Despite the (to me) offensive headline, the New York Times offers a pretty good analysis of the struggles of the WNBA to get a fan base:
Sue Bird, the Seattle point guard who is playing in her 14th season, said, “There’s a weird disconnect between college players and W.N.B.A. players in terms of how people view us.”
It is as if fans need to be reminded, she said, that “we’re actually the same players.”
I’ve been puzzled about this for years.
“I’m optimistic, but I’m not naïve,” said Michael Alter, the owner of the Chicago Sky. “It’s not easy to get the word out. We don’t have the support of all the free media; we have to work really hard. It’s a grind, and we’re just plugging away. But we’ve got great athletes, and we’re doing everything possible to expose them to the media.”
The small Arlington arena needed most of the first half of a preseason game between the Wings and the Connecticut Sun before the crowd appeared to reach its paid attendance of 2,326. The first regular-season home game, a victory over the San Antonio Stars in a sellout arena, was a better early indicator of local interest in the relocated team that will try to break through in a crowded market. The region features the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys and Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers, who play nearby, as well as the N.B.A.’s Dallas Mavericks and the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars.
For more than a quarter, even as the Wings took a big lead, fans were quiet, many with arms folded, as if sending a message to the players: Show me. The recorded exhortations to shout “Defense!” were not being followed. Slowly, the fans came alive. They started razzing Sun players at the free-throw line. A white-haired man jawed at the visiting team.
1. As I’ve said previously, the WNBA needs to tweet and promote EVERY SINGLE STORY about a player, team or coach in the league. They still don’t do it. They’ll tweet their own stuff and ESPN stuff, but not much else. Treat media, like myself, who love and write about the league like gold.
2. The public still needs to be educated about the game, and about athletic women in our society.
I’d be happy to help out.
3. Fans of the college game need to pay attention to the WNBA. WNBA fans need to pay attention to college ball.
I’m trying to help as hard as I can.