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Sue Bird on the unpopularity of WNBA
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jmvcity



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 2:40 pm    ::: Sue Bird on the unpopularity of WNBA Reply Reply with quote

Discuss.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/17/sport/sue-bird-megan-rapinoe-wnba-spt-intl/index.html


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PostPosted: 10/19/20 2:56 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bird really made sure to sell “the league is black”..



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 3:10 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The height thing is easy to lose track of when you don't see them side by side. Bird, who is on the small end of WNBA players, would be one of the biggest players in the NWSL. Sam Mewis, at 5'11, is the tallest field player the USWNT has ever had. The tallest player in the world cup for any country was 6'2 Wendie Renard of France.



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 7:07 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
The height thing is easy to lose track of when you don't see them side by side. Bird, who is on the small end of WNBA players, would be one of the biggest players in the NWSL. Sam Mewis, at 5'11, is the tallest field player the USWNT has ever had. The tallest player in the world cup for any country was 6'2 Wendie Renard of France.


I mean, she's the second shortest player on her team, and she towers over her girlfriend.



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 8:44 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Great video. Bird is terrific both on and off the court.



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 8:48 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

She’s comparing apples with oranges - the WNBA versus the attendance and excitement for the women’s National Team in a year when there is a world competition. The WNBA started in 1997. Women’s pro soccer is on their 3rd pro league since then. WUSA 2001-2003, WPS 2007-2012 and now the NWSL since 2012. The NWSL has 9 teams. So women’s pro soccer is not booming versus the WNBA.

If she is also comparing the difference in hoopla among girls for the respective National Teams , that could be because more of them play soccer when they are pre high school. I can’t find the stats right now, but the phrase is “soccer mom”.

And since the NBA is also mostly black and the stars are mostly black and it is hugely successful in the same country, Americans not wanting to watch black athletes as a reason for the WNBA not booming doesn’t seem to work.


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PostPosted: 10/19/20 9:29 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

tfan wrote:
She’s comparing apples with oranges - the WNBA versus the attendance and excitement for the women’s National Team in a year when there is a world competition. The WNBA started in 1997. Women’s pro soccer is on their 3rd pro league since then. WUSA 2001-2003, WPS 2007-2012 and now the NWSL since 2012. The NWSL has 9 teams. So women’s pro soccer is not booming versus the WNBA.

If she is also comparing the difference in hoopla among girls for the respective National Teams , that could be because more of them play soccer when they are pre high school. I can’t find the stats right now, but the phrase is “soccer mom”.

And since the NBA is also mostly black and the stars are mostly black and it is hugely successful in the same country, Americans not wanting to watch black athletes as a reason for the WNBA not booming doesn’t

seem to work.


Black women. Who aren’t naked.



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Davis4632



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PostPosted: 10/19/20 10:04 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

mavcarter wrote:
Bird really made sure to sell “the league is black”..


And gay. She made that an emphasis as just much as she did black.


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PostPosted: 10/19/20 10:51 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Cooper2009 wrote:
tfan wrote:
She’s comparing apples with oranges...

And since the NBA is also mostly black and the stars are mostly black and it is hugely successful in the same country, Americans not wanting to watch black athletes as a reason for the WNBA not booming doesn’t seem to work.


Black women. Who aren’t naked.


+1. Imo that's a really important distinction.

But putting aside the demographic comparison between the two women's sports for a second, let's not forget: Female soccer players in this country don't have their male counterparts' accomplishments & reputation towering over them at every angle. American male soccer players are inferior when compared to their international competition. It's the opposite for American female soccer players – the NWSL can truly be marketed as featuring the "Best in the World", whereas the MLS cannot.

No matter how many NBA stars shower praise on the women's game, the NBA will always be the big brother (well, really, the parent) to the WNBA. Every sensible person would acknowledge that. But the haters that don't even give the W a chance will always use that as their sticking point as to why they'll always turn their noses at the W. It's a shame. Some of them would probably enjoy it if it weren't so societally "taboo" to like/support the WNBA. Rolling Eyes



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 1:59 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Cooper2009 wrote:
tfan wrote:

And since the NBA is also mostly black and the stars are mostly black and it is hugely successful in the same country, Americans not wanting to watch black athletes as a reason for the WNBA not booming doesn’t seem to work.


Black women. Who aren’t naked.


What does "who aren't naked" refer to?


Cooper2009



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 6:28 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

tfan wrote:
Cooper2009 wrote:
tfan wrote:

And since the NBA is also mostly black and the stars are mostly black and it is hugely successful in the same country, Americans not wanting to watch black athletes as a reason for the WNBA not booming doesn’t seem to work.


Black women. Who aren’t naked.


What does "who aren't naked" refer to?


The fact that the black female body unfortunately has 0 value in American Society outside of being for sexual pleasure. Because it’s a league filled with black women it’s easy to demean and diminish their accomplishments because outside of their male counterparts in the court, how many Americans are standing up for them? Or any other black woman? (Hello Breonna Taylor). For that reason many times black women are dismissed or as is the case for the W undervalued.



