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Hoops Happening: A special PASS THE GAS CAN edition, to take a stand

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Reporting on the beautiful inferno that was last night’s #WNBATwitter. Plus, Players of the Week, All-Star voting, injury updates, links and more. This is today in women’s basketball for Tuesday June 19, 2018!

Super Rugby Rd 15 - Jaguares v Sharks Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

UPDATED

Since the time of original publication, the NBA/WNBA has issued A response from the league on Tuesday’s column.


The rumblings of frustration have always been there, beneath the surface. But with Twitter and other social media platforms, people are able to air their grievances and have them received by a vast audience in mere seconds. For players, coaches and fans of the WNBA — and, yes, for journalists covering the league as well — Twitter has allowed for widespread exposure of the ways gender-based discrimination negatively impacts the league. And it is never more effective than when players and coaches enter the fray to call it like they see it.

Monday night in #WNBATwitter was no joke, with some of the league’s biggest stars weighing in on issues that affect professional basketball players in this country, yes, but ultimately are concerns that spill far outside the lines of the basketball court — affecting all women, but especially women of color.

Liz Cambage, on vast pay gap between WNBA and NBA players

Cambage’s comments are clear enough. But for anyone who still doesn’t get it, a below-average player in the NBA can earn more for warming the bench for his superstar teammates than an entire WNBA team combined, including superstar players, who play every possession at the highest level.

Skylar Diggins-Smith calls out erasure

This tweet from Twitter Moments casts these collegiate basketball players as some kind of trailblazers with PUMA, identifying them as as the first basketball players to sign with the company since the late 1990’s ... as if Skylar Diggins-Smith, who has been a PUMA sports model for a while now, doesn’t even exist.

Not only does she exist, she is an actual professional basketball superstar playing the best basketball of her career. Diggins-Smith continues to lead the league in scoring and has remained in the top three in assists all season. For context, Diggins-Smith is outscoring Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle-Donne (both of whom were named Players of the Week for games played through Sunday June 18), reigning MVP Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.

Maybe PUMA should up its ad game to more strongly feature Diggins-Smith, who is flat-out outgunning these male children.

Unfriendly skies of WNBA air travel

Research has proved, in study of collegiate basketball players, that back-to-back games across time zones lead to slower reaction times, which lead to injuries. Thus, all professional basketball players in this country are prone to heightened chance of injury based on the team schedule. But certainly anyone who has endured commercial travel at an average height can agree that time wasted in boarding lines, and hours sitting in cramped seats, could be detrimental to athletes, but especially very tall ones.

Even embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt sought to lease a private jet with our tax dollars to avoid flying commercial. (Yes, EPA — as in Environmental Protection Agency, as in a private jet for one man and staff would do the opposite of protect the environment ... )

Overall context

The beautiful Monday night inferno on #WNBATwitter included lamentations of the WNBA Store by noted sports journalist Howard Megdal, for failing to produce an item he purchased now one-third of the way into the 2018 season. But it comes on the heels of an injury-filled weekend, too, where on-the-road teams saw their losses pile up (see: Connecticut Sun) and their stars go down with injury (see: Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun).

But that’s not all.

WNBA writers, including some of us at Swish Appeal, spoke out over the weekend about our struggles to find current photographs of players for our stories in the big-media databases we are licensed to use. No, a photo of Skylar Diggins-Smith in a Tulsa Shock uniform is not acceptable, especially when she’s the leading scorer in the league, and especially when photos of any NBA leading scorer would be one game old at most (which I know from covering the Golden State Warriors for three years).

A more recent photo of Diggins-Smith at an awards show also will not do for stories about her on-court performances in games played during the 2018 WNBA season. Likewise, it will not do that many of the photos we have access to are of players on the court in uniform with their collegiate teams. So again, no! A photo of Chiney Ogwumike on the court for Stanford will not do when the coverage is about her play for the Connecticut Sun.

Finally, the straw that seemed to have snapped the camel’s back for some came from the WNBA website and Twitter account. A story previewing Sunday’s matchup between the Phoenix Mercury and Las Vegas Aces included a lead image of Jasmine Thomas of the Connecticut Sun, who the Mercury had played the night before. Perhaps it can be assumed that the person preparing the story saw the color orange and ran with it (a color also in Phoenix’s uniforms), failing to notice that Jasmine Thomas plays for the Sun.

Anyone should find these issues to be unacceptable, given that they are so easy to correct. So, why hasn’t the investment been made so far? There are many devoted WNBA writers seeking employment opportunities, even on a freelance/contract basis. Considering that the NBA is a billion-dollar industry — and the cost of employing a few people who know about the league (and, most importantly, are invested in its success) would require minimal financial resources in relation — how can anyone justify letting another week pass without taking swift action?

A writer at a different publication mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago that season team stats were inaccurate on the WNBA website. A screenshot was included with the tweet, and this is an issue Swish Appeal writers have faced all season as well. But in addition to standings, there have been issues with box scores not being provided during games or being severely delayed.

Clearly, inaccurate or missing information — from stats and box scores to photos — is not the way to woo fans to the WNBA.

So, can players, coaches, journalists and fans count on the league to fix some of these issues? Will they realize that people want to support the WNBA but sometimes can’t, given challenges that thwart their attempts?

Will the league leaders please release some bobbleheads already?!


Players of the week

Here’s how they got it done.

Several candidates who did not make the final cut for Player of the Week honors must be recognized for their outstanding play as well. They are: Angel McCoughtry, Jasmine Thomas, Liz Cambage, A’ja Wilson, Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.


Next up on the court

WNBA game action resumes tonight with a stacked schedule of five games.

Stay tuned for previews!


All-Star voting opens at 2 p.m. EST!

Get your tweeter fingers ready ...

And here are the details on the new format.


Injury updates

Last week’s Player of the Week in the East, Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream, went down with a left ankle injury over the weekend in a game against the Fever in Indiana.

She and teammate Brittney Sykes, who has missed a few games with an injury to her right foot, are both listed as questionable for the Dream’s matchup tonight against the Liberty in New York ... which is surprising, considering the nature of the injuries. There’s still a lot of season left, so hopefully Sykes and Hayes won’t but nudged back onto the court too soon.

Of the other weekend injuries, Stefanie Mavunga was not listed on the Indiana Fever injury report for tonight’s contest against the Sparks in LA. It is yet to be seen whether this was an error of omission. No updates have been provided thus far on the Sun’s Chiney Ogwumike (knee) or Alyssa Thomas (shoulder), but Connecticut does not play again until Friday.


Link lush


Scorching the status quo

The South Korean soccer team is using racism to their advantage in their pursuit of World Cup victory.


How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. * flicker flicker *