This isn't (necessarily) meant to be a statement on the relative worth and follow-ability of the WNBA, but this "press clipping" is from Friday's print edition of the Chicago Sun Times. The WNBA Finals section -- if you could even call it that -- was crammed down at the bottom of the page, below things like High School Girls Golf and among various advertisements for happy-ending massage parlors and escort services. Ouch.

Don't tell them I sent you...

This was underscored by a comment Evil Ted made this morning upon his return from a High School Reunion/Guy Trip. "I went into a Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends and there was playoff baseball on three out of the four giant projection screen TVs. The fourth screen was playing a basketball game, and the first thing I noticed was SAN ANTONIO 14, DETROIT 6. I was like "Whoa, what's going on here?" and got a little excited. Then I looked up and saw breasts and long hair tied into buns and thought, "Oh, that's what's going on..."

Oh, and in case you didn't know it -- I'm guessing you probably didn't -- the Detroit Shock swept the San Antonio Silver Stars to win their third WNBA title in six years. There was not a single note about this event in the Chicago Sun Times this morning. There was, however, a large section devoted to middle school volleyball and a feature on the disappearing habitat of the Venus flytrap.

Question for Pistonsgirl4life: Does this latest title change your feelings about Bill Laimbeer as a coach? Discuss.

shock em
More like, "Shock 'em with some press coverage."

Update! Basketbawful reader Baguete said: "Its also important to say that the game wasnt played at Auburn Hills, due some Disney On Ice event. The game was played at Eastern Michigan University instead." He's not kidding. But hey, Ypsilanti -- where EMU is located -- has been good to the Shock. They won both of their "home" playoff games against New York at EMU's convention center.

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Blogger Tonewise said...
haha wow, perfect caption at the bottom.

Are the numbers public? like is there anyway to find out just how much money this league is losing at the end of every year?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Its also important to say that the game wasnt played at Auburn Hills, due some Disney On Ice event. The game was played at Eastern Michigan Collge instead.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'd like to think of myself as somewhat of a basketball purist.

I enjoy watching even mediocre levels of competition, even down at the local gym (which has a lot of good players, more so than what I've seen from the measly fare of your gym).

However, there is nothing (basketball wathing-wise) more boring than WNBA basketball. For some reason, it just feels like a watered-down version of High School or College Basketball.

I enjoy wathcing Girl's Basketball at even the high school level more than WNBA. Can anyone explain this phenomenoen?

Blogger B-Will said...
First, I love Basketball and Womens Basketball is actually pretty cool. I admit I am one of the few people who tivo'd and then later watched the games. (I also have a crush on Becky Hammon). I just don't think the WNBA knows how to market itself. I won't get blasted in this forum for this next statement (Yeah I know who reads this blog, and my guess is mostly heterosexual guys who will agree with me.) The women basketball players should dress sexier, not all the baggy style of the mens game. They should also get more innovative with their game and give it some wrinkles that make it slightly different than your traditional NBA game. As a father of girls, I would rather have them look up to women who worked on their bodies and skill then magazine models, or actresses. If I ever have a lot of money but not enough to own an NBA team I am buying a WNBA team. I will make available stylists for all the players, making their hair look really good in braids and all the trimmings. I will partner with a make up company for make up that doesn't run when you sweat. I will get uniforms that are more like the 70's men's uniforms, and then I will institute a 4 point line, a no free throw rule, so fouls just graduate in severity, or points are given etc. and I will make the WNBA relevant by drafting attractive talented, run and gun teams.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
To the above guy - Yeah, because women's basketball has so many running and gunning teams at the college level, the players will be totally ready! Sarcasm, untrue.

I don't feel like women have to ability to hold up to men's bb. Their shooting form even disgusts me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I like where brad is going with this.

They're not men, never will be (most of them never will be, that is...) so why try and dress like men and play by the same rules? Look at women's indoor volleyball: the women wear form-fitting uniforms (which I love), the net is lower so that they can spike, and I love watching that game.

Same thing in tennis: the ladies wear skirts (which I love)and play fewer sets than the men, and that sport is also easy to watch for the casual fan.

Golf? Ladies tee off closer.

Baseball?-men Softball?-women same sport, different ball, different field etc. Uniforms are almost the same, but the girls' clothes aren't sagging off their bodies like in basketball.

