It's what you've been waiting all year for: the opportunity to watch the Sacramento Monarchs defend their title against the Detroit Shock. This is the WNBA Finals, baby...you can have the whole chair, but you're only going to need the edge of you seat for this one!!

WNBA Finals
Can you feel the excitement? Yeah, I didn't think so.

I'd be willing to bet no one reading this blog knew who was in the WNBA Finals. In fact, most of you probably didn't even know the WNBA season was still going on. At this point, the WNBA has deteriorated from "unique opportunity for professional sports" to "disappointing nonsuccess" to "abject failure" to "totally depressing mess." I haven't felt this morbid since my family decided to pull the plug on grandma...and she wasn't even on life support at the time.

It's become entirely obvious that women's basketball as a professional sport isn't going to work. Nobody cares about it. ESPN provides more coverage of the
National Spelling Bee than the WNBA. And it doesn't get much better locally. The city of Chicago started a new WNBA franchise this season, and I honestly can't even remember what it's called. I read the sports section of the local papers every day, and in the last few months I've seen exactly two articles about the Sky (I just looked the name up): once about them ending an 11-game losing streak, and one about how they plan to improve next season (they finished 5-29...again, I just looked it up). For the sake of comparison, in the same span of time I've seen articles about an International Hot Dog Eating Contest and a competitive Rock/Paper/Scissors tournament.

This year is the WNBA's
10th Anniversary. They released an All-Decade Team and everything. But I would be surprised if your average NBA fan could name more than two or three members of that team, and that's only because David Stern bombards us with WNBA marketing during NBA Playoff telecasts. And let's face it, Stern is the only reason the WNBA still exists. He absolutely will not give up on it. It's like a personal crusade for him. And I understand his reasoning. For him, it's about ethics. Women deserve to have professional sports.

I agree with him to a point. But sports don't exist in a vacuum. They're businesses too. They have to become self-sufficient, and, you know, actually make money. The WNBA has never had a single profitable season. How many businesses can you think of that would survive ten years of losing money? If you were running that business, would you keep it going? Hell no. You'd write it off and start something new. But the WNBA is under the protective umbrella of it's older, more successful brother. As long as the NBA keeps turning a profit, Stern will keep flushing huge piles of money down the toilet on his pet project. Meanwhile, he'll fine the living hell out of Mark Cuban for acting like an idiot. Maybe somebody should fine Stern for his bad business sense. Then again, maybe Cuban's fines are what's actually supporting the WNBA. And if that's the case, he might become a folk hero for women's sports. Sort of.

The problems dooming the WNBA aren't going to change any time soon. The players are slow, at least when compared to their NBA counterparts. They can't dunk. The game isn't aesthetically pleasing. Statbuster outlined a five-point plan to make the WNBA work. It included things like making the hoop shorter (thereby enabling the ladies to play above the rim), using fewer players (4-on-4 or 3-on-3 would increase individual scoring), and changing the uniforms to skin-tight spandex or maybe those little bathing suits that the beach volleyball players wear. Think about that. I've personally watched about 1000 percent more women's volleyball than women's basketball...and I hate volleyball! Those volleyball people understand this. They know how to attract viewers.


volleyball
Finally...a sport I can, ahem, get behind.

I suppose you could accuse me of being sexist, but there's no question that many women's sports are blatantly using sex to sell their players. The careers of tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova are based almost entirely on how sexy they are...and Kournikova isn't even that good at tennis. Even the historically butch LPGA is getting into the act. I mean, have you seen Natalie Gulbis? Or Laura Diaz? Or Michelle Wie? I absolutely despise golf, but I can still name three professional women golfers right off the top of my head. That's the same number of WNBA All-Decade players I could name, by the way. And basketball is my favorite sport.

