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Hoops Happening: Today in women’s basketball (and beyond) — Tuesday June 5, 2018

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WNBA dominates all leagues in celebrating Pride month. Plus, two bigs get Player of the Week nods. And we have links for days and a strong take on smashing the status quo of gender discrimination.

WNBA

June is Pride Month and the WNBA is leading the way among sports leagues and other big businesses in advocating inclusiveness and equality. The WNBA is the only sports league in which all teams are recognizing the LGBTQ community by hosting a Pride night.

WNBA Pride Night Schedule | Outsports

In addition to each team holding a Pride night, the WNBA is selling WNBA Pride merchandise, including t-shirts and hats. All proceeds go to GLSEN: an organization that has been “championing LGBTQ issues in K-12 education since 1990,” with a chief goal to “create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

ESPN2 will air five games with teams celebrating WNBA Pride. And, as with previous years, the league will have a float in the NYC Pride Parade, which takes places on June 24 this year.

Of the festivities, WNBA President Lisa Borders said, “The WNBA is thrilled to unite with our players, teams, partners and fans during Pride Month to amplify our shared values of equality, inclusion and respect. Honoring the WNBA’s diverse community is always a highlight of our season.”

Game recaps

There were no games on Monday.


Players of the week

And, the winners are ...

East — Tina Charles, New York Liberty

West — Liz Cambage, Dallas Wings

Here are the players’ best highlights from the past week.

Congrats to the bigs!

Also, it must be recognized that there were several players with beast-mode performances last week and were candidates for Player of the Week nods. These players include: Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Cheyenne Parker (Chicago Sky), Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut Sun), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings), A’Ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) and Kristi Toliver (Washington Mystics).


Links Appeal

  • Diana Taurasi is one or two buckets away from another major milestone: 8,000 points. She can do it with a three-pointer, and she’ll get her chance today!
  • The Sun are sizzling the rest of the league alive in all aspects of the game. Which team is most likely to be a cold snap and hand Connecticut their first loss of the season?
  • While the bigs are getting a ton of attention this season, it’d be a mistake to dismiss the prowess of the guards. Cases in point: Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd, who have been scoring monsters all season. Here’s a great breakdown of their games.
  • Defensive specialist Dan Hughes, head coach of the Seattle Storm, shared insights on what it’s like to coach a high-offense team.
  • Coming off a 34-point game that propelled the Liberty to a win over the Wings, Player of the Week Tina Charles gave a major S/O to teammate Kia Nurse, who had a dominant game of her own just days later, putting up 34 points of her own.
  • With Liz Cambage and Assistant Coach Erin Phillips, the Dallas Wings are locking up the Aussie contingent.
  • For Cayla George and Liz Cambage, it’s reunited and it feels so good.
  • WNBA graphic artists are amazing, and it’s a good thing when one of them has called on peers to do work for WNBA teams. Check out the cool graphics!

Scorching the status quo

“There’s a law in America that says you cannot discriminate based on gender, but we still have discrimination everywhere you look.”

Those are the words of soccer star Hope Solo, who stated in a recent interview that she would like to see more women stand up for equal pay, but that many women avoid doing so for fear of backlash. She said she felt like an “outcast” when she started speaking forcefully with demands that women soccer players be paid equal to men, especially given that female players have been much more successful than their male counterparts.

Solo is not alone.

I, too, feel bewildered by the willingness of society to settle for a status quo that discriminates against half of the human race in every facet of life, from pay to visibility. Last week, I wrote about commentator Mark Jackson’s abysmal effort to provide any relevant commentary on the WNBA during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the key points of this article were missed by the reading audience.

First, I made a mistake, which became a distraction. But I held myself accountable for the error, corrected it quickly and issued an apology to all parties involved, both publicly and privately. But the second issue is that readers seemed to feel slighted that their favorite players were not on the “8 WHO ARE PLAYING GREAT” list that is included in the story. Jackson had been asked to identify players who are having MVP-caliber performances so far this WNBA season and he couldn’t do so. So, I created a list of players who playing incredibly well, surrounded by context that it’s too early in the season to be discussing MVP candidacy (which is why the title of the list does not include the term “MVP”). The point was to illustrate the ways mainstream sports media marginalizes women’s team sports — making them an afterthought worthy of neither time nor attention.

Next, the piece included screenshots of mainstream sports media websites to illustrate the point that most outlets are willing to cover literally anything else but women’s team sports. A goose on a baseball field, a spelling bee game and mascot getting pelted in the nuts with a baseball were all fodder for front-page news at these publications, but not a single story about any one of the many dominant performances fans and dedicated sports journalists have been witnessing in this WNBA season. The managing editor of one such publication replied on Twitter with apparent displeasure that her site was singled out. Well, her site was not singled out, and neither was the other one mentioned in the piece. Because of word-count limitations, I could not include additional examples to illustrate the way mainstream sports media denies women’s team sports front-page coverage, but gladly puts sports that are not in season and other random shit (mascots, spelling bees and geese) on the front page instead.

The managing editor who responded on Twitter, who happens to be a woman, justified her site’s treatment of women’s team sports with what amounts to a “well, everyone else does it this way too” defense. My reply to her was to point out that this is precisely the problem. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it okay. It wasn’t acceptable that African Americans couldn’t sit down at a lunch counter because all the other restaurant owners were denying them this ability. It wasn’t acceptable that African Americans were forced to ride at the back of the bus because a bunch of other bus drivers demanded this. It wasn’t acceptable that African Americans were brought here as slaves, just because a few colonizers thought it was a good idea. It wasn’t acceptable that women were denied the right to vote for so very long, and denied access to the workplace, just because men in power said so.

Yes, the nation has made a bunch of strides but still we see the scourge of racism and sexism every day. And the fact remains that discrimination based on gender has become so normalized that even women accept it as normal. Imagine going to ESPN.com and seeing only white athletes, with coverage of black athletes buried under a More ... menu. Given the number of dominant black athletes out there, people wouldn’t stand for it. They’d call for boycotts and demand firings. Yet, this is the very same thing that happens to female athletes, usually in team sports, and no one sees it as an issue.

I see the problem, and I will continue to address it because I refuse to accept this brazen, normalized discrimination against women — even if it makes me an outcast. Women deserve equal pay as well as equal media coverage and visibility, and I will use all tools at my disposal to continue to advocate for change.

I am willing to hold myself accountable when I’ve erred. It’s time mainstream sports media and all employers start to do the same.

In other news ...

  • Cheerleaders sue the Houston Texans over sexual harassment and other abusive behavior.
  • Serena Williams pulled out of the French Open because of a pectoral injury. We hope she’s alright and able to compete again soon, but it’s kind of a relief that the media will now turn away from the non-existent Williams-Sharapova rivalry, which is based not on wins in matches the two have played (Williams’ 18 to Sharapova’s 2) but a beauty standard that gives weight to appearance, talent skills and accomplishment.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the “horrific” Sterling Brown video. When will citizens speaking out — public figures as well as average folks — translate into change?
  • In news of the petty and dictatorial, the Philadelphia Eagles were notified by press release that they are not welcome at the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. So, for the NFL, it turns out capitulating to a bully and violating players’ constitutional rights wasn’t quite the way to go. Shocker.
  • Women’s soccer player abstains from Pride activities because of her Christian faith. Faith and conviction are admirable, but what about tolerance and compassion for the marginalized?
  • Detroit Pistons are reportedly interviewing Jason Kidd for the head coaching position. How interesting, considering his unimpressive coaching record to date. It’s doubtful that a woman with the same record would be considered.


How to #WatchThemWork all season


Shine brighter. C’mon! You can do it. * flicker flicker *