to take the PLL to newer lacrosse regions that have developed interest in the game? Ex. Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona.

PaulRabil_Official16 karma

You've got it.

Our tour-based premise had to do with 2 main factors:

  1. In a pro sport like lacrosse, you're actually in fewer than 10 cities (vs. the NFL/NBA/MLB in 30+), thereby isolating the sport from a majority of markets. By going on tour, you can bring the pro games to established and emerging markets. We think that with a tour-based model, we become more national, where fans of lacrosse everywhere can pick their allegiance to team based on fandom, rather than city.

  2. Lacrosse owners don't own venues. Which is a challenging piece -- for scheduling, operations, and TV opportunities. By going tour-based, we can choose the best stadiums that fit our experience, market demands, and TV programming opportunities.

OBLIVIUSHusky17 karma

How much inspiration did this league format get from the LXM Pro Tour? Do you plan on conducting a draft the first year or to play with the talent collected first? If you are having a draft is there a combine? Will it be open to all?

PaulRabil_Official16 karma

Thanks for the question. LXM Pro Tour had a couple of concepts right: (1) bringing pro talent to new/emerging markets, and (2) adding an interactive layer to the pro games (music and youth tournaments).

While those two facets are important, our core ethos was taking the best players in the world, compensating them with FT wages, creating a competitive and seasonal schedule that culminates in a championship, and ensuring the games would be broadcasted and distributed in-homes and on-screens everywhere.

There will be a college draft every year. And more news coming soon around team formations, coaches, and team management.

Drafts will be conducted per application and eligibility (per the usual suspects of NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB).

MTUCache14 karma

When do you expect/hope to be making announcements about: - Team names/gear - Tour cities (even if dates/venues are still TBD)?

Can't wait to see the PLL on TV, and I'm hoping that Chicago will be the furthest I need to travel to take my kids to a PLL event (central MI here).

Thanks so much for all you do, and best of luck with the PLL!

PaulRabil_Official20 karma

Awesome. Thanks for the questions. We have a great announcement calendar, built by our media team, that has the results for each of those topics. Some will arrive in the coming weeks, and others by the end of the year.

Chicago is a wonderful city, isn't it? I've hosted a number of engaging youth events there, and we know it's home to a quickly emerging lacrosse participant cohort -- as well as rabid sports fans.

DanAreLax11 karma

Hey Paul,

As you launch the PLL, the pro women's game is also trying to get off the ground and gain some visibility. The other day Jules Heningburg posted a cool video on YouTube featuring Kylie Ohlmiller. As you guys launched, were there ever any discussions on possible cross promotion with the women's pro league, or is that something you might think about working on in the future?

Thanks for answers, great to have a lacrosse AMA.

PaulRabil_Official11 karma

Great question! And yes, we're very keen on working in partnership with women's professional lacrosse. They have a great vision, founding team, world-class players, and a phenomenal product. More news to come soon...

And I love both Jules and Kylie -- that video collaboration was awesome.

greenflamingo18 karma

How do you view the future of the tour based model? Will you make the same stops year after year, change the stops up, or even split teams up so you can spend one weekend traveling to two or three smaller markets? The launch of the league has been spotless, looking forward to watching.

PaulRabil_Official11 karma

Thanks for the note -- and great questions.

Coming up shortly, we'll be announcing the cities the PLL will be playing in this coming 2019 season. In major, proven markets, we can bet that the PLL will be back in subsequent seasons. But a big piece of our operation revolves around learning. We'll constantly be listening to your feedback, reviewing results, and planning to take the PLL to new markets, so we can grow the game appropriately and commercially.

Growth will lead to expansion. Expansion of teams can turn into multiple tour stops per weekend, or potentially, a revisiting of a city-based model (we'd just need to have a commitment of more than 10 markets, and fantastic venue options).

holy_cal7 karma

Did you know it was illegal to swim in the Inner Harbour when you guys retrieved your drone that fell in?

PaulRabil_Official14 karma

I did not -- but in hindsight, should've asked. In other news, we found the drone. Unfortunately, it sustained too much water damage to survive.

ishkabibble0016 karma

Hey Paul,

It's been a pleasure watching you since your days playing for JHU and the Cannons.

What is the most challenging part in offering your players equity?

Also, do you think other major sports could move to this model?

