Ex-WPS team owner Borislow dies at age 52

Jeff Kassouf July 22, 2014 58
Former owner of WPS team magicJack Dan Borislow died on Monday. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for EqualizerSoccer.com)

Former owner of WPS team magicJack Dan Borislow died on Monday. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for EqualizerSoccer.com)

Dan Borislow, an American entrepreneur and former owner of the magicJack team that played in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2011, died of a heart attack on Monday at age 52.

His death was confirmed by Brad Shewmake, a spokesman for magicJack. Bloomberg reports Borislow’s heart attack occurred after playing in a soccer game in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Borislow purchased the Washington Freedom in the fall of 2010 when the team was on the brink of folding, and moved it from Maryland to Boca Raton, Fla. Had the Freedom folded just weeks after defending champion FC Gold Pride did the same in 2010, the league was unlikely to have continued for a third season with only five other teams.

From the very beginning, Borislow had ideas for making wholesale changes within the league. He signed several top U.S. national team stars to join Abby Wambach, including Christie Rampone, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Shannon Boxx.

He remained close to several U.S. players, flying to Germany for the 2011 World Cup final. Last year he paid for Wambach’s family to fly to New Jersey to watch her score four goals and break Mia Hamm’s all-time scoring record.

Rampone reacted to the news on Tuesday via Twitter:

The team’s short stay in the league under the magicJack identity was controversial, including several fines for failures to meet minimum standard requirements, all of which built up to a legal battle as the league tried to separate itself from the franchise. The team ceased operations in October 2011, but the legal battle continued until it ultimately aided in WPS folding in January 2012.

Current Houston Dash forward Ella Masar was the most outspoken former magicJack player, detailing alleged mistreatment in her time with the team in a January 2012 blog entry.

On the field, magicJack won its opening match of the playoffs before losing to the Philadelphia Independence in the super semifinal that season.

The team was named after Borislow’s company, magicJack, a voice-over-IP company that allowed people to talk on the telephone for free through an internet connection.

Borislow’s first big business break came in 1989, when he founded Tel-Save, which resold access to AT&T long-distance lines. The company eventually landed a major deal with AOL.

Borislow is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two children, Danny and Kylie.

  • Harry Truman

    He destroyed WPS. Somehow I don’t miss him.

    • Pathetic

      FFS, the man was 52 and had two kids. You can wish for other kinds of karma and still be horrified at — or at least have the decency not to be dismissive of — premature death. Try being a human being, not an internet asswipe.

      • MagicJerk

        The guy was pure scum. I’m sure his family will be better off without him.

        • appalled

          The suffering isn’t about HIM. It’s the wife that now has to raise those two children who lost their dad. May your spouse or children have to go through that after you die suddenly …. the world will be better off without YOU in it.

      • Harry Truman

        How do you know it was premature? Try not being a doormat for shysters who exploit young women for personal gain.

        • Lorehead

          Since he never even attempted to balance the books at MagicJack, he was actually abusing them for fun. Also, could we please keep his religion out of it?

      • He didn’t wish for him to die. He just doesn’t care now that he is.

  • JL

    RIP, Mr. Borislow.

  • newsouth

    WOW! Presseroni was a jack. BTW, he use to throw down beer like water at games.

    • Stay Pressed

      Yeah, she was drafted by the Washington Freedom, which became MagicJack, played for them for 1 season, won rookie of the year, and then signed with the Atlanta Beat, where she’d be reunited with Kelley O’Hara.
      Then MagicDan killed the league. The End.

      • Steglitz49

        But, it was not the end because Göteborg took Christen under their wings. There she got to play under a coach who had been a great striker in his day — one of the “Boys of ’82” of blessed memory — and won her only team trophy when Gbg defeated Tyresö to retain the Swedish cup. Christen scored in that game.

        Unfortunately for Gbg, the siren calls and fleshpots of Tyresö proved too powerful …

        • Stay Pressed

          Goteborg failed to qualify for the 2013/14 Champions League, it had very little (/nothing) to do with “siren calls and fleshpots”.

          • Steglitz49

            It would be ironic, though, if the Swedish Cup with Göteborg were to be the only team trophy in Christen’s cabinet.

            (I included the Champions League matter in my fleshpots because Tyresö did not pay her much more but your point is well taken. What caused rancor at the time was they way she jumped ship, not that she chose another berth.)

    • Guest

      what a qt

  • ian

    WPS was an unsutainable mess before he got involved. It’s failure was if rather than when.

