So it's 1:30 in the morning and I check SI.com one last time before hitting the hay and I notice the second headline under “Top Stories”: “Storm sweep aside Dream for second WNBA title.” Naturally, this peaks my interest so I follow the link. The Seattle Storm won the WNBA title with an UNDEFEATED PLAYOFF RECORD. Really?
The Miami Heat, who have possibly two of the three best players in the NBA in Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, are only 1.6-to-1 favorites to win the NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers next in line at a comparable 2.5-to-1. No informed basketball fan would imagine that the Heat could sweep through the NBA playoffs. Although only one consonant (sometimes a vowel) separates the NBA from the WNBA, the games are far from equivalent.
To quote “The Sports Guy,” ESPN’s Bill Simmons, “Maybe you enjoy watching women playing basketball at the highest possible level -- a level that could roughly be compared to ‘a good intramural game at a Division 2 college, only if nobody could jump or dunk’…Who am I to judge?”
I’ve simply put together some mildly/wildly sexist suggestions on how to better the gameplay, even the playing field in the WNBA, and create a better experience for fans when they attend WNBA games at their local NBA arenas.
1. Lower the rims
6 feet? No, the extreme layups would likely dominate the nightly Sportscenter Top 10. Let’s go with an even 8 feet. Also, to make up for the lack of parity in the league, lower the losing team’s rim at halftime, or even halt play mid-first half to make the adjustment.
2. $10-a-cup kegs at games
This one is strictly for the fans. I’m a 20-year-old college male. Would I enjoy the novelty of attending a WNBA game, my hometown Minnesota Lynx perhaps? Sure. Would I go sober? Hell no. After drinking Four Lokos and ‘stones to pregame, I wouldn’t be excited to pay $7.50 for a Miller Lite. I understand they may still have to stop selling booze before the 4th quarter, but if I’m still there by that point, it probably means I passed out in my seat.
3. Brittany Griner
Griner can dunk. She should have a field day on the new 8-foot rims.
4. The 4-point line
This will be the NBA 3-point line.
5. Controversial star athletes
You turn on SportsCenter late summer and see ‘NBA’ on the bottom line. This is undoubtedly an arrest. You wait until it pops up and take your pick: Udonis Haslem arrested for drug possession or Matt Barnes arrested for domestic violence (great mug shot). The average sports fan doesn’t really give this more than a glance and chuckle. Because any publicity is good publicity, the WNBA needs these bottom line updates to make sure no one forgets it exists. Sheryl Swoopes, the Wikipedia-proclaimed “female Michael Jordan,” shook the sports world when she came out as a lesbian in 2005. The WNBA could pull a “John Amaechi” by celebrating acts like Swoopes and possibly publicizing controversial intra-team relationships. Just a thought.
6. Keep jersey sponsors, make them funny
This concept was first thought-up by Bill Simmons. Many WNBA teams replaced the city name on the front of their jerseys with corporate sponsorship logos. Why not take it a step further and replace team names as well. Is it just me or does “Los Angeles Farmers Insurance” have a majestic ring to it? The league could also have some fun with it by signing with comical sponsors, try the Indiana Subaru Forester or the Tulsa Bed Bath & Beyond.
7. Halftime events
By this time, the fans are pretty liquored up. Let’s play Flip Cup at center court.
8. Change the preposterous slogans
The WNBA has boasted outrageous slogans over the last decade, such as “We got next,” “Expect great,” “Basketball is Beautiful,” and the current “Basketball is Basketball.” Here are some possible changes:
“We got next” --- “Next up on Lifetime”
“Expect great” --- “Expect great…deals on kegs at our games”
“Basketball is beautiful” --- “Hot or not? WNBA edition”
“Basketball is Basketball” --- KEEP IT, watch this video. Intentionally or not, this advertising campaign is brutally honest.
9. Hot new jerseys like these:
Both for TV viewers and on the Jumbotron at games. Who wouldn’t enjoy being surrounded by approx. 7,000 drunk fans in 3-D glasses stumbling around the Target Center during a midsummer Lynx game?
11. Head cameras, cameras on heads
It’s about what it sounds like. Make sure they’re in 3-D as well.
12. The beefcake reporter/Inez Sainz Factor
This is topical. With the NFL dealing with some “over-the-line” antics by Jets players directed at asstastic locker room reporter/TV Azteca eye candy/journalist Ines Sainz, the WNBA needs to realize they could use some similar attention-grabbing publicity. Let’s throw some beefcake reporters in WNBA locker rooms for postgame interviews, see what happens...wait a minute, maybe just send Sainz in there.
Wave the white flag. Close up shop. Throw in the towel.
Here are a couple articles I stumbled across and found interesting while writing:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/050901 by Bill Simmons, 2005
http://www.debbieschlussel.com/62/wnba-sports-big-joke-is-closet-deception/ by Debbie Schlussel, 2001