Editor's note - Here's a really passionate take on why the WNBA isn't in dire straits. Some extra links and clarifications were added as well.
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"An Opportunity is never lost it is only found by someone else."
Contrary to the naysayers, (my friends mostly) there is a very strong possibility that the WNBA will play on.
The six teams in the league that are owned by NBA team owners know it.
Joe Lacob of the Golden State Warriors knows it, that is why he wants in so badly.
The Sparks will play on (somewhere) and women's professional basketball will play on.
There I said you may now feel free to call me crazy, but hear me out before you take my car keys.
Number One - Money talks and we know what walks.
The ESPN contract is signed, sealed, and delivered, each team that plays from now through the 2022 season will get a check for one million dollars (approximately). The Boost Mobile contract, sponsorship deals, teams with local TV contracts, owners like Ted Leonsis of the Washington Mystics who own their own arenas and need to fill them during the summer months when kids are out of school. Jersey Sales, parking, concessions. Money, Money, Money....
Wealthy people are wealthy because they understand you don't walk away from guaranteed money. Wealthy people are wealthy because they are the farmers of currency. They figured out how to grow money and acquire wealth at a very early age and will continue to do it until they die.
They will cut costs in other places if they have to, like cheaper arenas (see Sparks in Staples Center) but rest assured they will continue to show up every summer to collect their checks from ESPN until there aren't anymore.
Number Two - The Three to See (and others) have a lot of basketball left.
Did we not just finish an WNBA season with a one percent increase in attendance? That increase happened in spite of the fact that Tulsa and Atlanta continue to drag down attendance figures.
WNBA President Laurel Richie probably goes home every night and gives thanks to Elena Delle Donne for saving the Chicago franchise. Two seasons ago rumors of the Sky looking to relocate. This season with EDD one of the top draws in the league.
Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins may have failed to reach basketball expectations this season, but man every time you turned around they were on another talk show or radio show. (Loved you on Conan Brittney!!)
Their fan bases and in turn the fan bases for the Mercury and Shock continue to grow. The new age athlete is/are their own brand, that this new social media generation is willing to follow and watch.
It would not surprise me at all if Diggins gets traded to Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. SKYDIG 4 in LA or the Big Apple. It could happen.
Did I mention the league still has other stars, Candace Parker ,Tina Charles, Diana Taurasi, etc., etc., etc...
Number Three - The WNBA is right on course.
In the 1950's and 1960's the NBA was barely older than the WNBA is now.
It was regionalized, no TV contracts, No national sponsorships and TV coverage was probably worse in some ways than the WNBA's coverage now, yet no one seriously considered closing up shop and going home.
For the people old enough to remember the two big sports on TV in the 1950's were Boxing and Wrestling.
Yet no one told Bill Russell and the Celtics to close up shop and go home that their sport wasn't going anywhere, that no one would ever watch them on TV, except maybe in Boston.
Oh by the way, WNBA TV ratings were way up this year. No more Wrestling for me.
Number Four - Adam Silver will support the WNBA.
It always amazes me how many people don't see the big picture.
Next month, Adam Silver will be the leader of professional basketball in this country.
Not men's basketball, not women's basketball, but professional basketball.
The main job of any leader in any sport is to get as many eyeballs glued to his sport as many hours a day as humanly possible. That is why each of the Big Four sports leagues has its own network. Each of those networks must fill airtime 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. As the WNBA continues to grow it means more eyeballs watching his sport in the summer instead of other sports. No good leader would ever just surrender those months to someone else.
Do you really think Adam Silver really wants young sports fans, potential future customers, watching soccer and baseball in the summer?
I think not!
Number Five - Just like the NBA learned over time, the WNBA is learning how to work for greater success.
When the league was formed why wasn't Chicago given a franchise, yet Sacramento and Charlotte were?
Why were the Houston Comets (the preeminent WNBA franchise at the time) sold to a man who couldn't afford them?
That was the best option three years ago not San Francisco or the Bay Area.
Yes I know through the first 17 years there have been some head scratchers.
The NBA looks vastly different than it did prior to Magic and Bird, not to mention the shot clock or three point line.
Tulsa and Atlanta will eventually be moved to cities with greater populations(Probably) and larger fan bases, but the league will grow even if they stay put.
In spite of everything, every setback, there is far too much upside to think the league will just close its doors. Just like the NBA didn't close its doors when Wrestling was getting all the ratings.
For all the reasons mentioned here and I'm sure others the WNBA is here to stay.
Opportunity was found April 24,1996 and began play in 1997,and I'm sure Adam Silver wants all the basketball kept in the family.
I am sure I will be taking my granddaughters to see some WNBA games 25 years from now.
Just like I take my daughter now.
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One final request...
someone please call my wife and ask her to come pick me up...
My friends took my car keys again.