The National Women’s Soccer League is brought sports back, and it brought CBD with them.

This year ,the NWSL announced it had finalized plans to begin competition on June 27, putting it on pace to be America’s first top-flight league back in action. The league’s nine teams gathered in Utah and played a monthlong tournament, without fans in attendance, rather than their traditional season. The facilities the teams shared belonged to Utah Royals FC, which earlier this year entered into a sponsorship agreement with Mendi, a CBD company based out of Portland.

Mendi’s connection to women’s soccer runs a lot deeper than that, though. One of the company’s founders is Rachael Rapinoe, whose twin sister Megan finds time to be involved in the business when she’s not doing things like leading the United States to World Cup wins or raking in various “of the year” honors.

The company also sponsors the North Carolina Courage, the two-time defending NWSL champions. But the Portland-based CBD company doesn’t sponsor Portland’s team, the Thorns. They’re sponsored by a different Portland-based CBD company, Social CBD. You’ll see that brand’s name across the chest of the team’s warm-up gear during practices, before games and all over social media.

Leagues across America have been slowly opening up to CBD, and cannabis in general, but it’s the NWSL that is leading the way.

Sports should be an obvious fit for CBD, and not just as a marketing tool. CBD’s pain and inflammation relieving qualities make it a great tool for athletes who are recovering from injury or warding off post-workout soreness. They also make great partners in the push to normalize cannabis.

In April, the Courage held a giveaway on social media. Along with usual prizes like an autographed jersey and tickets to a game, the lucky winner also took home a haul of CBD. Yep, professional sports teams are now comfortable handing out cannabis products. Then there’s the Thorns, who, before coronavirus, were planning to trot onto the pitch in front of their 20,000-plus fans, while happily wearing a CBD brand on their clothes.

Those fans won’t be in the stadium any time soon, but when the NWSL returns to the airwaves, plenty of people will be seeing CBD in a space they never have before. ♦

The original print version of this article was headlined “Cannabidiol FC”