The WNBA Draft took place tonight on ESPN. It was held virtually, due in part to the global pandemic and taking social distancing seriously. It was going to be an experiment for other sports leagues to see if they could also pull it off. Pulling this off was not going to be easy because of technological glitches, different WiFi structures, delays, etc.
The virtual WNBA Draft actually started off really well. They had a great introduction, honoured Gigi Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester in a nice tribute, had great studio integration with Rebecca Lobo and Ryan Ruocco and Sue Bird had intelligent insight into certain players. She would make a fantastic head coach or TV analyst, she’d be great at both. It is absolutely normal for the #1 pick to have a ton of TV air time and to take up around the first 15 minutes of draft coverage. Sabrina Ionescu does deserve that coverage. She shined in college, she deserves that spotlight.
As a matter of fact, the first couple of picks were just fine. It’s when they got to the 4th pick in Chennedy Carter, and she did not have a proper microphone. The TV viewer can hear the conversation echo back and forth between her and Holly Rowe which is not great. By the way, Chennedy Carter is going to be a fantastic WNBA player. She’s going to be electric. Moving onto the 6th pick in Mikiah Herbert Harrigan in which they did not even interview her. I don’t even think ESPN realized that they missed her interview completely. I know that they acknowledged that that the 8th pick Ruthy Hebard was having some technical delays in terms of TV interview but that’s it. They never circled back.
I think ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA first round was actually pretty good. Minor problems. The issues that arose happened right around the 13th pick. We got the announcements from the commissioner on picks 13, 14, and 15 but after that, we just got them on the bottom of our screens. No offense, but when it is on TV commercials, that is when people look away, or reply to texts, emails, etc. No one is looking at the bottom of their TV screens.
On a personal level, when I am trying to tweet about certain players and how they fit or don’t fit on that team, another bunch of players would crop up. I barely had time to process it and then they never even bothered to say that was the end of Round 2. Or that the final round had started. I can’t even imagine what it was like for the players. They were robbed of their moment and the draft was swiftly finished at 8:45 pm. Not even 9 pm. We barely got acknowledgement of some of the second and third round picks. I should note, that some of the third round picks fell and can probably make a WNBA roster.
Overall, it was a mess. A hot mess. I’m so tired of women’s basketball and this is professional women’s basketball being treated like this. ESPN could have given the draft another hour. They should have slowed down their picks. Talked about a few of the second round and third round picks. They should have interviewed some more players. This was the perfect opportunity to bring in more WNBA fans as the sports world has essentially shut down and more eyes were on this draft than ever before. But, nope. That did not happen. ESPN let the WNBA down. They did them a disservice. I was severely disappointed and I know that I am not the only one.
I would say, I hope for a better WNBA Draft next year, but I think that’s hoping for too much. I think they will deliver a great first round but let us down again for the second and third rounds. Maybe one day, we will have a dedicated women’s sports channel that will get it right and deliver us the stories all of us want. Maybe one day