There's no shame in giving your customers what they want. After all, NBA realized its viewers enjoy dunks and athletic drives to the basket, so the Powers That Be made palming the ball and travelling legal. Hockey allows supervised fights to break out in the middle of a game. And the main problem facing the WNBA is that is just doesn't provide what a larger customer base would want. I say: give it to them. Change up the game. Make it interesting and fun to watch. You don't even have to make all the players wear bikinis, although that would be a hoot. But the whole "slower, more boring NBA" thing has failed. Let's try something different.

By the way, the WNBA Finals kick off at 7:30 P.M. EST on ESPN2.
15 Comments:
Blogger "rem" said...
interesting and controversial call bbawful but have u checked out some of those players... there are some that i would rather not see in a bikini

but you're right something has to be done

there is a market for the WNBA i don't believe stern whould pull the plug

playoffs aside what about combining double headers with either NBDL/summer league/pre draft

Anonymous Craig said...
To me the WNBA is not even worth joking about. It's a complete waste of time and therefore not worth blogging about.

But since you brought up the subject... Here's a few issues I have:

1. Stop throwing it down my throat: The NBA always tries to cross promote the WNBA with the NBA. They had to create a competition just to involve the ladies in All-Star Saturday. (Two-Ball anyone?) During the playoffs we are carpet bombed with the "We got next!" adds and commercials. This is just poor marketing. Hardcore NBA fans will NEVER convert to the WNBA. Look elsewhere...

2. Local Media Coverage: Because I live in the highly PC town of LA the LA Times sports section actually covers the local WNBA team. If not you get the occasional "why doesn't the LA Horses get the same coverage as the Lakers?"

I'll tell you why, nobody cares. Attendance has been dropping annually since 2000.

3. Television Ratings: Notice how they always post TV ratings for practically every sport except for the WNBA. Just once I want to see what the WNBA draws on a weekend game on ABC. (probably 0.000001)

4. Bad Basketball: Remember the early adds for the WNBA? "This is REAL basketball!!!" Not really. The pace is slow and the play is below average. Sure if you compare it to grade school hoops the WNBA rules, but compared to even high school basketball it blows.

5. Sex Appeal: Like you said, female sports succeed if there's the athletes are attractive. The WNBA on the otherhand... well back in the day when I had a sports public access TV show, we did WNBA score updates by reading the Racing Forum. All I'm saying is that more people care about the LPGA now because the golfers are looking better these days.

My conclusion: I hate the WNBA! Sure there's a small market for it, but let's keep it out of my site.

Anonymous Dan said...
If the NBA wants to support the WNBA, what is it to you? Maybe they want to develop the other HALF of the market for sports entertainment. Ya think?

Not to mention the thousands of young women who have role models in women's sports. To reduce the whole thing down to "they aren't good looking" or "they don't wear skimpy clothes" is stupid.

The game is more of a purist's game, by the way. The same people who thought Detroit and San Antonio was boring will think the same thing about the WNBA game. And just as the NBA adjusted the rules to accommodate its fans, I'm sure the WNBA will look at the same issues.

In the meantime ... go Shock!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
If the NBA wants to support the WNBA, what is it to you? Maybe they want to develop the other HALF of the market for sports entertainment. Ya think?

As Craig pointed out above, you can hardly watch the NBA without having the WNBA forced on you. That's what bothers me; that I can't consume the product of my choice without having another product I don't want foisted on me. I should just turn the channel during commercials then, right? Well, what about when I'm watching the All-Star game?

Look, I'm all for developing the other half of the sports market. But they're putting out a boring product very few people are intereted in. I'm saying they need to provide a better product.

Not to mention the thousands of young women who have role models in women's sports. To reduce the whole thing down to "they aren't good looking" or "they don't wear skimpy clothes" is stupid.

Actually, my argument isn't that they necessarily need to wear skimpy clothing. It's that the game isn't aesthetically pleasing. It just isn't fun or enjoyable to watch. But the WNBA marketing focuses on repeatedly telling consumers that "There's this great product out there, and you should enjoy it even if you don't enjoy it." That's not going to change how people feel about the game. Therefore, I think they need to make changes that will make it more exciting to watch. Some sports are using sex appeal, and it works. But they could also alter the height of the rim and so forth. The product they provide doesn't work. They should change it. That would increase the liklihood that women's basketball would stick around, thereby providing more role models, etc.

