Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is The WNBA Still Relevant?

Fifteen years ago the NBA put together a plan to help the game of basketball reach a broader market. Commissioner Stern saw the potential of having a league that catered to the female demographic while at the same time putting a quality product on the floor. To the chagrin of skeptics and chauvinists Stern launched a professional women's basketball league, the WNBA.

It was a rough start in the beginning. The league had difficulty getting sponsorships and there were questions about the competitive balance. There wasn't a lot of talent to go around and one team (The Houston Comets) claimed the first four WNBA titles. Although the league was subsidized by the NBA it was far from profitable. Some franchises folded and others had to relocate to more favorable cities. Still and yet the commish never lost sight of his vision and stayed the course. Fifteen years later the WNBA is still going strong, but has it served its purpose?

If its purpose was to rival the NBA in popularity and have Sue Bird, Candace Parker, and Maya Moore become household names like Kobe, Lebron, and Jordan the answer is no. If its purpose was to set an example for young women and show them it's ok to dream big and succeed at a high level the answer is yes.

The impact of the WNBA can't be quantified by dollars and cents or TV ratings. You have to consider the effects on our society as a whole. If young women grow up feeling more confident, capable, and competitive the league is doing its job. So long as the target market is satisfied you have to call it a success. I would like to see a little more trash talking though.

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