An Identity Crisis

By Richard Kent
Updated: July 27, 2008

WNBA BrawlingCONNECTICUT — It was on ESPN. It really was. The morning talk shows were talking about the WNBA. The anonymous league that has to use gimmicks like putting 50-year old-Nancy Lieberman in a uniform in Detroit was being talked about in relationship to a brawl that saw Rick Mahorn actually push a player.

That’s about 100 extra pounds there, isn’t it.

In any event even though the League talks about attendance being way up, people just don’t talk about a women’s basketball league in the Summer with scoring often times in the 50′s or 60′s.

There is an exception there in Phoenix and congratulations to them. A well known male women’s basketball coach who is not in Connecticut recently told me that he just can’t watch the WNBA.

It is simply too boring for his taste.

He has tried on many occasions, but has not gotten there yet. But was ready to talk about the brawl, not because he saw it, but because he read about it. What are the reasons.

There are way too many to even chronicle.

First of all, there are only small pockets of popularity for the far more interesting women’s college basketball. Places like Knoxville, Iowa City, New Brunswick, Storrs, Austin, etc.

How is it possible that there isn’t a WNBA team in Knoxville. Seattle, but not Knoxville. It makes no sense. Why is there no territorial draft in the WNBA like there once was in the NBA?

I asked David Stern about that and he just scoffed. Should Sue Bird be in Seattle or New York? Seems like a no brainer. Would the WNBA really make it on its own without the huge subsidy that the NBA is throwing in on an annual basis?

It’s hard to say.

The League does little if anything to cater to a very critical demographic of 20 to 50-year-old men. I went to the very well done outdoor women’s in New York game an could not count 10 men in that age group that were there without their families.

There were 19,000 were in attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The money really is not that good for players and pales in comparison to Europe. So often times you have players arriving in training camp in May right before the season starts after having played a full season in Europe for real money.

Take a look at the NCAA, WNBA. See what they are doing.

Put together a territorial draft that would keep UConn and Rutgers players in New York and Connecticut. The Liberty had it right there when they took Essence Carson of Rutgers in the first round and then utilized the Rutgers mailing list to put a few more people in the stands.

There are some great fans of women’s college basketball and I am one of them.

Find a way to get them into the WNBA stands.