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Why Athletes Need Players Associations: MLSPA Player Rep Russell Canouse

While the PTPA is a young organization, players associations have existed in many other major sports for decades, advocating for players’ rights and fundamentally improving the professional athlete experience. To better understand the role of players associations and the positive impact they can drive for athletes, the PTPA has hosted a series of conversations with players associations across other sports.  

In the latest installment, the PTPA sat down with Russell Canouse, midfielder for D.C. United and a player representative for the Major League Soccer Players Association. Watch the full conversation below. 

Types of Improvements PAs Can Drive

Russell shared examples of how the MLSPA has helped improve the MLS player experience since he joined the league and touched on how player unity is imperative for driving positive change.

How PAs Support Athletes’ Post-Playing Careers

While players associations play a crucial role in supporting athletes when they’re in the midst of their professional careers, PAs can also support athletes as they prepare to retire and transition into their post-playing lives and careers. 

“A huge piece of the players association is that career development. As a player, when you retire, it’s very difficult to find your footing. Having players feel the support from the PA for their post-career jobs is super important.”

#1 Piece of Advice for Tennis Players

What’s the #1 piece of advice Russell would give to tennis players as they fight for their rights and push to grow their first-ever players association? 

“Take initiative. When you take initiative as a player and the next person does it and the next person does it, it’s a domino effect. That will continue to grow the PA and continue to move the sport forward.”

For more exclusive interviews, subscribe to the PTPA’s YouTube channel.