The game is more of a purist's game, by the way. The same people who thought Detroit and San Antonio was boring will think the same thing about the WNBA game. And just as the NBA adjusted the rules to accommodate its fans, I'm sure the WNBA will look at the same issues.

Yes, that's what we get told over and over and over. We should like it because it's pure. Well, if that's the case, why isn't Stern tranforming the NBA back into a purist's league? Because people don't want to watch 1950s basketball anymore. And that's essentially what the WNBA is. As for the Spurs/Pistons Finals...you're talking apples and oranges. That was two defenive teams grinding the hell out of each other. You'll notice that both of those teams became a lot more interesting, and scored a lot more points, when the new rule changes were incorporated. That Finals wasn't about fundamentals and purist basketball. It was more about clutching, grabbing, and slowing the game down to a snail's pace. That's not fun to watch.

In the meantime ... go Shock!

I could never bring myself to root for a team coached by Bill Laimbeer.

Anonymous Totally Jammin said...
Look, I'll never respect a league that me and my buddies could beat the championship team of in a pickup game...while on mushrooms in a rainbow colored gym...actually not beat, most likely destroy.

Some dickhead asked me if I wanted my daughter to play in the WNBA someday. I looked at him and said, "Hell no, I want her to have a real job...like being a Subway sandwich artist." What an idiot...anything is better than the WeakassNBA

WNBA = We'll Never Be Anything!

Blogger shimmy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous Ray said...
"Look, I'll never respect a league that me and my buddies could beat the championship team of in a pickup game...while on mushrooms in a rainbow colored gym...actually not beat, most likely destroy."

Woohaha... I'd bet my eyesight you couldn't. Don't you have any homework to do???

Blogger shimmy said...
(I removed this comment to edit it for clarity, and now I'm reposting it. Sorry, for the trouble.)

First: How many businesses lose money, year after year, you ask? A lot! Ever heard of the internet? There are many, many business ventures of all types that chronically lose money, but are supported by investors because there is a belief that there will be value in the future. Or that there is value in the present that is worth losing some coin over.

Second: Let's a play game, ok? We like games! ...

Close your eyes. Imagine being transported back to the beginning of the NBA. Before Cousy, even. No jumpshots, no dunks, no nothin'. Boring ass white guys. THIS SUCKS. But wait, a genie appears and tells you, "if you ride this thing out (and it might take a while) you'll eventually get a blog called BASKETBAWFUL, and it'll be hilarious. And, trust me, the game will get a lot better. It just needs time, and it needs a fella to help it out by not pulling the goddamn plug. Can you do that for a genie, you silly/ macho/ short-sighted/ can't take a few mentions of the sistas finally gettin' a little love/ who are you? Archie Bunker? / wake up, it's 2006, get a clue/ silly boy?!"

What would you say to that friendly genie, who is a big fan of your site?? :)

Blogger Alex Craddock said...
good call bbawful.
i mean, i come the uk, and when my family went on holiday to the us, i was delighted when i heard we were going to l.a > staples center > la lakers. but unfortunately, the night we went to the staples center, the sparks were playing instead. aha... i have to say, if was below par in bball terms. i cant really see a woman drving to the lane and posterizing a woman, then pumping her muscles afterwards, its just like...no, thats wrong. who would wanna go out with a muscley woman who dunks on people.. eurghh..

oh and dont hate me for supporting the lakers, its not my fault kobes a douche!

Anonymous Michael said...
I never in my life thought i would say this, but I would almost rather watch a womens baskteball game over some NBA games. Specifically the Atlanta Hawks. That is why a friend and I started...

www.hawkssuck.com

go check it out and leave a comment.

