By Shaquita Newton
As the world of the Women’s National Basketball Association and their counterparts, the men, continue to grow further apart, we cannot help but wonder why.
I recently watched WNBA Washington Mystic’s star forward Elena Delle Donne join “Outside the Lines” to talk about her response to Commissioner Adam Silvers’ interview with Michelle Beadle and Get Up. It sparked a huge problem in the way the women of the WNBA are treated versus how the men of the NBA are treated.
Donne further exposed this issue.
Donne is a former WNBA most valuable player, a three-time all-league selection and the WNBA active leader in scoring average. The issues arise because most people do not know the accomplishments of Donne and the other players in the WNBA.
Why is that when we know everything there is to know about the men in the NBA? We even know about the men who barely get to play in the NBA, but we do not have that same coverage when it comes to the women.
As Donne said, “We continue to cover the negative of the WNBA as a league and it’s exhausting. We don’t get the support and coverage we deserve. We train hard, hone our craft, play our hearts out and are the best in the world. We absolutely don’t get promoted as out counterparts do.
“Yes, I’m talking about the NBA. When you put millions of dollars into marketing athletes and allow fans to get to know the players on the players on the court, they develop a connection,” Donne said. “Fans feel like they know NBA players. How is anyone to get to know me or any of my colleagues if we aren’t marketed nearly as much?”
Commissioner Adam Silver said that he is frustrated that they have been unable to get young women and girls at WNBA games. Well, it is difficult to go out and support something you have no clue about.
Many people know the WNBA exists, but those same people cannot tell you when the WNBA season starts. They cannot tell you when it ends. They most likely cannot even tell you how many teams exist in the WNBA or even name just a couple teams let alone name some players and that is a part of the problem.
Now ask those same people those questions about the NBA and see how much they know. They know this information about NBA because the proper backing is being put behind the players to expose them to more people. For example, my oldest sister does not know an ounce about sports but even she can name a couple of NBA players and not one WNBA player. She knows they are out there but they are not being put in front of her like the men are.
It is proven that people generally support things they feel a connection to, which goes for sports, music, movies and other forms of entertainment. As Donne also said, the fans of the WNBA are the most loyal fans because we have to actively search for our teams when they are playing. We can’t just turn on the television and see our teams play so easily. “
It is more difficult to find out when a WNBA game is airing and what channel it will be airing on than it is for the NBA and that goes back to lacking visibility and lack of support for those women. If Commissioner Silver wants different results, he needs to try different approaches, different tactics and different strategies to market the WNBA better than what has been done.
Exposing women to more people through better marketing strategies will increase viewership, which in turn should be better for all involved in the league. Help us get to know these women off the court and that will make us want to see more of them on the court.
We know the men and their interests but we don’t know about the women like Seimone Augustus, who collects old cars. We know Steph Curry’s entire family.
These women are just as competitive, the games are just as interesting as the men. If it is the flashiness that attracts you to the NBA then you’ll like the WNBA because those women are flashy, too. Women are shooting threes and dunking too.
People know LeBron James won three championships but don’t know Maya Moore has four. That is an issue we need resolved.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.