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Sue Bird on the unpopularity of WNBA
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Stormeo



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 3:49 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

J-Spoon wrote:
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...

...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.


Just wanna take this opportunity to again say, I've never liked the name "WNBA". 1) Sounds like a gimmicky side product when contextualized with its parent League, and 2) Soooo many syllables; does not roll off the tongue in conversation. (At least the NWSL only has the latter problem.) The W could go through something of a soft reset if it ever distanced itself from the "NBA" part of its name, or re-named itself something different entirely (#BringBackTheABL – in name only though!). A 25th Anniversary season in a societally transitional year might be as good a time as any to do so! Well, one can dream, anyway.



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pilight



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 3:55 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The name made sense in 1997. Back then they needed to show the close connection to the NBA so people wouldn't think of it as another fly-by-night women's league like all those that had failed before (i.e the ABL). The W is established enough now that it doesn't need that kind of reinforcement.



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johnjohnW



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 4:54 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Rebranding the name of the league is pointless. One, it would confuse casual viewers, it wouldn't really have any positive impact on viewership, and 3, that name recognition has immensely helped the league more than it has ever hurt it. I think names like NWSL, ABL, NNL, ETC sound even more junior league. The name WNBA immediately communicates that this is a serious league.


Bob Lamm



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 5:43 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

J-Spoon wrote:
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.


I'm not taking the time to look up data on TV ratings, media stories, and social media, but I believe this is dead wrong. The U.S. women's national team has had massive publicity and tickertape parades in New York. At best, they fill big stadiums. Let me know the next time the U.S. women's national team has a home game in Westchester County Center or any tiny, mediocre venue.

P.S. Mia Hamm retired in 2004. So did Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. Rather long time ago. Smile



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Last edited by Bob Lamm on 10/23/20 5:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
J-Spoon



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 5:52 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bob Lamm wrote:
J-Spoon wrote:
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.


I'm not taking the time to look up data on TV ratings, media stories, and social media, but I believe this is dead wrong. The U.S. women's national team has had massive publicity and tickertape parades in New York. At best, they fill big stadiums. Let me know the next time the U.S. women's national team has a home game in Westchester County Center or any tiny, mediocre venue.


I probably didn't state it clearly enough

Yes the Women's National team get a lot of attention once every four years during a World Cup or an Olympics but the comparison to the WNBA is the WNSL. Which Isn't on TV as much, if at all, doesn't have the same level of cultural impact or recognition and I am sure doesn't get the same level of media attention.

Granted this is a WNBA forum but can you name the teams in the WNSL? when was the last time you saw it covered on ESPN? Or had it's scores in the scroll? what cities is it in? When was a former or current player a regular broadcaster on TNT, ESPN, ABC? When was the last time it was referenced in SNL, or had multiple stories on MSNBC or Fox new about it political activism. I am not saying this isn't happening, but I follow women's sports and couldn't tell you.


Bob Lamm



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 6:08 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

J-Spoon wrote:
I probably didn't it state it clearly enough

Yes the Women's National team get a lot of attention but the comparison to the WNBA is the WNSL. Which Isn't on TV as much, doesn't have the same level of cultural impact or recognition and I am sure doesn't get the same level of media attention.


Deleted what I'd written.



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Stormeo



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 6:41 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

johnjohnW wrote:
Rebranding the name of the league is pointless. One, it would confuse casual viewers, it wouldn't really have any positive impact on viewership, and 3, that name recognition has immensely helped the league more than it has ever hurt it. I think names like NWSL, ABL, NNL, ETC sound even more junior league. The name WNBA immediately communicates that this is a serious league.

Well, no matter how junior a name like "NWSL" might sound, I haven't seen high-profile people investing in the WNBA like this recently. Maybe if it did, it would actually expand for the first time in over a decade.

Casual viewers will know what they're watching when they see a women's basketball game featuring the same teams & players on their screen. Now I agree with pilight that it made sense at the time to name it the WNBA, considering the graveyard of women's pro b-ball Leagues behind it. You can't tell me though that "WNBA" nowadays doesn't have several more negative connotations to it than positive ones. Erase that name from people's minds, and people who wouldn't have watched it before might just be more swayed into giving it a chance – sometimes something as simple as that is all it takes. As a League with more of an older fanbase, it'll need to attract new (demographics of) fans at some point anyway. And with its growing reputation as a cultural leader in social justice, this League deserves a clean slate to firmly move forward on.