Thanks

PaulRabil_Official5 karma

Thanks for the note. Appreciate all of your support along the way.

Honestly, there was no challenge in offering our players' equity. This was table stakes for us. They deserve it, and it aligns players interests, resources, and upside better with the company, our model, and everyone's success.

And yes, I think other leagues will begin to replicate this.

canlax123455 karma

Hi Paul,

I have heard mentioned full time wages multiple times. As that can be interpreted in many ways, could you elaborate on the pay structure further? For example, will an athlete make “Full Time” waves from just the PLL to last the entire 12 months. Or will he make full tome wages during the leagues playing season?

Thanks and nice work!

PaulRabil_Official3 karma

Great question. Our FT wages are significantly increased from the part-time wage scale in the US (and previously distributed by MLL), and now on par with other industry FT wage scales. And you nailed -- like with most pro sports leagues, our players will be paid from the beginning to the end of the season -- not over the course of the year. I believe the only sport that does that is MLB, although I'm not certain.

Hoohhah5 karma

Paul, how would you like to see the PLL improve on current shortcomings for the MLL and NLL in terms of outreach and getting more people to watch lacrosse on TV? Also, very excited to see pros branching off from the norm to help our sport grow, and I wish you all the best of luck!

PaulRabil_Official9 karma

We think about ways to galvanize the built-in lacrosse fan base, as well as capture the attention of net new sports fans. We'll be accomplishing this by putting the players and competitive games first -- and we'll do so by broadcasting high-quality game feeds on NBC, and hosting player-specific original programming. Sports fans want to be captured by the narrative of the players, then cheer for them (and their favorite teams) all the way down to the final whistle.

We're also investing in nationwide and local partnerships -- with major corporate partners, US Lacrosse, lacrosse media companies, and youth organizations. And the work doesn't stop there. Our operating team has a robust inside/outside sales and marketing strategy we're excited to deploy in 2019.

cntstpwntstp205 karma

Hey Paul, thank you so much for everything you've done to grow the game as a player coach and businessman. My question is how did you go about starting this league from the ground up? Who would you say have been the biggest influencers in this league outside of yourself?

PaulRabil_Official4 karma

Thanks for the note -- it's meaningful.

Building any major sports league from the ground level is very challenging. From vision, financing, corporate governance, building an executive team, media, marketing, and executing across business channels are all a part of our daily output. We're excited to share a lot of that process through our social media channels (instagram.com/PLL, twitter.com/PremierLacrosse, facebook.com/PremierLacrosseLeague), and even through a web series that's running on my youtube channel called THE LEAGUE (youtube.com/paulrabil).

Biggest influences have been:

  1. The players -- by far. Their energy, excitement, intellectual horsepower, and resilience are a constant source for all of us on the operating team.
  2. Our investors and advisors
  3. Other leagues like the NBA, UFC, WSL, PBR, NASCAR, and even lacrosse-specific events like the Final Four

WhoSaidOctopus5 karma

Hey Paul, thanks for doing an AMA. I’ve been a fan of yours since you played at Homewood field back in the day. My question is, how does your league intend to compete in the attracting of collegiate players against the other prominent pro-lax leagues in the market today?

PaulRabil_Official6 karma

Thanks for the note -- I often reminisce in the good old days of Homewood Field.

We believe that talent attracts talent, and building a league with meaningful enterprise value will entice the top talent in NCAA lacrosse. Top competition, full time wages, and games broadcasted live on NBC will be table stakes for the next draftees.

Robito5555 karma

Paul, I began playing lacrosse on my school's first ever lacrosse club team in a rural county in Kentucky around 10 years ago, and have been playing ever since. During that time, the craze of lacrosse being the fastest growing sport on two feet was in full effect.

Today, it feels that the momentum has somewhat stagnated. Does the Premier Lacrosse League hope to tour and expose these typically non-hotbed areas to lacrosse? Overall, I'm very excited to see what the PLL can do for the sport. Thanks for everything you do!

PaulRabil_Official5 karma

Thanks for the note. We studied a number of other team and individual sports to understand what led to mass growth at the participatory and viewership level. Our case studies showed that a viable, growth-led professional league is what's sparked exponential growth.

We're hoping to do just that with the PLL.

CookieCutter5014 karma

Big fan of the Suiting Up Podcast and I gotta ask, who is someone you would like to have as a guest on the show? And, what would you maybe pick their brain about?

