-A Daughters Ball-
Musical Inspiration: 🎧 Daughters by Nasir Jones
As a way to escape the jeers of an impoverished environment, I recall being a six-year-old basketball fanatic attempting to figure the best way to dominate the new game with which I had become enamored. I channeled the fundamentals that were too fast to notice in the more athletic counterpart “League” (“The L”). I took notice of the precision that Dawn Staley had in orchestrating the offense, Sherryl Swoops picking her spots to score on the elite Houston Comets squad, and Lisa Leslie dominating the paint with lovely touch from 15 to keep the defense honest. They provided a budding purest like myself with genuine basketball value. This brings me to my dilemma with the WNBA today.
"I took notice of the precision that Dawn Staley had in orchestrating the offense.."
Going forward I will attempt to narrow the focus of what is important for the “Women’s Professional Basketball Association” (“the W”) to do, as it relates to appealing to the princess in the United States and beyond whom it intends to inspire.
These great catalysts for women’s sports seem to operate under the impression that the women's association has gotten away from since its inception. The W has five months, from May to October, to put out the best quality of basketball that it can for consumers to embrace. The greats of the sport knew that in the “-ism” heavy environment of our collective society, their only shot to impress was at the onset. They have continued to encourage this play from generations thereafter that have not been short of exemplary. The player - no matter where she sits on the roster - instinctually knows and applies when to fundamentally shoot, pass, and dribble. Why would anyone not want to watch the pursuit of athletic perfection within the game of basketball?
The basketball component is just one side of a three-sided issue that has entangled the W in a perceptive vice for big league stardom, without the alleged infrastructure needed to do so. The first step to solving any problem is to evaluate what you have and what needs to be done in order to solve it.
WNBA players are awarded 30% of basketball generated income according to their collective bargaining agreement. These owners consist of six NBA owners and six private owners. With this dynamic, it has been stated ad nauseum that the league is only generating, as of 2014-2015, 35 million dollars annually. There are 132 players in the W, and countless young girls thriving to commodify themselves as members of the professional female hoops sorority which their families will surely be proud of. So is money really the issue? Or is it initiative? I believe the latter should take precedence as the new season is under way and there is another chance to capitalize on women's professional basketball. The solution lies with the philosophy of the league, the collection of owners, and the the league president. It is up to them to make it happen.
When David Stern created the WNBA in 1996, it was composed as a subsidiary of his league. With that, the ideal thought that the fans could easily transition due to WNBA teams carrying the likenesses of NBA counterpart (Houston Comets to Houston Rockets/Los Angeles Lakers to Los Angeles Sparks, etc.) with them, and thus the money would generate just like his other league, right? But when did the disconnect begin? Adam Silver, current NBA commissioner, is manifesting the legacy of another one of Stern’s seeds, Hybrid Development League relationships with NBA teams. In this dynamic, the L allows smaller D-League teams to incorporate big league business and basketball models into their small town market, building buzz for that previously untapped territory.
This particular venture is destined to expand with the influx of TV money. My naked eye also notices that once relocation occurs within the WNBA due to poor management, new identities will emerge as owners not affiliated with the Association’s global branding philosophy reinvent team identities and build on fan bases that are not in tune with the NBA’s. This diluted environment will stifle the growth of a league that began to lose ground on market share for women basketball commodities - “When another league is paying your players to not play, your League has a problem.”
The only way out of this downturn is to compensate the true assets in the players to decrease competition from other leagues. The NBA did this to an extent in 2011, following one of their many lockouts. Accurately reflecting revenue earned to properly procure players is a step in the right direction. No matter how much capital the W is generating, ensuring you have at least the talent to secure as much money as you can earn to invest in the vision that I hope the WNBA aspires to: which is to give princesses a shot at something more than always being assumed second to boys. If the reasons previously stated were not enough, just imagine hearing them from your daughter. 🎶… #HEM
Charles A. Smith Jr.
WNBAinsidr, Los Angeles