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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, 18:57.

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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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