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 6:08 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The WNBA faces the triple challenge of our culture's so often intertwined sexism, racism, and homophobia. The NBA faces only one of those challenges (racism) since it's still the case that all gay, bisexual, or transgender NBA players are closeted.



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 8:37 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

tfan wrote:
If she is also comparing the difference in hoopla among girls for the respective National Teams , that could be because more of them play soccer when they are pre high school. I can’t find the stats right now, but the phrase is “soccer mom”.

I would argue a lot of it is because the USWNT plays more frequently and in higher-profile competitions. The USA Basketball women more or less play every two years, and our version of the World Cup has a way smaller footprint than the soccer version across genders. So basically people remember the U.S. women dominate international basketball only when the Olympics roll around.


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PostPosted: 10/20/20 8:52 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Davis4632 wrote:
mavcarter wrote:
Bird really made sure to sell “the league is black”..


And gay. She made that an emphasis as just much as she did black.


Is "gay" or "lesbian" the right way to characterize an alleged lack of viewer connection? Sue Wicks after she retired in 2002, Michelle Van Gorp maybe right before she left the league. Can't think of many players who were out before the 2010s. So fans had no certainty of whether the players were lesbian or not. And I doubt they would have guessed the percentage is as high as it is. Seems like it is about being "butch" versus "lesbian", that is, their look, muscularity and behavior, not their sexual preference. I don't know that a league of straight women like Lindsay Whalen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin would have better attendance.

But female football, volleyball and softball leagues have struggled to get going (although none have a rich men's league backing them) . So the long pole in the tent may just be that they are women and men and women prefer to watch men play sports.




Last edited by tfan on 10/20/20 9:23 pm; edited 3 times in total
Bob Lamm



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 9:19 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

tfan wrote:
Is "gay" or "lesbian" the right way to characterize an alleged lack of viewer connection? Sue Wicks after she retired in 2002, Michelle Van Gorp maybe right before she left the league. Can't think of many players who were out before the 2010s. So fans had no certainty of whether the players were lesbian or not. And I doubt they would have guessed the percentage is as high as it is. Seems like it is about being "butch" or "masculine" versus "lesbian", that is, their look and behavior, not their sexual preference. I don't know that a league of straight women like Lindsay Whalen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin would have better attendance.


So wrong. So profoundly wrong.



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PostPosted: 10/20/20 11:43 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bob Lamm wrote:
The WNBA faces the triple challenge of our culture's so often intertwined sexism, racism, and homophobia. The NBA faces only one of those challenges (racism) since it's still the case that all gay, bisexual, or transgender NBA players are closeted.


This is a conversation that needs to be had.



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PostPosted: 10/21/20 12:47 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Cooper2009 wrote:
Bob Lamm wrote:
The WNBA faces the triple challenge of our culture's so often intertwined sexism, racism, and homophobia. The NBA faces only one of those challenges (racism) since it's still the case that all gay, bisexual, or transgender NBA players are closeted.


This is a conversation that needs to be had.


Yes indeed. And thank you for every word you've written in this thread.



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PostPosted: 10/21/20 3:18 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bob Lamm wrote:
The WNBA faces the triple challenge of our culture's so often intertwined sexism, racism, and homophobia. The NBA faces only one of those challenges (racism) since it's still the case that all gay, bisexual, or transgender NBA players are closeted.


This pretty much says it all ...

And no amount of marketing can change it ...



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Luuuc
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PostPosted: 10/21/20 8:41 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

ClayK wrote:
Bob Lamm wrote:
The WNBA faces the triple challenge of our culture's so often intertwined sexism, racism, and homophobia. The NBA faces only one of those challenges (racism) since it's still the case that all gay, bisexual, or transgender NBA players are closeted.


This pretty much says it all ...

And no amount of marketing can change it ...


At least the league is now being more true to itself (as SB pointed out that it needed to be) rather than trying to push a false version of itself like it did in the past. That wasn't fooling anyone.
Being real is way more engaging. Yes it's also unpalatable for a lot of people, but as Clay says those people aren't going to be swayed by anything, so don't even consider them when planning marketing strategies.
It's pretty obvious to any of us fans what the WNBA is up against. Strong built-into-society barriers that can only be slowly chipped away at over time. They're not getting knocked over any time soon, especially not by the type of miniscule effort that the WNBA can afford.
2020 would obviously have been a financial disaster for the league, but I feel like it was a win from a PR & respect standpoint.



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PostPosted: 10/21/20 9:04 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Luuuc wrote:
At least the league is now being more true to itself (as SB pointed out that it needed to be) rather than trying to push a false version of itself like it did in the past. That wasn't fooling anyone.
Being real is way more engaging. Yes it's also unpalatable for a lot of people, but as Clay says those people aren't going to be swayed by anything, so don't even consider them when planning marketing strategies.
It's pretty obvious to any of us fans what the WNBA is up against. Strong built-into-society barriers that can only be slowly chipped away at over time. They're not getting knocked over any time soon, especially not by the type of miniscule effort that the WNBA can afford.
2020 would obviously have been a financial disaster for the league, but I feel like it was a win from a PR & respect standpoint.


Right on the mark.



