In a recent interview on ESPN’s Get Up, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shared some thoughts about the WNBA’s ongoing “marketing problem.” He emphasized that said problem could only be solved “by growing the business” and asserted that “this is not a Title IX issue but a business issue.”
He praised WNBA President Lisa Borders for her achievements in advancing the visibility of the league (such as through the league’s streaming deal with Twitter), and he also complimented ESPN on its coverage of WNBA games (a statement that may raise the eyebrows of — if not enrage — some WNBA fans).
As has been covered widely already, Silver mulled the possibility of moving the WNBA season to a more “natural” season for sports — traditionally fall and winter — in an effort to draw people into the arenas. “[W]e haven’t figured out a winning formula,” Silver said. “We have a lot of empty seats in our buildings. The ratings have been decent on ESPN but it’s been harder to get people to come to the games.”
Interestingly, Silver expressed frustration about the difficulty the league has had engaging the demographic of young women ages 21-34 (the same age as many of the players), and also younger girls. “Basketball is largely supported, just in terms of demographics, by older men,” he said.
Silver and Borders have quite the task on their hands, figuring out how to “[connect] young people and [get] them interested in women’s basketball.”
Before the basketball world goes crazy with theories about the impact moving the season to a different time of year would have on arena attendance, players’ salaries and, perhaps the price of tickets, wouldn’t it be prudent to identify the causes of disinterest amongst the demographic Silver described?
Despite Silver’s claim that the struggle to generate and sustain traction for the WNBA is unrelated to Title IX, clearly deeper societal and cultural issues are at work here. After all, women’s basketball and other women’s team sports are very popular in other countries. Citizens in Russia, China and various nations across Europe and Latin America support women’s basketball.
Why is this not the case in the United States?
Individual sports like tennis and gymnastics are popular. Does the United States, from a cultural standpoint, have an issue with women working in teams (without the presence of men)?
Why do women and girls not make up the biggest portion of the WNBA fan base?
(Tell us in the comments.)
Other happenings in women’s hoops
A’ja coming up Aces
Las Vegas-bound A’ja Wilson of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks broke women’s basketball Twitter last night after being honored as the Female-Student Athlete of the Year.
Hear from @_ajawilson22 as she receives her Female Student-Athlete of the Year award! #GamecockGala @GamecockWBB— Gamecock Athletics (@GamecocksOnline) April 24, 2018
From the bottom of our garnet & black hearts, thank you! #ForeverToThee pic.twitter.com/WGj0qZoaCT
She showed off her abundant hardware from her SEC days, and women’s basketball fans wish her similar success in the pros.
The Phoenix Mercury released its 2018 WNBA season schedule (to the glee of fans the world over, but especially those who shout down the house at Talking Stick Arena).
Can’t wait for the WNBA preseason to start May 6?
Not to worry — the USA Women’s National Team has got you covered. Featuring host-city players from the Storm, like Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, and Sue Bird, Team USA takes on China in an exhibition game on Thursday. The match-up is a part of Team USA’s training camp and the game will be coached by new National Team Head Coach and Hall of Famer Dawn Staley.
If in Seattle, show up and show out!
When: Thursday April 26 at 7 p.m. PST
Where: KeyArena in Seattle, WA
Tickets: Via StormBasketball.com or by calling 206-217-9622