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Last edited by Stormeo on 10/23/20 6:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
Bob Lamm



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 6:46 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Stormeo wrote:
Well, no matter how junior a name like "NWSL" might sound, I haven't seen high-profile people investing in the WNBA like this recently.

Casual viewers will know what they're watching when they see a women's basketball game featuring the same teams & players on their screen. Now I agree with pilight that it made sense at the time to call it the WNBA, considering the graveyard of women's pro b-ball Leagues behind it. You can't tell me though that "WNBA" nowadays doesn't have several more negative connotations to it than positive ones. Erase that name from people's minds, and people who wouldn't have watched it before might just be more swayed into giving it a chance – sometimes something like that is all it takes. As a League with more of an older fanbase, it'll need to attract new (demographics of) fans at some point anyway. And with its growing reputation as a cultural leader in social justice, this League deserves a clean slate to firmly move forward on.


Add me to the list of those who have disagreed. Changing a league's name after 23 seasons makes it look bush league. And I don't consider the name all that important anyway. Will a new league name eradicate the sexism, racism, and homophobia that are crucial to why the WNBA faces such a tough time gaining media attention and fan support? That's why so many won't give the WNBA a fair chance, not the name.



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johnjohnW



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 7:02 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

No, a name change wouldn't matter because it would still be the same product. Obviously there are other adjustments that may help, but a name change would be foolish and short sighted. I think most casual viewers would just think the Wnba folded and add to the naysayers ammunition.

I think there is a lot the league can learn from. I definitely think enhancing the TV product is most important. I think arenas like the Mystics and Aces should be the future. That's a takeaway from MLS that could help.

Also, the NWSL, apart from 2 teams and occasional sellers from Orlando and a couple other teams, do not fill giant stadiums. A few teams even play on far worse venues than the WCC. Last I checked, both Carolina and Sky Blue play in pretty embarrassing venues.

Their ratings and average attendance are promising. And it will be interesting if the league sustains success. I hope they do.


tfan



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 8:36 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Bob Lamm wrote:
Stormeo wrote:
Well, no matter how junior a name like "NWSL" might sound, I haven't seen high-profile people investing in the WNBA like this recently.

Casual viewers will know what they're watching when they see a women's basketball game featuring the same teams & players on their screen. Now I agree with pilight that it made sense at the time to call it the WNBA, considering the graveyard of women's pro b-ball Leagues behind it. You can't tell me though that "WNBA" nowadays doesn't have several more negative connotations to it than positive ones. Erase that name from people's minds, and people who wouldn't have watched it before might just be more swayed into giving it a chance – sometimes something like that is all it takes. As a League with more of an older fanbase, it'll need to attract new (demographics of) fans at some point anyway. And with its growing reputation as a cultural leader in social justice, this League deserves a clean slate to firmly move forward on.


Add me to the list of those who have disagreed. Changing a league's name after 23 seasons makes it look bush league. And I don't consider the name all that important anyway. Will a new league name eradicate the sexism, racism, and homophobia that are crucial to why the WNBA faces such a tough time gaining media attention and fan support? That's why so many won't give the WNBA a fair chance, not the name.


Where do you rank that fact that the WNBA women are worse athletically than male basketball players, with regard to why people don't watch the WNBA in great numbers in comparison to racism, sexism and homophobia on the part of viewers?


pilight



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 9:05 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Why Sue Bird is wrong about WNBA's overall lack of popularity

https://globalwomenssportsradio.com/f/why-sue-bird-is-wrong-about-wnbas-overall-lack-of-popularity

Quote:
Much like softball, where the sport is far more popular at the NCAA level but has never found a way to capitalize on that success to create a widely successful professional softball league, I believe there remains a disconnect in women's basketball in that fans of women's college basketball aren't necessarily fans of the WNBA or women's professional basketball.