Why can't the WNBA rim be lowered by a foot so that we can see these ladies cram on eachother? I'm not so sure about the whole make-up thing, but if they just lowered the rim and changed the uniforms; even just to short-shorts (daisy dukes? OK!) and tank tops, I think that the game would attract (literally) more fans.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
They should dress sexier? Honestly? And wear make-up? Please tell me you are joking.

Blogger m. Alana said...
Nick - I don't know. Maybe you just can't just have "I'm watching basketball" without "I'm watching the WNBA", and are affected accordingly?

Brad - Shit. Women can't do anything in this country without trying to visually appeal to men, can they? Nothing a woman achieves matters, even now, unless she's sexy and men are paying attention. That's so incredibly depressing. All the more so because it's true.

Moving on, I do think they should bring back tighter uniforms - for both sexes. Why? Because the baggy ones are ridiculous-looking, uncomfortable, and inhibit movement. I've played in baggy shorts before, and honestly, it was like playing in a heavy skirt and petticoat. No other sport handicaps its players this way.

I also think the rules of the women's game should be more similar to the NBA's. For example, make the game 48 minutes, not 40, so the stats are more comparable - trust me, the women can handle two more minutes a quarter. When the rules of the game itself force a more inferior product - see softball as compared with baseball - I don't think the players and the play can take all the blame.

The league is ten years old. When men's professional basketball was ten years old, they were still shooting underhanded freethrows. And still getting better press coverage. Did any of you know the finals were on?

I watched as much of the playoffs as I could, but missed a few games, because I had no idea where and when they would be on. And I'm a fan. Besides that, a lot of the games weren't even televised. I suppose some douchey kids playing sports video games are more important to ESPN's viewership.

Blogger B-Will said...
I love what anonymous had to say, and I wish he put his name there, I guess I am the only sexist in the room. I am not saying they have to be sexy, great ball players of both sexes aren't always the best looking, that being said athletic bodies are very good looking on both sexes. (Trust me a lot of women really dig Kobe, and D-Wade's and all the other guys physique even more than their money) If the WNBA wants to have success they need to play to their audience and that audience is not Men... that audience is tween girls, and tween girls love an idol, and idols are good looking, larger than life, and desired. So the 70's shorts and tank top with braids and multicolored hair stuff makes women basketball players just look cool, and I would rather have my daughters working on their jump shot, excersizing, keeping fit, and playing a team sport (Soccer works, but is such a boring sport) trying to be the next Becky Hammon then I want them starving themselves without excersize, spending a lot of money on clothes, and engaging in all the other shit that magazine, film, and other glamorous icons for a woman. Trust me, boys and girls want to look cool, and to me the WNBA girls don't look cool. Cool and Sexy are close together, I don't want them doing the lingerie bowl of basketball, but they have incredible bodies and worked hard to get them in that shape. Show it off, and sure lower the rims if the dunks get people stoked.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I actually enjoy women's internaional basketball tournaments very much. The lower levels of talent and athleticism result in smart fundamental basketball, which I love to watch. Good spacing, good ball movement, and good off-ball movement.

The few WNBA games I watched this past season weren't like that though. There were a lot of individual plays that just looked awful. A poor version of NBA Baskeball rather then the more intelligent play you get from the international teams.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK that was me (anonymous). I wasn't sure if I would have "commenter's remorse" on that one so I tabbed it anonymous and came back later and re-read it and it wasn't totally off-base. I guess we're both tied for sexiest in the room now!

Anyway you're right on the money- athletes are role models only when the kids want to be like them, and WNBA Players don't appeal to kids and that's mostly because of their image.

M. Alana-

"Nothing a woman achieves matters, even now, unless she's sexy and men are paying attention. That's so incredibly depressing. All the more so because it's true."

So... does that make women, who don't watch WNBA because they don't find the athletes aesthetically pleasing, sexist?

I disagree with your comment on softball- it is not an "inferior" product at all. I'm watching the game, and sure, I notice the cute players, but you mean to tell me that you don't oogle male athletes? Not at all? Come on, now! You can lie to me, but not to yourself! Anyway changing the rules can be a good thing, if you ask me. Women's indoor volleyball would be lame with a men's net- not to mention way too easy for the defenders to dig and pass. They lower the net, and it allows the women to unleash monster spikes, sometimes right in the face of a blocker- awesome! I think lowering the rim would allow for more exciting "in-your-face" dunks, which, I'm not ashamed to admit- I love seeing!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The WNBA has better attendance and TV ratings than the early Bill Russell era NBA. It's all relative. Just because it's not the biggest, baddest sport on the planet doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.