Michael from HawksSuck.com

Anonymous Dan said...
How is the game forced on anyone? Not any more than Bud Light or American Express. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Didn't you in the same post point out that you couldn't even find press coverage for the WNBA Finals? Hardly sounds like anything is being forced on anyone.

Yes, the NBA has changed the rules to make the game flow more. But there seems to be strong contingent of NBA "fans" who would honestly rather watch AND1 mix tapes or a slam dunk contest. However, there are also fans who enjoy watching teamwork, defense, and players who actually listen to their coaches. The product may need work, but it isn't nearly as bad as you make it out to be. I would suggest it is biases like yours that are a much bigger problem, and why the NBA spends significant cash marketing the product - because it doesn't matter how good it might be if people won't give it a chance.

And, "Totally Jammin," unless you and your buddies are recent Division I or NBA players who have kept in pretty good shape, I guarantee you would get killed playing even a mediocre WNBA team. But you'd probably claim you were fouled every time you got faced.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
amazon losst money for many years but kept running so the losing money argument doesn't really worl

Blogger aO said...
Not to mention the thousands of young women who have role models in women's sports. To reduce the whole thing down to "they aren't good looking" or "they don't wear skimpy clothes" is stupid.

well that is the thing, i know a few females that LOVE basketball and are good at it but none of them could name more than 4-5 players in the wnba, and ddo not follow it...womens college basketball is heaps more intersesting to watch than the wnba...even when i was in high school at the height of the wnba's popularity female hooper at my school were only midly interested in terms of following the women's league


First: How many businesses lose money, year after year, you ask? A lot! Ever heard of the internet? There are many, many business ventures of all types that chronically lose money, but are supported by investors because there is a belief that there will be value in the future. Or that there is value in the present that is worth losing some coin over.

Second: Let's a play game, ok? We like games! ...

Close your eyes. Imagine being transported back to the beginning of the NBA. Before Cousy, even. No jumpshots, no dunks, no nothin'. Boring ass white guys. THIS SUCKS. But wait, a genie appears and tells you, "if you ride this thing out (and it might take a while) you'll eventually get a blog called BASKETBAWFUL, and it'll be hilarious. And, trust me, the game will get a lot better. It just needs time, and it needs a fella to help it out by not pulling the goddamn plug. Can you do that for a genie, you silly/ macho/ short-sighted/ can't take a few mentions of the sistas finally gettin' a little love/ who are you? Archie Bunker? / wake up, it's 2006, get a clue/ silly boy?!"


honestly i believe the wnba is an worthwhile endeavor however, i am not delusional. for the wnba to ever be lucrative it needs to appeal to more people and that does not appear likely, it is strictly a father daughter (it has been said the wnba has a large lesbian audience as well, but it is not pc to court this demographic) affair.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
All of you are completely overlooking the fact that this entire post is sexist and rude. I dont care if the WMBA doesnt draw as big a crowd as the NBA, they are still respectful women who work hard for their bodies and their teams. You people who are sitting at home posting on here about how they are 'too muscle toned for bakinis' are probably too fat to get out of your computer chairs. These women are athletes who deserve your respect if not your intrest in their sport. They dont need to parade their bodies for all you perverted men to make a statement for themselves. These WNBA players are better than to think everyday about how they can please the fat men at home who are watching football cheerleaders in slow motion rather than watching their games. They dont care about you. They care about their teams, and their fitness. Sports are serious. Sports are a fantastic outlet for the few Americans left who have any respect for their bodies. So suck it up. Womens basketball is just as good as any other sport. Dont sit here and bash these women before looking at yourself in the mirror. You people could never do what they do.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I feel the same way it is so friggin boring. Here is a post someone put up that hit the nail right in the head. It’s not that I hate female sports just female basketball read here to see the wnba does suck.

http://whyarewomensostupid.com/2010/07/28/i-hate-the-wnba-it-sucks/

You may need to copy and paste, but I’m sure you will feel the same way

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