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Stormeo



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 9:54 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The name change realistically wouldn't be anything other than "The W", which is how many (of us) already refer to the League. That's the only one that could happen anytime soon.

There is an analytic portion of this that hasn't been brought up. If the W were to wisely become particularly tech-savvy in a rebrand, there are (legal) ways via manipulation of social media algorithms to prevent Google or Twitter searches of "wnba" from bringing up certain past mentions of the League in bulk at the top of a search. Those negative comments/articles associated with the League would start to clear out, allowing that fresh start. There would be plenty of discourse about "how the WNBA became just the W" that would help put a proverbial lid on the old stuff. People on here who are much more tech-savvy than I can attest to this. And believe it or not, there are people out there that respect rebrands despite instantly understanding its motivations – if the rebrand by the company is done right.

What has absolutely improved since the League came into existence is the product – imo the product and the players themselves are pretty much why all of us are (still) here, following the League. Those certainly are not part of the problems. Objectively speaking, the League's #1 problem (y'know, if we had to rank all of 'em) is that these franchises still haven't gone up in value in 24 years. People already think the W is bush league – and after this many years largely spent in the digital age of extremely limited growth (or if you prefer, flat-out lack of growth), they're not necessarily wrong. Shit, year after year, we ourselves keep track of how many embarrassing website gaffes there are, the low-quality of the local broadcasts of games, the lack of quality merchandise, etc.



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Last edited by Stormeo on 10/23/20 10:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
pilight



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 10:15 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

One thing I've learned for sure over the last 23 years; you should never put "The W" and "savvy" in the same sentence.



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Stormeo



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PostPosted: 10/23/20 10:24 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
One thing I've learned for sure over the last 23 years; you should never put "The W" and "savvy" in the same sentence.

Sad Again, one can dream...



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MuneravenMN
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PostPosted: 10/25/20 3:04 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The guys who make a big deal of calling WNBA players "lesbos" and other epithets for queer women wouldn't watch the WNBA if every woman in the league was married, hot, had six kids, and baked cookies for her husband after the game.

Those same guys wouldn't watch the WNBA if every team had three players who could dunk. Monster dunk, Monster dunk from the three-point line.

The only way those guys would watch the WNBA would be if at least three starters on ever team was a porn star who played naked.

Because that's how those guys think about women. They don't want female athletes in their world. And female athletes who could beat them? A point guard who could break their ankles, or a soccer star who could dribble right past them, or a tennis star whose serves they could never put a racket on? No way. Female athletes make them feel uncomfortable and less masculine. So they mock them and put them down because that's what those guys do to feel significant for five minutes.

It's about WNBA players BEING FEMALE. Yes there is racism, too. Yes there is anti-queer bias as well. But overwhelmingly the dislike for the WNBA and all other women's sports is about sexism.

And yeah, you can rank men's dislike of women's sports by how closely the athletes cleave to a traditional idea of what is feminine. Small is better. Pale is better. No big muscles is better.



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Bob Lamm



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PostPosted: 10/25/20 3:26 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

MuneravenMN wrote:
The guys who make a big deal of calling WNBA players "lesbos" and other epithets for queer women wouldn't watch the WNBA if every woman in the league was married, hot, had six kids, and baked cookies for her husband after the game.

Those same guys wouldn't watch the WNBA if every team had three players who could dunk. Monster dunk, Monster dunk from the three-point line.

The only way those guys would watch the WNBA would be if at least three starters on ever team was a porn star who played naked.

Because that's how those guys think about women. They don't want female athletes in their world. And female athletes who could beat them? A point guard who could break their ankles, or a soccer star who could dribble right past them, or a tennis star whose serves they could never put a racket on? No way. Female athletes make them feel uncomfortable and less masculine. So they mock them and put them down because that's what those guys do to feel significant for five minutes.

It's about WNBA players BEING FEMALE. Yes there is racism, too. Yes there is anti-queer bias as well. But overwhelmingly the dislike for the WNBA and all other women's sports is about sexism.

And yeah, you can rank men's dislike of women's sports by how closely the athletes cleave to a traditional idea of what is feminine. Small is better. Pale is better. No big muscles is better.


So true. All of it.



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