    What he did do was foster a poisonous atmosphere in his club where players felt they couldn’t speak out without jeopardising both their careers and the league itself.

    Not only that, but he put their careers at risk by running professional sports team without an athletic trainer and with dubious training practices (and, famously, preventing them from getting crucial medical treatment).

    Essentially he took the fact that people were desperate for women’s soccer to succeed and ran with it as a way of massaging his own ego while treating his players like terribly.

    • Lorehead

      He struck a bargain with the league to save it in exchange for power over a group of young women. Then, he abused that power. Then, when people objected, he destroyed the league.

      • NYRick

        Accurate. Well said, very concisely.

  • Guest

    Can someone give a breakdown for people who weren’t following Magic Jack about what players supported him and who didn’t? What non NT players other than Ella Massar that played for magic jack now play in the NWSL?

    I was under the impression that Pinoe and Solo were signed but never played a game for Borislow. There seems to be this mythical status about the man/team but not a lot of hard information about what went down within the team.

    • newsouth

      Wambach (received a beach front condo and Benz) and Solo supported him.

      Rampone opposed him on twitter.

      Masar and Davis (a Jamacian player) opposed him and were penalized.

      Who plays in the NWSL? Sophie Schmidt, Huffman, Tarplay (injured still), Ellertson, Devanna,

      There are others, but I don’t remember.

      I saw them play in Florida and Georgia (Kenn) when I was in Louisiana for a couple of months.

      • guest

        Wambach bought the beach front condo herself. Get over yourself newsouth.

        • newsouth

          sure. all the players lived in the building he owned. it don’t matter now, so get a grip.

          • guest

            you made it sound like he GAVE her those. Yes, a lot of the team stayed in great accommodations while there. I imagine Abby and Huffy were as close to him as a woman’s soccer play could get.

          • guest2

            Don’t you know newsouth has the biggest hate-boner for abby? Everything she does is the work of the devil according to him.

          • newsouth

            i was a magicjack supporter. the bigsoccer members who frequent this board can vouch for it. in fact, i was called out many times for being a fan of magicdan.

          • guest

            everything suddenly makes sense. thank you for that.

      • Guest

        Thanks for the info. I feel bad for the players that were mistreated but it was also very naive for people to think that someone with his reputation wasn’t power hungry. That said the NT members should not have supported him.

        • Guest

          I suggest looking into it elsewhere. Some people have (cough) foggy memories and a quick google search can bring up articles with better info. It was well documented in the media. Even back in this sites archives.

      • Guest

        Solo didn’t support him. Between her shoulder injury and the WC she missed all of the shenanigans. Players who were against him even said she was never around when asked about her involvement. She only came back once to Florida after pressure from everyone that she wasn’t doing enough for the team and league while rehabbing .Then in the spring when the super team was rumored with her name on the list she went out of her way to say she wasn’t playing for him. That was the last even rumored connection. No family jets, beach house ,nothing.

        Meanwhile there is a long list of NT players who were there during that time who seemed to be ok with everything going on. Just look at the roster. Zero NT players who were there for it all spoke up. End of story.

        • lolz

          In my humble opinion, abby and the rest of the nters who believed in him, truly thought Borislow was going to be the savior of wps and were willing to follow him wherever, as long as he kept funding the team. Given how often investors who say they “support” woso pull out at the first sign of issues, I don’t blame them for wanting to be loyal to someone they believed was being loyal to them. I do blame them for not walking away when the situation gotten increasingly creepy and unstable which anyone who wasn’t blind would have seen.

        • truthsquad

          According to the article by espy, Solo as well as other NT players still retained their MagicJack sponsorships even after the fiasco. She even called out Masar and said she needed a thicker skin.

          • Guest

            She said that in women’s sports you have to deal with a lot of people just like him hence the thicker skin and that on the subject of health insurance female athletes in particular need to insist on coverage as the lack of professionalism in leagues effects them the most. She is pragmatic.

          • NYRick

            She’s pragmatic alright. This is the same person who caused a team revolt at WC07 and was sent home over another player starting ahead of her. If she was in Mazur’s position on that team, she would have been singing a different tune about her “thick skin.”

          • guest

            Oh please rick. You try earning your starting spot for three years and than get told the night before your being benched for a player who hadn’t played a competitive game in 6 months. You wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows either.

