Why we stuck with GRID

MATHER WISWALL

Florida Grid League Commissioner

Miami Surge General Manager

[G] Wis Concepts President

In 2014 I gave up everything safe and familiar to me. Financial security, being near family and friends, living in my home city. I gave up the successful marketing company my sister, mom, and myself had spent 6 years building together. I moved to an unfamiliar area, knowing no one. I did it to start a new, high risk company…. A sports team in the brand new sport of GRID. The Miami Surge.

Why? I’ll get to that in a second.

Since that decision was made, it’s been a far from smooth road. We had 3 seasons with that sports team. Those 3 seasons were some of the most impactful periods of time in my life, but came with a ton of adversity, negativity, and anguish.

Think about all of the drama and issues that exist in well established sports. Goodell and “inflate gate” of the NFL for example… or Donald Sterling of the NBA… and that’s only the well publicized, biggest stories. The team sports environment breeds conflict by its very nature. Now take that dynamic and add in the struggles of a typical startup like funding, limited awareness and tons of unknown. This all contributed to a lot of struggle in NPGL which pushed a negative public perception of the League, and the perceived viability of the future of the League and sport. Sounds pretty rough right?

There is more.

“In the first year there was a ton of excitement around the concept of the sport. People with vision got where the sport could go.”

In the first year there was a ton of excitement around the concept of the sport. People with vision got where the sport could go. As a result, many small amateur leagues popped up all over the world. At its height, there was somewhere between 15-20 leagues, and in places like Ireland, Hungary, and Australia. At least a handful of these Leagues had multiple seasons.

It just so happens that a grand total of none of those Leagues exist any more. That is… except one. The Florida Grid League. The one my sister and I started together and just finished our first successful year together. We are going strong and excited about the future.

But the question is why. With all the struggles, roadblocks, and backtracking… trying to get a new sport off the ground, why keep going?

Getting back to why we got involved in the first place. We believed in the concept of the sport right off the bat. Yes, the idea of owning and running a sports team is a sexy one… and did not disappoint… but that’s not the real why. We felt the world was missing this sport. We had talked about a similar concept well before every hearing about the NPGL (then NPFL). Not only that, my sister and I were the perfect fit. Our skill sets, background, interests, and life situations fit perfectly. Literally perfectly. I felt like everything I had done in my life was setting me up for this opportunity. Not only that, the concept Tony Budding came up with was faaaar beyond anything we had ever imagined.

But that’s not enough for us to keep going now. I’m 37 going on my 4th year of living far from family and friends, making less money that I did when I was 25, living simpler than I ever have, and not saving for retirement. I wouldn’t keep doing that, if there was no future. So why.

Through all the aforementioned adversity and uncertainty there was one consistency. As leaders came and went, as twitter trolls talked all the smack on the sport, as the future looked dimmer and dimmer… there was one consistency. The sport is amazing.

“As leaders came and went, as twitter trolls talked all the smack on the sport, as the future looked dimmer and dimmer… there was one consistency. The sport is amazing.

“In 4 years of running GRID events, we’ve literally NEVER had a bad review come in about the experience.”

When you take out allll the other factors. The money, the leadership, the business plan, the logistics. When you review a GRID match, as just a GRID match… there is no question. The sport is fu**ing amazing.

In 4 years of running GRID events, we’ve literally NEVER had a bad review come in about the experience. From Surge matches, to GRID 6, to FGL Season. No bad reviews. Complaints? Yes, but always related to the venue, the weather (we did have a match in the middle of a hurricane once), the refs… but NEVER the sport itself. We’ve got loads of incredibly positive feedback such as “life changing” “the best sporting event I have ever been to” “way better than I ever could have imagined”…. We’ve got people devoted to the sport with us, because they get it too. From spectators, players, staff, volunteers, coaches… everyone that has a meaningful interaction with the sport will almost every time walk away with a grand appreciation for what it is, and looking for the next opportunity to be involved with it.

If you were involved with the NPGL and are reading this, it’s because you fall into that camp. You sacrificed a ton yourself, because you know this to be true.

So it’s that fact alone that keeps us going. There are few things I am sure of in my life, but as sure as I am that the sun will come up tomorrow… GRID, if given the proper opportunity, will deeply impact the world. There. Is. No. Doubt.

Get in touch with me.

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