I’ve been pondering over writing this blog post and whether or not people will actually read this post. This is a topic that ever since I first became aware of women’s basketball nine years ago never seems to go away. Or have a solution. It’s one of the struggles that many great WNBA/WBB fans and passionate writers and bloggers have to face every day.
As many of us know, when it comes to sports, the four main men’s sports get all the coverage and love from both fans and media companies alike. I’m talking about the NFL (which in some parts of the United States, it’s more like a religion), the NBA (once again, in some parts of the United States and world wide, it’s also the biggest sport), the NHL (this is HUGE in Canada, and in few parts in the United States) and MLB (which is America’s favorite summer past time).
So, in turn the four main men’s sports get a huge chunk of TV money from big name media companies such as ABC, ESPN, Sportsnet and TSN(HUGE in Canada), CBS, TNT, FOXSports, etc. This leaves very little TV money to give to other sports. What gets left over goes to women and men’s tennis, NASCAR, golf, gymnastics, etc. The remaining goes to the niche sports. Women’s college basketball and the WNBA fall into that category.
It’s not just the TV companies who pull this type of move. It’s the newspapers(although to be fair, newspapers are dying), radio, online magazines/websites, etc. They only provide in depth coverage of those four main men’s sports. They only send their major beat writers to cover those events and send their columnists to write an opinion on those games. It’s like a well oiled machine for those four main major men’s sports, not only in the US and Canada, but world wide as well.
So, what does this have to with the WNBA/women’s college basketball coverage? Well, it’s pretty obvious. If all of the TV broadcasts and media focus on just those sports, there leaves absolutely little coverage for the women’s basketball world. No major sports personality is asking questions on TV on why the WNBA does not have their official draft details out yet, even though the draft is in less than three weeks! No major columnist is talking about how the WNBA Training camp will go and which players are in good shape, etc. Because of this, the WNBA/WBB world does not have any added pressure to release their details. Nor, will they have to because no major sports person will be there to release it to the public.
This may sound like I’m being pessimistic about the coverage that there is out there, considering there are some pretty good ESPN podcasts and one good ESPN writer who covers both the WNBA/WBB which is great. There are also some very good independent websites and great podcasts out there online too. I’m not complaining about that coverage, I’m complaining about the fact the WNBA/WBB world will never have as strong as a fan base simply because the TV/media coverage is non existent compared to major sports out there.
For example, if I take my friend right now to a WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center, and the Mystics take care of the Sun easily and win in impressive fashion, my friend is impressed. Now, they want to know how they can keep track of the Mystics. I’ll tell them all my favorite Twitter handles, my favorite independent WNBA websites and some great podcasts. They say thanks, and check them out. Now, they are hooked onto the Mystics. They can’t get enough. But, now they want more. That coverage alone isn’t enough. They want to hear the Mystics on the radio. They want their favorite major sports personality to discuss the Mystics on TV. But, sadly, they won’t get it. They won’t get it on ESPN either. My friend is now upset. They’ll still check on the Mystics once in a while to see how they are doing, and tries to attend the games, but the fan level is diminished. They are now longer obsessed. And that is one way the WNBA loses their fans.
It’s a vicious cycle. This just doesn’t apply to fans either. It applies to great talented writers and bloggers who once wrote about the WNBA and women’s college basketball, but had to drop the coverage altogether because they couldn’t make a living out of it unlike their fellow writers and columnists who cover those major men’s sports. This is such a shame because the WNBA/women’s basketball world loses those talented writers who wanted to cover the WNBA athletes and stories but couldn’t due to a lack of interest (from those major media/TV companies)
The WNBA/women’s basketball executives need to stand up and demand respect for their league and better coverage. They need to figure out how to get more than just NINE games on ESPN. They need better communication from league executives down to their fans. If ESPN can not provide the coverage they need, they need to add another TV partner. Or, get creative and figure out a new way to integrate new content. They need to push the media, both TV and newspapers to give them better access. They deserve that much. It’s time. If the league continues this way, there won’t be a league at all.
I won’t lie. There are tough days to cover the WNBA/women’s basketball world. No, this is not my day job. It’s hard getting simple releases, difficult getting easy answers, etc. But, I continue writing/tweeting about the sport simply because it deserves the coverage. I’m here to continue it while I still can. I will write for those great athletes that need their stories to be told on other women’s basketball websites. My voice will still be here. But it’s a damn shame, that we have lost so many great fans/writers due to this vicious cycle.