And newspapers are some of the worst run businesses in America at the moment. Part of the reason newspaper readership is down is because the editors are a bunch of old hacks who never cover new things. Where they place stories is all but irrelevant.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
joejoejoe -- Actually, story placement is very relevant, in that it is usually dictated by who's willing to advertise in the paper, both where (in relation to the stories) and for how much (which is dictated by how much attention they predict the stories will draw).

Blogger m. Alana said...
ak dave - I meant "inferior" in that the rules of the game make one sport ludicrously easier to play than the other. I think that, in softball in particular, women players can handle more of a challenge than is offered. Women are on average smaller and less athletic than men, of course, so I don't mind a little difference in the set-ups of courts and fields and so on - I just object to some of the specific ones that are in place. When a sport has pitchers like Jennie Finch, or the young lady that pitched ninety-something shut-out innings, for example, does the pitcher's mound really need to be half as far from the batter's box? Does the outfield really have to be so small, and the base paths so short, and the games only seven innings? No, of course not. Women players can handle more. Or in basketball, doesn't making the game only forty minutes long just invite comparisons to the college game? I agree that the lowering of the net in volleyball makes it more entertaining, and that such a thing could be approached in women's basketball, because women are after all generally smaller than men. I just think the league should embrace its status as a professional league more than it does.

And, of course women are sexist. Duh. Women prop up gender boundaries and stereotypes as much as men do, although with different power structures. With all the haters on the WNBA around, and all the women that are so insecure as to where they stand with their own femininity and attractiveness to men, is it any wonder that so few want to watch something that will get them branded as a possible (omg! oh noes!) butchy lesbian? Most of the girl sports fans I know - outside of the Ladies, whom I haven't really discussed this with - are WNBA fans, and watch as much of it proportionally as they do the NBA. They just don't talk about it, because every time it's brought up in mixed company, there's the same tired arguments, and the same ugly implications, and indeed the same insults. Not that that's happened here, but consider most of the sports blog commentariats out there, and consider how involved you'd want to get. Women are just as homophobic as men, though it's harder to tell, and just as afraid of being taken as a homosexual in any kind of real way. (How upsetting it is that homosexuality, or perceived homosexuality, is seen as such a bad thing is another subject entirely.)

As you said, I do ogle male athletes. I do so secondarily to watching them play the game. I'm a sports fan, after all. Being a hot-person-fan is just a general thing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
First of all, I was waiting for Alana to comment, cuz I think it was very important to read a female comment in here.

I agree with what Alana said and I understand what Brad meant about image and stuff. But I think will be very hard to separate this "marketing of image" from the sexist part.

Funny thing is that here in Brazil, basketball is kinda a female sport (I'd say 60-40). In high school, boys play soccer and girls play basketball and volleyball. Maybe, since the arrive of NBA broadcasts here (circa 1990), the number of boys wanting to play increased, but I remember being minority wanting to play basketball rather than soccer after school.

And I thought in USA basketball would be kinda 50/50, but this whole thread made me wonder if its true.

So, my question to you fellas is: female basketball is not a popular sport is terms of PLAYING or in terms of WATCHING?

Cuz, if there arent any girls PLAYING basketball, I dont think there will be girls or even boys willing to watch the games.

Blogger m. Alana said...
baguete, to answer your question, yes, there are a lot fewer girls playing basketball than there are boys - simply because the social structures are different, from a very early age. Girls aren't encouraged to play sports. Not discouraged, really; just not encouraged. I'm sure most of the people that read Basketbawful have played or play pick-up basketball, more than they have organized ball - in my experience, fandom and love of the game tends to follow the first more than it does the second. Have you pick-up players seen many girls playing pick-up ball? Not really, no. Not because they don't want to - but because it's not encouraged for them to, and it's not guaranteed that they can just play without a hassle. So, no, Baguete, it's not like in Brazil - all sports are boys' sports here, except for softball, cheerleading (both the athletically skilled kind and otherwise) and, to an extent, soccer. And few girls continue sports into college, and even fewer into what pro leagues there are. It's kind of a cycle; it's not encouraged for girls to play, so a most don't, so the quality of play is lowered, so nobody watches, so fewer girls play. It's getting better, though, definitely.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm going to avoid the larger issue here and answer the call out from Bawful... everything else doesn't interest me so why bother? Also I think it's important to note that I not only WATCHED the last game of the WNBA finals, I did it at a sports bar in CANADA and FORCED them to change the channel to the Shock game... where i promptly got hammered partying in celebration with my friends at the Shock's 3rd championship in 6 years... So really I'm NOT sure basketball is all the different for ANYONE regardless of gender... but whatever I refuse to argue about something this innane...

