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Jessica Berman wants to earn players’ trust as NWSL commissioner

Jessica Coverman, NWSL’s new commissioner, has wanted to work in sports since he was 16 years old. At a New York Islanders match, Berman, sitting next to a person in a suit and a person in jeans and a baseball cap, sees a crowd erupting and fans hugging the Islanders goal. rice field.

Following the game, she asked the two if they knew each other. They didn’t.

“The only thing that tied them together at that moment was their love for the islanders, and I decided I had to work in sports,” Berman said Wednesday in his referral with the NWSL. I said at the press conference. “It was a moment when I decided that sports had a unique platform among other cultural elements. At this moment, women’s sports are probably better than any other sport. think.”

When Berman joins five-month interim CEO Marlameshing and begins a new role on April 20, she plans to foster the same level of unity she saw in the Islanders match that day. increase. Her top priority is to build a strong relationship between the league and the NWSL Players Association.A year after having multiple coaches Dismissed in allegations of abuseOwner controversy Pulled out publicly For months, players have criticized the NWSL front office for lack of transparency under former commissioner Lisa Baird, Berman knows there’s a lot to do to regain the trust of players.

“I like to think that everyone has a superpower,” she said. “I believe my superpower is trying to build consensus, actually listen, learn, and understand the perspectives of different people.

“I really want to understand and learn the context of what underlies these challenges, and then work to find solutions. By working with all stakeholders, we almost do what. But I believe we can fight. “

Former NHL executives said they weren’t afraid to boost NWSL owners and confront what players wanted.In fact, she believes her way of thinking is the reason She landed her jobBecause the player played an important role in the search and recruitment process.

“Consensus building does not mean that everyone always gets what they want. It understands the context and rationale for why we need to make certain decisions. That means, “Berman said.

Berman learned how to overcome adversity during his 13 years at the NHL and two and a half years as Deputy Commissioner and Executive Vice President of Business for the National Lacrosse League. Prior to joining the NLL, he was at the forefront of communication between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Governors’ Association. She believes this experience has prepared her for the next challenge.

“That’s the job of the commissioner. It’s about getting the team to really understand and the board to really understand the broader context of the reasons and methods of decision making,” she said.

Berman has a four-year term as a commissioner, but has no urgent issues such as collective bargaining agreements or NWSLPA and is currently working to build relationships of trust with players. Ratified on January 31st..

Similar to what happens every Tuesday at 10 am in the National Lacrosse League, Berman sets up a standard meeting where NWSLPA representatives can raise questions and questions. She and NWSLPA Executive Director Meghann Burke have already arranged weekly calls.

“These, in my experience, build trust,” Berman said. “That doesn’t mean we can always agree. It doesn’t mean that we can always reach a solution, but we have an open and transparent discussion. We are professional and respectful.”

If the discussion requires a neutral arbitrator, Berman will do it. Whatever NWSL and the Players Association need to maintain a relationship.

When asked about the relationship between the league and the Black Women’s Players Group (BWPC), Berman, a non-profit organization created by NWSL’s black players to promote opportunities for black girls in sports, has her personal background. Mentioned. She grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, and caused Berman’s “attachment” by breaking her barriers and recognizing her privileges.

“This is an area of ​​interest to me and I always want to learn. Be sure to get information from experts in your area,” she told BWPC Director Midge Purchase on Tuesday. did. alliance.

The Players Commissioner Search Committee included Burke, Crystal Dan, Kaley Collins, Jane Campbell, Briana Visari, Nicole Burnhart, Emily Menguez, and Truffle Star. They were empowered to make decisions about candidates, but their opinions were taken into account.

“Take off the union for a request [involvement] And to the Governor’s Association who agreed to make them part of the process and sit at the table, “Berman said.

She met with PA player representatives during two separate calls: one with the East group and one with the West group. Those conversations gave her a better understanding of what their expectations are and how they imagine working together.

“It actually helped me feel confident in that position,” she said.

After answering a question that Berman said was thoughtful, attractive and passionate, she had the opportunity to ask her own question, how players believe that the league can move forward, and they do it. It happens that I was able to dig into the way I want to see.

“I appreciate the huge amount of work in front of me,” she said. “I will only do it if I feel that the league has the tools and skills to move forward and support it for success.”

Jessa Braun is a contributor to Just Women’s Sports, which covers NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on her Twitter @jessabraun..

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Written by Fem Society

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