I recent read an article saying the WNBA needs to have more drama to be relevant. Here is why this is wrong.
I know I am going to get people reading this headline and telling me that my opinion is not valid. Usually the words are stronger but I will not stoop to this level. I will, however, explain my stance. I am an NBA fan, have been for years but I watch the games knowing that the league is an excitement league, yes it is basketball but there are too many NBA specific rules.
The NBA has systematically changed the rules of the game to get more and more fans involved, utilizing the athleticism of their players to do this. Adding a third step when someone is driving to the hoop, banning the zone defense, allowing the ball to be passed off the backboard to themselves and extending the game to 48 minutes. All of these rules cater to the players abilities and gets fans involved.
Fortunately, the WNBA caters to a niche market, the true basketball fan. Why on earth would you change that. It is a league where you have to rely on your skill so much more than your athleticism and therefore in my opinion, more enjoyable to watch. That and they follow the international rules of basketball meaning the average fan can relate in some small part to what they do.
Let’s stop trying to make the WNBA follow the same path as the NBA. The NBA is a totally different league, a totally different ballgame. Let’s appreciate the WNBA for what it is. This talk of casting the villain, capitalising on rivalries like the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx is not what the league needs.
What the league needs more than anything else is exposure. President Lisa Borders is doing an amazing job of this. The partnerships she has developed with ESPN and Twitter are inspired. The fact the League Pass is affordable means the WNBA is in houses around the world where the NBA cannot be? The cross-promotion with some of the top NBA players has to be helping. I have previously called on all bloggers, media outlets and Corporate America to get behind the WNBA.
For me, however, there needs to be another layer to this exposure. A layer where the players also become ambassadors for the game on social media. I am lucky enough to be able to coherently put my thoughts to print. I am also lucky that when my thoughts go to print I have the social media platforms so others can read them. Imagine my surprise when one day, this keyboard warrior had one of his articles liked by the person it was about, Sami Whitcomb.
I was over the moon, one of the WNBA elite had paused in her day to look at something I had done. Needless to say, this inspired me to write more. How could I not. I was then followed by Carly Wilson, a player I have watched for years in the WNBL and the Australian National Team.
However, when Elena Delle Donne liked a number of my posts, I was in heaven. The best player in the entire WNBA had noticed the work I was doing. My page views went up, again, why would they not? But the best was yet to come.
The entire WNBA playing group needs to take a look at Imani Boyette and how she conducts herself on social media. Boyette, as a player is quite good, still in need of a little polish but has massive upside. Every time she retweets an article however, that article is viewed by so many more people. She engages with her fans, and is certainly not offensive (looking at you Lou Williams).
Every time Boyette retweets, she encourages another member of the keyboard warrior brigade to write another article. Every article that gets written is a chance of being read by a casual basketball fan. Every casual basketball fan who reads the article is a chance of becoming a fully fledged WNBA fan.
The other aspect to this social media campaign which will take the WNBA into the stratosphere where it deserves to be is the belief and dignity of players like Kelsey Plum. This season has not turned out like Plum and many other had expected. I am on record saying I believe Plum will change the very game of the WNBA. She is one of the few ball dominant guards in the league and when she is allowed to run a team the way it suits her game, look out.
However, it is the tireless campaigning of this rookie for the WNBA to be viewed as a league in its own rights, rather than the little sister of the NBA which will benefit the league. The WNBA is not a women’s basketball league. It is a basketball league for women, there is a difference. With the exception of the NBA and their rule changes, basketball is played by both genders to the same rules. The WNBA is a basketball league.
Another WNBA superstar, Maya Moore said it best when she said the WNBA is a family and we hope the family grows. With the efforts of Boyette, Plum and all the rest of the league, hopefully the family will grow. This league is not in trouble like some pundits would have you believe. This league is growing and I want to be there doing my part.