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How Players Associations Leverage Collective Power: NFLPA Chief Operating Officer Teri Smith

With more than 60 years of experience advocating for players, the NFLPA (NFL Players Association) has laid the groundwork so younger players associations, like the PTPA, can follow their journey to success. As part of this collaboration with fellow players associations, the PTPA has hosted a series of conversations with leaders across sports to further demonstrate professional athletes’ need for strong, autonomous player representation.  

In this series’ latest installment, the PTPA sat down with Teri Smith, the NFLPA’s Chief Operating Officer, to talk about the importance of empowering players, giving back to the community, and more. Watch the full conversation below.

How Players Associations Foster Community Engagement

As a core leader at the NFLPA, Teri understands what players associations need to do to make an impact. 

“At the Players Association, we concentrate a lot on the community,” she noted. Similarly, as the PTPA expands its efforts, creating new resources and opportunities for the professional tennis player community at large – including players’ teams, loved ones and local communities – will play an important role in fostering wider community engagement.

Why Players Associations Must Continuously Evolve

“The power in the union comes from the collective.” -Teri Smith

The NFLPA has worked with its players for decades to learn how to best represent their needs, with an understanding that players’ needs are always evolving. As sports landscapes change and new challenges arise, PAs like the NFLPA and the PTPA have to continuously adapt to effectively serve their players.

How Player Unity Drives Impact

In football, players have a roster of teammates but compete against the rest of the league week in and week out. In tennis, players compete individually against the rest of the player pool. But in both sports, and across all sports, player unity off the field is what builds collective power and drives positive change. 

Smith explained this by referencing a concept that is central to the NFLPA’s efforts. “The one-team concept is that everybody is on the same team when it comes to getting fair wages, hours, and working conditions and making sure that we leverage our collective power.” 

By advocating for teamwork off the field, players associations like the NFLPA and PTPA encourage player engagement and participation around the issues that matter the most to their athletes. 
For more exclusive interviews, subscribe to the PTPA’s YouTube channel.