A little statistics, a little observation

Hello from sunny Los Angeles!

I’m a former newspaper reporter turned personal trainer turned high school P.E. teacher, who has been writing since the age of 5. I have been a women’s basketball fan since the age of 12, and 29 years later, the sport is still one of the handful of things I am extremely passionate about. Thus, the impetus for beginning this blog.

Like a million others, I blog on my myspace page, and a private journal. Everyone has an opinion and a perspective. But “They’re Playing Basketball” (named for the old Kurtis Blow song by the same name) will bring research into the mix, as well. There are numerous issues facing girl’s and women’s basketball as it continues to evolve, and it’s important to look at those and address them, in addition to being a passionate fan.

TPB will also be all-inclusive. Rather than focusing on just one aspect of the game, this blog will keep track of and address significant happenings in the high school, collegiate and professional women’s basketball worlds. Each level is an important part of the game. (And if readers know of a player/team/issue in any of those areas that needs to be addressed, contact me…)

This blog is meant for the complete hoophead! And these days, that is a year-round job.

In laying the groundwork for this blog, I begun a thread on the rebkell board (see links list) recently, asking members what made them a women’s basketball fan. Though I asked why they were women’s basketball fans, the responses of many indicate they were thinking only in terms of the WNBA, which is unfortunate. The vast majority of the W fans on that board need to expand their vision of the sport. But the results of the survey were better than nothing.

I got 89 responses, though 15-20 of those were posters responding to something someone else said. I logged all the responses, and some people gave more than one reason in their replies, so the numbers won’t all necessarily add up to 69-74 replies. They are interesting reasons, nonetheless.

Thirteen people said that the women’s game, as opposed to the men’s game, was either “more team-oriented” or “the way I remember the game being played,” i.e. before the NBA evolved into its current superstar style. The next most popular reason for being a fan was that a parent either took them to a game as a child, or that the parent(s) was heavily into sports; 12 people gave that as their reason. Eleven people said they used to play themselves and have always loved the game; the same number of people declared that “basketball is basketball,” and that they’ll watch either men’s or women’s hoops without issue (more on that later). Nine people cited identification with the players as their reason for being a fan, which I thought was interesting. Again, more on that in a bit. “The players are hot” or pretty was given as a reason by five people, and four respondents said player personalities/passion was their reason for attending. Three people cited the community that they find at the games, and another three liked how WNBA players are accessible to fans.

The following reasons were given by two fans each: the feeling that “fans matter” at WNBA games; the good crowd and atmosphere at WNBA games; being tired of the “selfish” men’s game; and living vicariously through the players. Finally, one person cited seeing the connection between the players on women’s teams, and another respondent said he/she “accidentally” found the women’s game.

The rebkell board, and others like it, are a skewed version of reality. There you find the most rabid and knowledgeable fans of the women’s game, and there seem to be a ton of them. You leave rebkell for 30 minutes, come back, and there are 10-30 posts more on a hot topic that weren’t there when you left. You begin to forget what world you really live in. Then you go back out into it, and you remember how 1. people always assume you’re talking about men when you mention watching or going to a game 2. the general population won’t know who you’re talking about when you mention a particular female player’s name.

This is why I thought I’d begin by trying to find out what brings fans to the women’s game. If you asked fans of the men’s game why they are fans, the responses would be much different.

More on some research I found towards those questions in a bit.

– Sue F