There is a very good documentary movie on Netflix or Prime video about the NPF called “Burn the Ships” which focuses on the league in general but also on the Akron Racers in detail.
It’s a very well done movie that takes a very good look at the state of our sport at the professional level. There are a bunch of very strong stories about the people who love this game and are willing to make sacrifices to keep playing it after they finish up their collegiate careers.
We all know that there is a huge gap between what male professional athletes make and what female athletes make in almost all sports. Of course, there are exceptions like Serena Williams, but when we look at team sports there really is no comparison. Even with the women’s national teams in hockey and soccer there is a never ending fight for equal pay and equal treatment even when the women’s teams are by far more successful than their male counterparts.
We all hoped that the NPF would grow into a real professional opportunity for softball players to make real money playing this great game. Unfortunately, as we hear in the movie, the salaries earned by NPF players is much more of a part time job than a real career.
And there is more bad news. Two of the most financially established professional teams, USSSA Pride and Scrapyard Dawgs , have split away from the NPF and are basically planning on running a Globetrotters style barnstorming schedule where they will work together to take professional softball on the road. They will play at the big tournaments around the country and basically take their product to the consumer where the consumer already is.
The barnstorming idea is a great one for those two teams but is not good news for the NPF.
Losing two of the most well funded teams = bad news. Competition for the fans that are already in short supply = bad news. Siphoning many of the biggest names out of the league and onto these two rosters = bad news. Two “All Star” teams playing outside the of the NPF which is fighting like crazy to grow and thrive? Not good.
Why we seem to always be at a crossroads about the future of professional softball is a difficult question to answer. The producers of “Burn the Ships” make a good run at the question. Unfortunately, we still don’t have an answer.