          • NYRick

            Hey, I’m agreeing with you on the fact that Hope SHOULD have been starting at WC07. That was a travesty and wrong. I was just replying about her being “pragmatic.” She doesn’t always handle things the right way all the time as we know.

          • Guest

            You really think that players would get their agents and a lawyer to deal with breaking a contract with a guy who had the league by the balls in the courts at the same time? The same players who either had no problems with him they verbalized or had since then learned to stay quiet moved on? Not likely.

          • truthsquad

            You really think that NT players like solo and wambach did not enjoy the extravagance, attention, and over the top praise heaped on them by barislow? Players who have massive egos to begin with? Very likely.

          • NYRick

            Of course they did. That is why they stayed with it so long, and as one poster below, lolz, aptly puts it, “when things got creepy.”

    • Elaine

      Maybe now that the man has passed and Magicjack is a distant memory, someone will chronicle the story and write a book about it.

      • Steglitz49

        Who would buy it?

  • Guest

    The man just passed away. I dint like the guy either, but can we hold off on slamming him for the time being?

    • guest

      Of course not because that’s the only thing people on this website know how to do.

    • Harry Truman

      I’ve never understood reverence for the dead. They don’t care what we think. They don’t run our lives any more. Death does not turn an SOB into an angel.

      • Steglitz49

        “Of the dead, nothing unless good.” — is the maxim you are looking for. Your names-sake would have approved.

  • mskillens

    Karma is a ….

    • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

      A guy dying of a massive heart attack in their 50’s while doing a strenuous activity doesn’t really fit the definition of karma.

      • MagicJerk

        Sounds like karma to me……

      • I don’t think in order to believe in karma the action to achieve said karma has to fit inside any parameter. All that is needed is a perceived good or bad previous action.

  • FawcettFan14

    The death of any person should be met with politeness and decency, for the sake of their surviving loved ones. This is especially true for those who die prematurely, like Dan Borislow. How awful this must be for his children. I am sorry for them.

    Human decency, however, doesn’t mean one’s legacy should be whitewashed. Borislow rode in on a white horse, claiming to save WPS with his largesse. But in reality it was a fun pet experiment for himself and his own amusement/ego. It was not for the betterment of women’s soccer. He displayed contempt for the league brass, refusing to comply with minimum standards on field size, a front office, cameras, and player interaction with media. He manipulated his players, favoring some, disparaging others, using his wealth to shower perks while also intimidating anyone who spoke out. He interfered with the coaching staff. He failed to provide basic necessities of any professional athletic team, like a trainer. He lambasted the pittance most female soccer players earn, without acknowledging the financial constraints everyone else lived under.

    It’s also unfair to place all blame for the league’s folding on Borislow. WPS’s expenses, much like the WUSA before it, were far too high to be sustainable. The league was a sinking ship, one that Borislow patched up momentarily, allowing it to finish the 2011 season. Because of his clownish (at time disturbing) behavior, he became a popular lightning rod for people who need someone unsympathetic to blame. But WPS was never going to work long-term.

    • Sydonia

      It was his massive litigation against WPS that tipped the cart over, but the wheels were a little wobbly to begin with.

    • NYRick

      Good post, well written. I’ve read much of the past stuff on magicjack and I think the problem (and I’m just guessing here) with the situation is not so much Borislow himself. There are plenty of rich jerks with power who abuse both men and women for sport. But more with the NTers on that magicjack team and how they didn’t stand up for their teammates. They were treated like the Belles of the Ball and all was just fine with them while “Just call me Daddy” lavished them with praise and the trappings of wealth.

      As many who know me on here, I’m not a big Abby fan, and much of it stems from what I read about her magicjack timeframe. I don’t care one way or another, but the record and writings on the subject are out there for all to read.

      • dw

        You know Abby, she’s always going to back that guy…

  • guest
  • JAMES 18

    I guess Mary got a funeral to go to.

    • Lorehead

      My condolences to his family.

  • Yale Lewis

    I won’t miss him and his abusive behavior to the players ,thinking league rules applyed to all but him , his unprofessional conduct at games and with his team and his power hungry ego. He thought he could buy everything and every one , and make his own rules up as he went along, I hope there is never another owner like him. The league dersers better the players deserve better and the fans deserve better.

  • dw

    Strange. I just saw him in the news. He had hit the Jackpot Pick 6 at Gulfstream for over $6 million, on the day before the mandatory payout, when people were expecting a record pool. And now, gone.

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