This week in New York, David Stern sat down with the WNBA braintrust, and devised a new way to increase fan interest. Their solution, according to one unnamed source, was to "Follow the model of Women’s tennis."
From that, the quick solution was alternative surfaces.
For the last quarter century, the WTA has held its four majors on three alternative surfaces: hard court (Australian and US Opens), clay (French), and grass (Wimbledon). And "they have seen their sport flourish," said the WNBA source. "So, we figured, what do we have to lose? Certainly not viewers."
At first, this reporter was skeptical. Playing basketball on grass and clay and, perhaps, even outdoors? Wouldn’t that make a mockery of the sport?
Then, I realized, the sport is a shell of former basketball glory, so, maybe it’s a perfect fit.
But David Stern, the wizard who’d made the NBA into a worldwide brand, then went one step further. "In addition to the surface change, we also have decided on a hot quota. Each team will have to have at least one Russian, and at least three other girls that are objectively hot. That should help ratings."
A shameless TnA ploy? A sexist business model? A demeaning stance? "Yes" to all three.
Then again, Baywatch was the world’s No. 1 show for a decade, so the track record of success is there.
In the end, this reporter only has one litmus test. Right now, Shoeless Joe does not watch the WNBA, even if given free tickets and unlimited bar tab.
However, put these ladies on clay or on grass, add some attractive players, and, even with a decrease in quality of play, I’m suddenly more intrigued.
I still won’t go. But, at least then, ignoring the league would be more enjoyable.