As for Laimbeer, it really comes down to three things that are all really one thing:

1) Bill had the best Guard, the best two post players and the best 6th man (EVEN WITHOUT PIERSON) and his SF took 10 years off the clock for 3 straight games... This wasn't true vs Phoenix.

2) Cheryl Ford was injured early enough in the season to both provide a rallying point for the team AND forced them to adapt to life without her (it also allowed them to trade for McWilliams-Franklin which simply wasn't possible in the middle of the finals last year).

3) The opponent's star player crumbled under pressure (and the poor girl has had a TERRIBLE 6 months after that whole "playing for Russia because USA Basketball hates me" fiasco) instead of elevating her game... that was not true vs Phoenix, who's TWO best players played their best games at key times in last years finals.

So in essence what I'm saying Bawful is that EVIL TED could have coached that team to a title, drunk, while calling everyone "SugarLips" and "SweetCheeks".

Laimbeer managed to avoid both Conn and LA... teams he would have actually had to you know "Coach" vs to advance...

Jury is still VERY VERY much out on who was more responsible for this title, but at this point I'm leaning towards Katie Smith to be frank...

Thanks for the question and sorry i was too wrecked to read the internets until now :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Alana, thanks for answering, but I THINK you're not completely right.

What you said about girls not practicing sports may not be right, if you consider the number of medals american women achived in Beijing 2008. I think most of american medals came from women rather than men (except for swimming where the ladies got very few and Phelps got every single one). I remember american women getting medals in volleyball, beach volley, basketball, tennis, soccer, etc etc.

So, back to the WNBA lack of popularity, maybe women, in general, is not used to WATCH any sport - and I think this assumption can be universally applied - and men find WNBA just plain boring.

What's the point of WNBA anyway, regarding the public? It is suposed to be watched by men or women?
If they want men to watch it, yeah, maybe changing unis and some rules would be appealing.
But, if they want women to watch, then its better to get back to the basics and try to grow basketball popularity among younger girls.

Anyway, I agree with what you said about this cycle of things getting more and more far from what they should be.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The National Teams of Australia (the Opals) and Brazil have been wearing non-traditional uniforms for some time. In fact in Australia the whole women's national league did until a couple eyars back (and changing back to normal unifroms was a huge mistake as now they just look like slow men).

I agree with Brad that giving young girls something to look up to other than what they see on TV, the internet, magazines, advertising, etc about what is considered beautiful is important. I too would prefer girls to see athletic, committed women rather than some very ordinary looking skinny women who likely drink, smoke, take drugs as part of being in that industry.

Put "australian opals basketball photos" into google and you'll get plenty of results to get the idea.

Here's one link that may be of interest:


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Side note - on the uniform thing. Did anyone see the Australian national team's jerseys this past summer? They were ridiculous, like olympic swimsuits. Though to tell you the truth I kinda liked them. Take a look....

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I agree with the whoever suggested bringing back the smaller 'Mike's shorts'. The huge shorts look bad on men, and worse on women. I am a man and I would never wear such a thing. I think they are associated with hip-hop culture, which is very hot right now...

Also, I remember reading an interview of some WNBA player (I think she was recently pregnant) who said herself that she hates these huge shorts. I think the women should at least be given a choice.

The tank tops and the make-up are ridiculous and shouldn't be lumped in together with the shorts suggestion. They don't have to be all dolled up, but they can at least look somewhat feminine if they want, can't they?

Blogger Preveen said...
Brad - Your not alone on having a crush on Becky Hammon.
Personally speaking, I've been following the WNBA for some time now. While the mens game is infinitely more exciting, the WNBA is a better learning for a guy in a country of short people who can't dunk. U think Bawful's "white man can't jump" is funny? I'm 6'2" and on a good day, have just enough vertical to touch the net. Even the best of my pick-up guys can just brush fingers on the rim. Tho that might change with people like Candace Parker coming thru. I think she even dunked in the Olympics.
However, I do believe the three point line and free throw line are smaller in the WNBA than the NBA. Tho I might be wrong. Someone who knows for sure?
As for the uniforms, maybe the better way to phrase it would be to make the uniforms more feminine, rather than calling it sexy?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
its called the convocation center..not the convention center