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    WNBA

    laverte raised a number of terrific questions on a different thread, which made me realise that the league deserves one of its own.

    i hadn't realised the WNBA was paying its players that much. i've mostly seen comments online about how the WNBA is destined to fail, but it seems to be defying those predictions. Maybe it's been discussed on the NBA thread but i'm intrigued to know how it's staying afloat. Is it tv money? Are the arenas full? How is it doing in terms of media exposure, and what type of sports fan do you think is following it and supporting it? It's a bit off-topic for this thread, i suppose, except that the WNBA seems the most likely big sports organisation to back and promote a trans player. i gather it doesn't have an official policy on the matter yet, but i'd anticipate the players will be supportive when the need arises. They seem pretty woke.

    #2
    The WNBA has indeed been proving people wrong for several years.

    While it may well be that the single largest factor in its initial staying power is the fact that many of the teams shared ownership with NBA teams, it is at least equally significant that several of the most successful franchises (e.g. Seattle) are now (or always were) independent.

    Attendance is down this season, but crowds of 7,000 on average aren't chopped liver, particularly when one takes into account that the tire fire that is the New York franchise is largely responsible for the decline (the Liberty no longer play in the city).

    The voracious need for content on the part of US sports networks has helped, as has the fact that a number of NBA stars have drawn attention to the league's quality. The advent of women assistant coaches in the NBA (to the point where Becky Hammon is now considered a genuine contender for a head coaching job) also has helped.

    The fanbase is by no means monolithic, but I think it is here to stay (as is the NWSL).

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      #3
      I'm no expert, but isn't the strength of womens college basketball also linked? Particularly at places like UConn who don't have a great history in other sports, so alumni end up wanting to follow the athletes that they saw in college moving on into the professional game and the WNBA is the only place for that?

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        #4
        Thanks ursus. All very interesting. What happened with the Liberty?

        The WNBA does seem to have managed to create star players, in whom fans can invest. And perhaps basketball is an ideal sport for brief, spectacular feats of individual skill, which can make their way into gifs and go viral. i don't follow either the WNBA or the NBA especially but i know who the top stars are from seeing their wow moments on social media.

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          #5
          Yes, I should have mentioned college basketball, but I wasn't trying to be comprehensive.

          The Liberty were at once a marquee franchise for the league and one doomed from their inception. Their curse was to be owned by the same idiot who inherited Madison Square Garden and with it the Knicks (basketball), Rangers (ice hockey) and their television network. Even among the awful excuses for human beings who own US pro sports franchises, Jimmy Dolan is widely considered to be the worst, in part because he combines a repulsive personality with off the charts incompetence.

          Dolan decided that he didn't want to keep the Liberty, in part because he didn't like the significant part of their fanbase who were out and proud lesbians. That was as commercially intelligent as the Metropolitan Opera or the Broadway Theatre deciding that they had to eliminate their gay male clientele.

          Dolan sold the team to someone with much less money who essentially views it as an aspirational entertainment for well to do families with daughters who play sports. In order to make the team more accessible to that demographic and to reduce costs, the team was moved to a small area in Westchester County that also hosts the Knicks' farm team.
          Last edited by ursus arctos; 08-03-2019, 17:57.

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            #6
            Ha ha. Dolan sounds like a treat.

            [reads his wikipedia entry] Ah he's the one who hired a guy accused of sexual harassment to coach his WNBA team. i had a hard time imagining that any owner could be worse than Sterling or Snyder or Loria, but color me persuaded!

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              #7
              And you've never heard his "band" . . .

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                #8
                Compared to other women's sports - or even many men's sports - the WNBA and women's basketball in general is doing extremely well. Compared to the NBA, it's barely scraping by, and so many fans and the media compare it to the NBA so that creates a narrative of anxiety and lacking-something that it doesn't really deserve.

                7,000-8,000 a game feels may be the ceiling for the foreseeable future. Women's basketball doesn't seem to have mojo in the culture overall that it did 20 years ago, partly because other women's sports have grown in relative popularity, and partly because so many fans, rightly or wrongly, just think it's way less entertaining than men's basketball. (I happen to think they're both pretty boring) It's probably sustainable but unlikely to ever produce transcendent international superstars like Venus Williams.


                DC also has a relatively new smallish facility that hosts the Wizards G-League team and the Mystics, but it's still in the city. I can see that maybe MSG wasn't ideal if they're not going to ever fill it, but moving to the suburbs is not good for the game. Certainly not for basketball.

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                  #9
                  Our CEO's daughter plays for Bucknell. They're on ESPN2 on Friday vs FL State. I think she wears number 24.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by ursus arctos View Post
                    Even among the awful excuses for human beings who own US pro sports franchises, Jimmy Dolan is widely considered to be the worst
                    Kelly Loeffler says hi.

                    Loeffler is the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream franchise, and i believe sits in congress where she has voted with Trump on everything. She recently said some Fox News-y stuff about Black Lives Matter, which apart from being wrong and gross, is arguably even less "commercially intelligent" in the WNBA than James Dolan disparaging lesbians.

