Four months has passed since the 2019 Championships and the Mystics, along with the rest of the WNBA, have retreated into their off-season, dubbed ‘radio silence’.
With most league players currently dispersed all over the globe playing off-season ball and talks for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) underway, the momentum gained last season has suffered greatly from this silence.
However, there is a severe lack of support for the promotion of the WNBA compared to their much more publicised NBA counterpart, which means players are stuck for cash come the end of the season and have to pursue offers in Europe to stay afloat – playing ball anyway. It’s simply just too difficult to find good coverage of women’s sports and it really does show when a whole league adopts the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ label.
Why should the WNBA have to forfeit year-round coverage and promotion when other male-dominated leagues endlessly revel in the publicity – the NBA, NFL and even men’s college sports experience wall-to-wall coverage.
Cathy Engelbert, WNBA Commissioner, said: “I truly believe there’s no better time than now for us to take advantage and take this league to new heights”.
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Engelbert has promoted a ‘three pillars’ approach since taking the reigns last Summer: “Further develop the economics of the league,” “more fans in our seats,” and “improving the player experience.”
But there is one problem with the Commissioner’s mission, thus far she has been preaching to the choir, a choir that doesn’t want to listen to women in sports. Time is running out for these organisations and the media reporting on them as a lack of acknowledgement for the female side of sports could be detrimental for future participation.
Children are consistently brought into a world broadcasting male-dominated sports, merchandise and role models. The number of young male athletes striving to be a part of the NBA or NFL is one a minute whilst young women fail to be shown the incredible female athletes making history out here too.
If the WNBA received anywhere near as much marketing effort as the over-promoted NBA does then we may be able to promote a financially-stable and sustainable career path for young female athletes. But this is the issue, where are ESPN and SkySports whilst our women are out here creating world records and winning championship titles?
Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird - these are some of the most talented athletes to step foot on a basketball court, yet they are virtually unknown outside of WNBA circles and it is not acceptable any longer. Despite Moore being dubbed the female embodiment of Michael Jordan and even landing her own sneaker line through the Jordan brand, we are consistently faced with the harsh reality of the WNBA as a shadow behind their ‘superstar’ brothers.
There has been outrage in recent years regarding the gender pay gap, yet when we transfer the argument across to the WNBA, and women’s sports in general, suddenly people don’t want to know. Women work just as hard as men for a fraction of the attention and salary.
Personally, I am fed up with each coming season being overshadowed by the question of uncertainty and the endless trail of headlines speculating a WNBA future that is forever hanging in the balance. The time has come for women’s sports to be recognised, publicised and, most importantly, stabilised.News Now - Sport News