The Premier Lacrosse League partners with the One Love Foundation to bring awareness to the issue of abuse and promote healthy relationships.
In its first nine months, the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) has announced numerous partnerships including those with NBC, Adidas and IMG Academy. Yet none may be more important than their recent partnership with the One Love Foundation.
Forming a foundation following a tragedy
The One Love Foundation was founded to educate young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships and aims to aid them in identifying and avoiding abusive relationships.
The foundation was started in honor of University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was tragically killed by her ex-boyfriend on May 3, 2010. Love was just three weeks away from graduating and starting a new job in Manhattan.
“I remember hearing it on the national news and the first thing you think about is how a young person lost her life,” Kyle Hartzell, defenseman for the PLL Atlas, said. “She was in college, she had her whole life ahead of her and that was taken away from her. You really feel for the family. Who knows what could’ve been done to stop it.”
After the trial, the Love family felt strongly that Yeardley Love’s tragedy could’ve been avoided had she or those in her life recognized the signs and had the tools to deal with what had grown to be a very dangerous and unhealthy relationship.
So, they decided to start the One Love Foundation so they could prevent similar tragedies from happening to other families. After starting the foundation, the family quickly discovered how great the need for education on relationship abuse was.
“The Love family noticed that the issue was often discussed in the context of domestic abuse and situations of relationship abuse outside a domestic environment, such as Yeardley’s was, were not being discussed enough,” Managing Director of Partnerships and Policy at The One Love Foundation Lela Agnew said. “Young women, in particular, ages 16-24, are most likely to be in a physically abusive relationship yet don’t often see themselves as part of the domestic violence world.”
So the One Love Foundation promptly started offering film-based workshops with peer-to-peer discussions to colleges. What the foundation quickly discovered is there was a need at an even younger level and they eventually began providing education to high schools and even middle schools as well.
“Over one in three women and nearly one in four men will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. Whether it’s emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or even financial abuse, there are many ways to fall into an unhealthy relationship,” Agnew said. “Yet, the resounding response was ‘this information is critical and no one has had this conversation with us.’”
Partnering to bring awareness
Since its founding in 2010, One Love has produced a variety of resources on relationship health, hosted in-person workshops for more than 625,000 people, and reached more than 100 million more online. It has partnered with more than 1,000 partners in middle schools, high schools and colleges and continues to branch out and provide training to the organizations such as the U.S. military, Bank of America, the NFL and now the PLL.
“It’s extremely important for us to address this issue,” PLL Chief Executive Officer Mike Rabil said. “In recent years some leagues have decided to engage with the topic while others have remained silent. We want our players and staff to understand the importance of healthy relationships and the qualities and traits that make for a healthy domestic atmosphere.”
“To have the support of PLL is so incredibly important and to reach the lacrosse community on a national scale helps in our efforts to end relationship abuse,” Chief Executive Officer of The One Love Foundation Katie Hood said.
The first partnership event between the PLL and The One Love Foundation will occur on May 3, the ninth anniversary of Love’s death and annual One Love Giving Day. On One Love Giving Day, the PLL players, as well as other athletes and individuals, will be encouraged to post a photo or video holding up a number one or writing the number “1” on your hand to raise money and awareness to the issue of relationship abuse.
“The PLL has been extraordinary to work with because they wanted to jump in right away,” Agnew said. “The fact that the PLL and their players can give back to the community by talking about it over social media why they believe education on relationship abuse is important.”
“With [Yeardley] being a lacrosse player, the lacrosse community came together after her death. I think with the PLL’s platform and NBC deal we have, we have a big magnifying glass that we can use to shine light on this issue,” Hartzell added.
"“Domestic violence has occurred across all sports. By creating awareness of the issue, we can help ensure if someone is put in that situation it is easier to bring it up and talk about it. The more people you can educate, the more likely you are to save the life of somebody.”"
Addressing the issue within the sports community
With the topic of domestic violence and abuse often surfacing in sports media for all the wrong reasons, Agnew discussed how refreshing it is to have a sports league tackle the issue head-on and in a positive way.
“If you study the research on domestic and relationship abuse within the entire athletic community at large, whether it’s professional, college or high school, it is a really scary statistic,” Agnew said. “So the fact that they’re taking a leadership role and addressing this is really exciting and even more exciting is they’re doing it in the name of Yeardley.”
In addition to supporting The One Love Foundation on Giving Day, the PLL will also provide the cause visibility at their opening weekend in Foxborough, Mass., as well as throughout its season-long tour this summer.
Furthermore, the PLL have members of The One Love team curate workshops throughout its training camp at IMG Academy in May. While there, every incoming player and coach will be educated on the foundation’s values and be educated on the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
“The PLL is the first professional league to ask us to educate the entire league’s coaches and players. It is an extraordinary effort and commitment on their part,” Agnew said.
"“It is so critical for young people to see athletes embracing this issue. This is a huge commitment. This is time they could be lifting weights or studying nutrition, but the PLL’s founders and organizers made relationship health, relationship abuse prevention and mentoring young people a number one priority. We cannot express how important that is.”"
Agnew hopes that other leagues will follow the PLL’s example and begin to adopt comprehensive training for their athletes.
“The One Love Foundation is a prevention organization. We are focused on love. It’s not about pointing fingers at who’s bad and who’s good; it’s all about love and healthy relationships,” Agnew said. “And by doing so, we hope to help people recognize and overcome relationship abuse so they can live life to the fullest.”
To learn more about The One Love Foundation and Giving Day, visit the website joinonelove.org.