PaulRabil_Official13 karma

Love this. My dream guests (in no particular order):

  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. Dwayne Johnson
  3. Jeff Bezos
  4. Magic Johnson

I would dig into their soft skills. I love learning about intellectual processes of talented people like these.

Laurasaur284 karma

Hi Paul, I've always been a big fan and enjoyed watching you compete in the 2008 MLL All-Star game in Denver!

I'm interested to know what the PLL is going to do in terms of including women. Leadership roles, marketing, etc.?

Best of luck to you! Really looking forward to seeing the PLL kick some ass!

PaulRabil_Official7 karma

Thanks for the question. We care deeply about making the PLL inclusive -- and that means across gender, race, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation. Data shows that a workplace that's inclusive will always yield better decision making, and results. As we continue to build and hire, this is how we're earmarking our approach.

Additionally, we want to get out in front of the lacrosse stereotypes that have developed over the last 15 years and get back to our roots in culture and diversity. Lacrosse is the older sport in N. America -- founded and created by the Native Americans. Markets like Baltimore, LA, and NYC continue to diversify in a participation base that mirrors equal participants from Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. We'll be actively investing in these areas.

Thanks for bringing this up -- it's important to us.

Reg_Hartner3 karma

Paul. Have you talked to Dave Morrow about the PLL? With him being the co-founder or MLL and your current sponsor Warrior it has to be a conflict of business interests. Do you see this breaking your relationship with Warrior and Dave now seeing you as a competitor?

PaulRabil_Official7 karma

Hey Reg, of course I've spoken with Dave Morrow, the Warrior, and New Balance team about the PLL. As a sponsored athlete for over 5 years, our goal has been to share our stories, products, and innovations around growing the game at the professional level. This is not a conflict of interest.

ianisms102 karma

Hello,

Probably not for the first season, but would you consider in the future bringing the PLL abroad to try and grow the game in other countries? Also, if expansion were a possibility, do you think promotion and relegation would work to make sure fans are always seeing the best players?

PaulRabil_Official3 karma

Absolutely! What excites us about a tour-based approach is the opportunity to explore international growth (much like the NBA and NFL does now).

Lacrosse continues to grow internationally, now approaching 60 nationally sanctioned and governed countries eligible to compete in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL). Amazing.

everydayhebro2 karma

Hey PR - with leagues endorsing sportsbooks and the proliferation of sports gambling currently happening in the space, are there any plans to forge partnerships with the likes of William Hill, MGM, or DraftKings?

PaulRabil_Official5 karma

Great comment -- and yes, we're having partnership conversations already. Data screams out that having a fantasy and gambling component in pro sports drives viewership. But to get these opportunities over the goal line, you need to have a great data and statistics team. That has to be your foundation. We're solving for that, and much more.

airij232 karma

I heard "Player Equity" in a lot of the press. Can you give some details and what that looks like?

PaulRabil_Official4 karma

Great question. Player equity means shares in the business. We're a single entity organization, and much like a Silicon Valley tech startup gives it's early stage employees equity, so do we. Our players are everything -- we go as they go.

DMLPro852 karma

PR -- Anchorman or Old School?!

PaulRabil_Official3 karma

These are two of my all-time favorite comedies. I'll lean towards Anchorman...and I'd love to get Will Ferrell on my podcast one day!

Anion-Sports1 karma

Hey Paul, thanks for the opportunity, I was wondering: Are there media opportunities for journalists to cover the events?

PaulRabil_Official3 karma

Thanks for the note. Absolutely! Sports journalists make any sport go. Please send us your information through the CAREER portal on premierlacrosseleague.com.

ccarsonberry1 karma

What tips, tricks, advice, etc. would you give to someone just starting to play lacrosse?

PaulRabil_Official4 karma

Practice.

And make sure you're having fun.

Fun practice leads to the best and fastest results. Good luck!

russlax241 karma

Hey Paul what do you think of upcoming the competitors like yourself in the XFL league?

PaulRabil_Official3 karma

The XFL is a spring sport. What they're doing is exciting, and we're on the sideline watching and learning.

We made sure our schedule fit best for lacrosse -- especially with the NCAA and NLL season. For this reason, as well as a great programming opportunity with NBC, we decided to play from June 1 - September 21, 2019.