Why WNBA stars struggle to build a brand

This piece is right on:

Not to mention, the WNBA’s image is not one that’s easily embraced, noted WNBA stylist Rachel Johnson. The sport is seen as aggressive and masculine, which makes the players themselves less desirable when it comes to attracting image-conscious brands.

“From a sports perspective, these women holler, scream, sweat and aren’t posing when they play, so they aren’t going to look their best,” said Johnson, who is hired by the WNBA to help players with styling and makeup lessons. “It’s not easy to be a woman in that place.”

Society still rewards athletes that fit with traditional standards of feminine beauty, added ESPN columnist Kate Fagan. This is why many basketball players who don’t fit into that mold have trouble breaking landing deals…..

This is true.

Not to mention, the WNBA’s image is not one that’s easily embraced, noted WNBA stylist Rachel Johnson. The sport is seen as aggressive and masculine, which makes the players themselves less desirable when it comes to attracting image-conscious brands.

“From a sports perspective, these women holler, scream, sweat and aren’t posing when they play, so they aren’t going to look their best,” said Johnson, who is hired by the WNBA to help players with styling and makeup lessons. “It’s not easy to be a woman in that place.”

Society still rewards athletes that fit with traditional standards of feminine beauty, added ESPN columnist Kate Fagan. This is why many basketball players who don’t fit into that mold have trouble breaking landing deals.

“The fundamental thing you have to remember is that the WNBA started way after men’s basketball was established. Women’s basketball is below the rim, and it takes a certain type of fan to want to watch that,” Parham said. “The Michael Jordans of the league defined the way the sport was played, and only a few female players even dunk during games. Then you add in sexist issues, like people struggling to consume women in powerful positions and the notion that female basketball players can’t be beautiful.”

Yes.

“Going overseas pulls them out of sight in the US market, but the opportunity is huge: Why would they stay here if they can make four times their salary?” Parham said. “Yes, they want to promote themselves, but they also want to make money and live life. You can’t knock a player for that.”

Best summary of the problem that I’ve read yet.

So the question is, can these issues be overcome to grow the fan base?

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1 COMMENT

  1. Honest piece, but I'm resigned to the fact that fans just want to be entertained and have a grand ole time watching these women play, feminine or not, straight or not. The league is too cutthroat, the season too short, and the money too good overseas for anyone to invest anymore than they need to. As Diana said on Media Day she's not here for the money, she's representing for America. And perhaps that's part of the W's charm — that it will always be purer than male team sports that are constantly tainted by big dollars.

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