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No ‘Gray’ area: What the Sparks’ backup PG can teach us

As the regular WNBA season winds down, teams start to heat up or cool down, and players begin to hit their stride or continue what they’ve done all season long. The LA Sparks’ Chelsea Gray is one who has never backed down as of late - and perhaps more should take notice.

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

Los Angeles, CA — It’s wasn’t that long ago I wrote a paper analyzing the debate over whether or not lowering the rim in women’s basketball would help grow the game. I stumbled upon copious amounts of research, regarding sport as a predominantly masculine domain, and how female sports almost always take a back seat to male sports. But what was particularly surprising, was that more men are consumers and fans of female athletics than women.

I’m sure for any female with a passion for sports – whether a player, a fan or someone working in the industry – this is just as puzzling for you as it was for me initially. We live in an era of women empowerment – yet I question how we will ever make strides if we aren’t even supporting our own? How do we empower on more than a micro level if women aren’t even vouching for other women?

Let’s just say I had a minor revelation watching Los Angeles go head-to-head with Atlanta tonight – and LA’s Chelsea Gray is to thank for that. Let’s look at Gray’s resume over the last three games: Sept. 1: eight minutes and zero points; Sept. 2: three minutes and zero points; Sept. 6: 18 minutes and 20 points; Sept. 8: 23 minutes and 16 points.

Players like Gray need to have the eyes of aspiring female basketball players on them. Players like Gray need aspiring sports-related professionals and female sports junkies on them. Why? Because we can all learn from the “never, say die” attitude she’s exhibited over the last four games. You want empowerment? Start paying attention to every player who sees court time in the WNBA.

Do you ever wonder why the transfer rate of college athletes – both men and women – is so high these days? Here’s my two cents: Because having to work for a reward is undervalued.

Because athletes in a position like Gray, having played 11 minutes and scored zero points in two games, point the fingers elsewhere instead of rolling up their sleeves and going to work. Gray went from a big fat egg in the scoring column to dropping 20 points four days later. Can we just appreciate that for a minute?

I don’t need to convince many people that players like Elena Delle Donne, Sue Bird, and Diana Taurasi are highly talented players who deserve to be recognized and pumped up.

We know these names and what they are doing for women’s basketball. They are shifting stereotypes in a favorable direction. They have transcended the game in numerous capacities. But there is so much more to take notice of. Allow Chelsea Gray to be case study number one.