Paris Wallace saw an opportunity and he went for it. Now, he’s making history with the first majority women- and minority-owned cycling league alongside his co-founder David Mulugheta.
“I saw an opportunity to reinvent the sport I love; to bring the passion and excitement of cycling to the next generation of fans,” said Wallace, the co-founder and CEO of the National Cycling League, according to the league’s website. “I wanted to reduce the knowledge barrier of becoming a fan by adding a scoreboard and creating a league structure that mimics most other professional sports. I also wanted to reduce the time investment by making it shorter, faster, and more action-packed. And that is how the NCL was born.”
Now, the National Cycling League (NCL), which was founded in 2022, will be officially making its mark with its 2023 NCL Cup, which is a series of four races with a prize pool set at $1 million.
Ten professional cycling teams will be gearing up in preparation for the inaugural cup race that will begin in Miami Beach, FL, on April 8 while the last race will conclude on Sept. 17 in Washington D.C., per the league’s website. Other stops include Atlanta, GA, and Denver, CO.
The racing event operates on a system that allows equal contribution from men and women teammates. Additionally, team points are earned every lap, and the points earned are tracked on a scoreboard.
To tune in, you can watch the races in person, for free, or via live streaming globally. You can also immerse themselves in the action by riding along in the metaverse. These thrilling races are set on “iconic” city streets, making for an unforgettable experience for the racers and the spectators.
Through these races and the league, overall, the goal is to diversify the sector. While there’s an increasing number of Black and brown cyclists globally, they are not yet heavily represented professionally.
“There are millions of a Black and brown cyclists around the world. In fact, they are the fastest growing group of cyclists in the US,” Wallace told AfroTech in an email interview. “We plan to give these cyclists an opportunity to consider a professional career path in cycling and give them a sport to be proud of and to root for.”
As a part of their mission, the NCL will also work to bridge the gender pay gap between men and women that’s plaguing various sports today.
“We believe if you value women’s contributions equally and pay women equally, fans will treat men and women athletes equally,” Wallace said. “It’s long overdue, and we’re proud to be paving the way here towards an equitable future.”
As they pave the way, their efforts have already attracted the attention of professional athletes like Miami Dolphins’ Jalen Ramsey and Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, who decided to hop on board.
According to Crunchbase, in December 2022, the league announced the raise of a $7.5 million seed round
“These professional athletes understand ownership versus employment and are excited to be part of owning a new league,” Wallace explained. “They are incredibly sophisticated and see this as an opportunity to grow this league from the ground up into something they can be proud of and support while generating a return.”
As for what to expect in the future, Wallace says it will be “an exciting new sport designed around values that matter to a younger generation with owners that look like them and an action-packed spectacle that captures their attention and imagination.”