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PostPosted: 10/22/20 12:49 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bob Lamm wrote:
tfan wrote:
Is "gay" or "lesbian" the right way to characterize an alleged lack of viewer connection? Sue Wicks after she retired in 2002, Michelle Van Gorp maybe right before she left the league. Can't think of many players who were out before the 2010s. So fans had no certainty of whether the players were lesbian or not. And I doubt they would have guessed the percentage is as high as it is. Seems like it is about being "butch" or "masculine" versus "lesbian", that is, their look and behavior, not their sexual preference. I don't know that a league of straight women like Lindsay Whalen and Taj McWilliams-Franklin would have better attendance.


So wrong. So profoundly wrong.


Yeah... what the flying fuck was that last line supposed to even mean? It reads as though you are calling out Whalen and McWilliams-Franklin for not being feminine enough?!?


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PostPosted: 10/23/20 11:00 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Cooper2009 wrote:
tfan wrote:
What does "who aren't naked" refer to?


The fact that the black female body unfortunately has 0 value in American Society outside of being for sexual pleasure. Because it’s a league filled with black women it’s easy to demean and diminish their accomplishments


The countless discussions of Serena Williams' physique by coaches of opposing players, media/sports journalists, sports fans and the viewing public -- and the degrading racist and sexist comments made about Serena's frame and musculature -- are great evidence of this.

Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player in history, a top candidate for overall tennis GOAT (male or female) in history, and a top candidate for overall GOAT in terms of female athletes in any sport.

Yet there was a time when Serena, over 30 years of age and amidst a massive career resurgence, when it was revealed that Maria Sharapova -- a white, blonde, leggy Russian tennis player who, at the time, was 2-18 against Serena, had not won against Serena since 2004, and who had won a total of one SET against Serena since 2008 -- earned $10 million more per year in endorsements than Serena.
    Between June 2014 and June 2015, Sharapova earned $23 million off the court from appearances and sponsors Nike, Head, Samsung Electronics, Evian and Tag Heuer.
    Between June 2014 and June 2015, Serena earned $13 million off the court from appearances and partners Nike, Wilson, PepsiCo , Chase and Audemars Piguet.

Race, corporate bias, likability and beauty are all part of the discussion in why, during this 2014-2015 period, Sharapova earned almost twice as much as Serena from endorsements and appearances, despite only one-quarter the singles Grand Slam wins at the time (an even lower percentage for Sharapova now).

An athlete's perceived attractiveness can also impact their endorsement value, as can demographic factors such as what audience does the athlete cater to...and does that audience have preferences to see spokespeople who they better connect with.

And how have people characterized Serena Williams?
Here is a sampling from 2014/2015, when she was not just winning 4 consecutive GS titles and attempting to win the calendar year Grand Slam (which has only occurred three times in the Open Era, two by women and one by men, and not at all since 1988), but also threatening Graf's record of 22 GS titles in the Open Era, but also Court's total of 24 GS titles:
    On the eve of Serena’s win in the Wimbledon final, the New York Times published an article by contributing writer Ben Rothenberg titled, "Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image with Ambition." The article seemingly criticized Serena’s physique in comparison to the non-black women on the WTA Tour who make it a point to not mirror her frame, regardless of whether it could bring more success on the court. “Williams has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to,” wrote Rothenberg.
    And let us not forget the years of message board posts, tweets, and social media commentary about Serena that are beyond offensive and degrading, ranging from PED/steroid speculation to gorilla references to implications that Serena was born a male or is really a man.
Instead of praising Serena for her muscular physique, mental fortitude and will to win, crushing physicality on court, and her form/technique (her perfect, textbook technique on her serve, which, combined with its power, makes it the best in the history of the game; her forehand and backhand are among the top-2/3 of all-time), she has faced a ridiculous among of body shaming, sexism, and racism, both from the media and from fans.


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PostPosted: 10/23/20 11:14 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

When it comes to endorsements, a lot of that is based on overseas markets. European and Asian consumers are far less receptive to black spokespersons than Americans.



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 11:18 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
When it comes to endorsements, a lot of that is based on overseas markets. European and Asian consumers are far less receptive to black spokespersons than Americans.


I can believe that this is true, but nevertheless we should never underplay racism in the United States. Including in the tennis world, which has its own distinctive, ugly history.



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 3:19 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

OTOH the WNBA is on television, it is referenced often by other great athletes (specifically referring to the NBA players who respect and appreciate it), it is on actual television. I didn't even know there was a pro women's soccer league in the US until I googles it. Even if it is sometimes being made fun of I have seen it on other pop culture outlets whether it be SNL, the news in relationship to its social activism, Disney channel, MTV, etc. I would guess the average sports fan could name a few WNBA players, I am not so sure it is the same with soccer, I can only think of Rapinoe, Hamm and Morgan off the top of my head and I don't even know if Hamm is playing anymore.

Yes when the US Women's soccer team is in the World Cup or Olympics they get a lot of attention but I think the WNBA is probably more well known day to day, year to year than women's soccer.

The W is always going to be fighting an uphill battle for respect and market share, but it is pretty well established at this point as a thing, and I could be wrong but it feels like it is growing, at least in terms of cultural awareness and respectability.


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