Last week, Minnesota Lynx General Manager and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve wrote a column in The Players’ Tribune. I had a chance to read it briefly, but I didn’t have ample time to write about it until today.
Reeve’s column is an autobiography of her life. Unlike today where most current women’s basketball players have grown up watching the WNBA, Reeve didn’t have that chance. She credited her upbringing as a child in Nebraska, where her father treated Reeve and her brothers the same, whether it was doing the dishes or helping her mother cook. “When I was a kid, it was almost as if I lived in a genderless world,” Reeve wrote when reflecting on her childhood.
It wasn’t until her college years at La Salle University in Philadelphia when she started noticing that women’s athletes weren’t treated equally as men’s athletes. Even though Title IX existed, female athletes didn’t get optimal practice time or nicer locker rooms as men’s teams did. Many of the same issues also persisted early in Reeve’s WNBA coaching career, when she started with the Charlotte Sting in 2001 as an assistant, the Sting were often bumped from practices for the Hornets NBA team.
A couple things stuck out to me in Reeve’s column. First, she wrote about her frustration about not being a WNBA head coach. She credits then-Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer for being a mentor and also telling her something she didn’t like at the time, specifically that she didn’t have a “presence.” But she ultimately concurred with him, because women often aren’t expected to be in dominant positions. That said, Laimbeer actually referred Reeve to the Lynx before she was hired in 2009.
Second, Reeve used that moment and the expectations of women into a more general message that women’s sports aren’t covered enough. Even though the Lynx won four WNBA titles in the last seven seasons, they often still struggle to get more coverage in the Minneapolis area. Though money is one way to influence coverage, Reeve says that everyone ultimately has the power to make changes in day to day life, and society at large.
I really enjoyed reading Reeve’s column. And I encourage you to read it because she wrote it better than I could. What do you think can or should be done to improve the coverage of all women’s sports, whether it’s basketball, soccer, track, anything? Sound off in the comments below.