"Nothing is more disappointing than when people don't live up to your expectations."
Wisdom from my mother that applies perfectly to a situation that occurred earlier this week.
I grew up in the Washington, DC area, which isn't exactly a town decorated with professional sports championship banners. But Gilbert Arenas gave Washington Wizards fans hope for three glorious seasons.
Well, eight total seasons with the Wizards, but three that included trips to the playoffs. I was a Gilbert Arenas fan. I loved the story behind his choice to be number 0; he generously donated money to DC schools for every point he scored, and not to mention he was a three-time NBA all-star.
But then Arenas fell off the radar, and, to be honest, I completely forgot about him. Until I saw Elena Delle Donne, the 2015 WNBA MVP tweet #ByeGilbert. Of course, a simple Google search revealed that Gilbert Arenas had taken to Instagram to share his thoughts on the WNBA.
"gilbertpettyarenas: NOW this is what america was hoping for when they announced the #WNBA back in 1996... not a bunch of chicks running around looking like,cast members from #orangeisthenewblack...dont get me wrong,they have few #cutiepies but theres a whole alotta #beanpies running around hahahahahaha if #skylardiggins came out like this,I dont care if she missed every layup..imma buy season tickets and I dont even know where the fuck #tulsa is hahahaha #2016newwnbaoutfitPLS and if u think this is sexist,9 times out of 10 u the ugly one and we didnt pay to come see u play anyway #donkeykong ...smdh #thiswillbeawesome #soldouteverywhere"
If you can deduce a coherent thought through the grammar and frequent usage of hashtags in his post, it says this: a female basketball player's only purpose should be to look good for men.
Oh, Gilbert. You have daughters. Really?
However, unfortunately, sexism is nothing new to women in sports, particularly in women's basketball. Remember Don Imus's remarks about the 2006-2007 Rutgers women's basketball team? As a former women's college basketball player, I receive snide remarks about my appearance and sexual orientation from males all the time regarding the sport. The issue at hand is ignorance.
What's disappointing about Arenas's social media post is he's essentially criticizing the culture surrounding the game that he loves. There's a special bond that basketball players and coaches share.
In my time around the college game, I never met a men's coach/player that didn't support the women's team. It's not about being male or female; it's about loving the game of basketball - not about how visually appealing you are to the opposite sex while you play.
Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins have done great things for our game. Delle Donne has averaged 20.2 PPG and 6.4 RPG in her career, and was the 2015 WNBA MVP. Have you ever seen her play?
She's like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant - 6'5" tour de force that can shoot like a perimeter player and handle the ball like a point guard. Skylar Diggins is not only the lone female with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, but she's also a businesswoman, creating her own headband line with Nike.
Oh, and she's pretty good on the court too - Diggins averaged 17.8 PPG this past season, while shooting almost 45 percent from the three point line. Both of these successful, hard-working, talented basketball players are beautiful, and have received attention nationally for their looks.
But Elena Delle Donne put it best, "Women were not put on this earth just for men to look at. We are people. We have a purpose. We are role models. I am an athlete first and foremost..."
Thank you for using proper grammar, Elena.
Does sexiness sell? Absolutely. According to Forbes.com, the 2015 Victoria Secret Fashion Show was viewed by 500 million people, bringing in millions of dollars. You know what you're going to get when you watch.
However, also, know what you're going to get when you watch the WNBA. It is not the Victoria Secret Fashion Show - you will see women playing basketball in basketball uniforms, wearing basketball shoes. The league features 144 of the best players in the world. Yes, the whole entire world. Can you imagine being a part of a group of 144 of the best female basketball players in the world?
It is an honor to play a sport, not a privilege because it requires hard work, discipline, and a lifestyle change. All I can do is provide facts, and you can draw your own conclusions:
- There are only 12 WNBA teams with 12 man rosters. The game is incredibly competitive, and if you want a spot on that roster, you probably need to focus more on your game than your hair.
- The WNBA holds a three-round draft, meaning only 36 players receive the opportunity to make a roster for their rookie season.
- Unlike the men's side, there is no one and done rule in NCAA women's basketball. So these females are playing, at least, three years of college hoops, while maintaining their institution's required minimum grade point average. Have you ever had to write a paper on a coach bus, then take a microeconomics test in a hotel, then try to beat Ohio State that night? It's hard.
- Candace Parker, who was the number one overall draft pick in 2008, is the only player in WNBA history to win both MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Wes Unseld and Wilt Chamberlain are the only two other American professional players to do so.
My point is this. These women play basketball, and they're great at it. They are the elite of the elite. Coaches and fans don't care what they look like as long as they're putting the ball in the basket. If you want to watch and support them, great. If not, your loss.
They share a love and dedication for the same game as you, Mr. Arenas. Why try to shame them?