                    Anyway, it's not just the owners that are doing what they can to piss off the players. The association has joined in by refusing to allow megastar Ella Delle Donne to sit out the 2020 season. EDD applied for an exemption because she has Lyme disease and is immunocompromised. She belongs in the awesome sportswomen's thread: her account is worth a read, and if you combine it with what's been coming out in the US and UK gymnastics scandals, you can see that there's still a huge problem with a refusal to understand or recognise the dangers posed by illness and injury – which doesn't augur well in these Covid-19 Times. Sports are a prime site for reproducing ableist attitudes, and here is evidence that the authorities are incapable of recognising even the most obvious differences between being ill and not being tough or brave enough. i mean, i think every athlete should have a right to sit out a season in the US in the current conditions, but the WNBA ought still to understand why EDD's application was not like other players'.

                    Happyish ending: i gather that her team, the Mystics, is going to pick up her salary for 2020 anyway. As it should: she's the face of the team, perhaps even of the league, and now of disabled people in basketball as well.

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                      #11
                      Loeffler is a Senator, the richest person in the US Congress (net worth of half a billion USD) and recently faced charges of insider trading on the pandemic.

                      She just said that Black Lives Matter

                      is using the pursuit of social justice as an excuse to advocate for Marxist radicalism, tear this country apart & destroy those who believe in the American dream
                      She has also said that anyone who criticizes her position is engaged in cancel culture

                      She's too new to be the worst owner, but she has a strong claim to be the worst person to own a major US sports franchise.

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                        #12
                        She sounds even worse than i realised.

                        What's the attraction of owning a WNBA franchise for such a person? If it's mostly about name recognition and ingratiating herself with Georgia women voters, i don't think she's doing all that brilliantly.

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                          #13
                          It's a good question.

                          She was appointed to the seat by the Governor after the incumbent resigned for health reasons (she is running for a full term this November).

                          She first bought into the team in 2010, and bought control in 2011, so my guess is that she was trying to build her "empowering women" cred and looking for low-cost networking and "image building" opportunities in Atlanta, which she moved to after marrying the CEO of the firm that owns the New York Stock Exchange.

                          She has clearly decided that going full Trump is the only way that she can win the seat, but is rather more comfortable with the tax cuts/deregulation message than the culture wars.

                          There is a reasonable chance that she will lose, though Georgia is Ground Zero for voter suppression.

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                            #14
                            File this under: The US Electoral System Is So Fucked Up Almost Nobody Understands It

                            Loeffler's election is super-weird because it's a special election to replace the retired Senator. This means that the election on November 3rd is probably not the real election. It's really an all-party, all in, massive bundle of the primary, and unless someone wins 50% of the vote it will go to a top-two run-off. That election is going to have a large number of candidates, including the very Trumpy Republican Congressman Doug Collins who will probably have the support of the Trumpiest voters even though Team Trump is technically backing Loeffler.

                            In addition, there will be more than one Democrat on the ballot, and they could possibly split their own vote sufficiently that the run-off might end up being between Loeffler and Collins - the most recent poll had Loeffler and Collins ahead of all other candidates, although "Don't Knows" made up such a large portion that it might not be meaningful.

                            The Democratic line-up includes Joe Lieberman's some Matt, to add to the various bits of chaos.

                            A further spanner in the works of this election is that if it goes to a run-off (which it will unless all but one Democrat withdraws), and Biden wins the Presidential election, there's almost no chance that a Democrat would win the run-off. Democrats tend to turn out much less for non-Presidential races, and the Republican turn out would be very strong to restrict any Democratic gains in the senate.

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                              #15
                              And if you think that none of that figured into the timing of Isakson's resignation, I have a bridge to sell

                              Also, there is no such thing as the "US electoral system". What there is a bewildering assemblage of overlapping and sometime contradictory state and local rules that are subject to great disparity in application.

                              Just today, the GOP majority in Texas has put forth a proposal that would have statewide elections decided by an electoral college-like system using Texas Senate districts (which would guarantee GOP rule while violating long-standing Supreme Court precedent)
                              Last edited by ursus arctos; 16-07-2020, 17:22.

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                                #16
                                I really do not want to share a country - or a planet - with those people.

                                I hope somebody responded point by point to her bullshit about “Marxism” and “the American dream.” These people really are the direct descendants of slaveholders, aren’t they?

                                My understanding is that Loeffler has little influence on the running of the team and no influence with the league and they plan to keep it that way. If she did, I suspect there’d be a wave of “retirements” from the team. The WNBA doesn’t pay anywhere close to enough to put up with that shit.

                                The Delle Donne situation doesn’t make sense. She seems to think that she had to choose between playing and getting paid or sitting out for her health and not getting paid. The bizarre decision to deny her health claim certainly creates that impression, but the club seems to think that was never an issue. She’s injured anyway, so she is rehabbing and may not be fit to play regardless. Perhaps it’s all just an insurance issue.
                                Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 16-07-2020, 20:44.

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                                  #17
                                  Players walk off court during anthem

                                  https://people.com/sports/wnba-playe...tional-anthem/

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                                    #18
                                    Kudos to them.

                                    i know it's People magazine, but it would be nice to at least mention the result of the game, or something that happened during it.

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