After Notre Dame sophomore guard Skylar Diggins helped lead the Fighting Irish to the 2011 National Championship Game, highlighted with back to back wins over Tennessee and Connecticut where she scored at least 24 points in each of those games, Diggins has become one of the most talked about figures in women's college basketball. She now has over 100,000 followers on Twitter. That's more than other women's basketball players like Maya Moore who has a bit over 10,000; Cappie Pondexter also is at around the 10,000 mark herself; Lisa Leslie has about 16,000 followers, and Candace Parker is short of 80,000. (All these marks are as of the last time I checked their Twitter sites.)
Skylar's great play in the NCAA tournament isn't the only thing that has driven her rapidly increasing popularity. She also is one pretty lady and has become a sex symbol for women's basketball in the eyes of many, seemingly overnight. Diggins' play and looks caught the eye of rapper Lil' Wayne who sent tweets referring to Skylar as his wife and Chris Brown sent some congratulatory tweets as well. Washington Wizards point guard John Wall also gave her a holler tweet, and the two exchanged Twitter kisses very soon after the fact. Life can't be much better for Skylar when the gossip sites believe that she was asked to Dougie with the Great Wall, can it?
Well, in today's world of social networking and viral media, someone can become famous in a positive way really quickly. For example in the Washington, DC area, a rap by comedian Remy Munasifi about Arlington, Virginia went viral and the song can now be downloaded on iTunes. Viral media can also make someone look bad just as quickly like Alexandra Wallace with her rant on Asians at the library at UCLA.
Last Friday, a nude picture supposedly of Skylar Diggins surfaced on the net. Diggins soon after sent some messages on Twitter denying that the pictures were of her, and the University of Notre Dame has also come to her defense. I'm not going to elaborate on the issue of the nude picture other than the fact that I never really thought that the nude picture was of her (the picture in question was later determined to be that of an unnamed amateur porn model), the act itself was tasteless even if the picture was hers, and that this picture was put out there as an attempt to throw bad publicity her way.
Still, it is undeniable that Skylar has become a more mainstream name in sports since the NCAA Tournament, at least in part due to the fact that she is beautiful, and I think it's also in part due to the fact that she has gotten endorsements on Twitter from prominent young men like Jimmy, Breezy, and Weezy (who even wore a Notre Dame basketball jersey at a recent concert at Indiana University).
We have seen some women's basketball players over the last 10 years touted as possible "saviors" due, at least in part, to their potential sex appeal to younger men, such as Sue Bird and Candace Parker. Now Skylar is the newest addition to this list. While any women's basketball player with a large amount of sex appeal can gain fans because of that alone, can that player continue to keep those fans because she plays good basketball, especially over the long haul?
As a man, I'll admit that sex appeal does make me pay attention to some players on a team more than others initially, but at the end of the day, I'd rather see that player and her team play at a high level night-in and night-out. When I see that, I don't just become a fan of one player because of her looks, but a fan of her entire team because they can play ball well together. It will be interesting to see if guys like Lil' Wayne and Chris Brown can or will do the same as Skylar continues her basketball career at the University of Notre Dame over the next two years and once she eventually plays in the WNBA after that.