Sometimes a solution is so obvious that it's not obvious at all. That appears to be the case in the "How do we make the WNBA popular?" conundrum. Is the NBA not advertising the WNBA enough? Uhm, no. I, Evil Ted, am very aware of the existence of the WNBA and have seen tons of TV ads for it, such as:
You could play these ads during every commercial break on every TV show on every channel. You could play them during the Super Bowl. You could tattoo the WNBA logo on Janet Jackson's boob during the halftime show. You could put it on the backstop greenscreen during the last out of the World Series. Hell, you could even paste the face of every female pro basketball player on the hood of every car in Nascar. But people aren't going to watch women's basketball unless there's an angle. And that angle will NEVER be that they play with the same skill and athleticism as men. It just won't. And I'm not being sexist here, or saying that there aren't plenty of women who could thoroughly kick my ass in a game of one-on-one. This is pure branding I'm talking about.
The solution revealed itself like a devine intervention during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and it's so obvious, it's almost silly. Did anyone happen to come across the U.S. women's basketball team playing Australia? Well, I did. And gosh darn it if I didn't find myself glued to the telly. Why? because the Australian Women's Olympic team was dressed like this:
I give you...drumroll please...the Australian Opals. Are they the best women's basketball team on Earth? I don't know...and I don't care either. But I'll tell you what, if they're playing on TV in those uniforms, I'll watch them. And if I watch them play, it's inevitable that I'll learn more about them. And if I learn more about them, I might - just might - become a fan.
Frankly, I don’t understand why this hasn’t already been done. I mean, sure, there’s a level of implied sexism. The idea of “Hey, put on this tight outfit and maybe we’ll watch” might be considered a little tawdry. But if those involved in the WNBA are really willing to do anything to expand their fan base, how can they not explore this option? Is it such a big deal to change the uniforms to something more flattering of the female form? And who decided women basketball players need to dress like the men anyway? I think the current outfits make the women look like…well…men. So now you've got players who look like men, but don't play as well as men. This not only puts off potential male fans, but might even be anathema to young girls, many of whom want to be princesses and ballerinas when they grow up.
That's right. I said anathema. Deal with it.
There are certainly ways to spin the change – but a press release stating that “the new outfits are more streamlined, making players more aerodynamic, and the tight fabric eliminates shirt-grabbing fouls” would be comedic and needless. So don’t bother coming up with any reasoning at all, WNBA. Just do it, as Nike would say. The uniforms are tasteful enough to keep from offending the average female fan, but provocative enough to entice the average man. At least give a guy a reason to start watching, and that may be enough to improve the league’s popularity by default.
Here's a taste of how women's basketball should look. And with high definition - the greatest invention on Earth - I can guarantee you'll be watching, gents.