Monday, September 19, 2005

Who watches the WNBA?

I mean seriously, who? Jay Mohr, for, doesn't know. I have to agree with the thrust of his article, that the WNBA is a miserable failure. Why is the NBA willfully giving away cash to sustain a league that has no hope for growth or even survival? The NBA still subsidizes the league. It's not really growing. I can't imagine the league is making money.

Look how popular it is. They are currently playing the finals and has them 11th on its list. That's right, 11th, four below US soccer and five below college basketball, whose season hasn't even started yet. I don't know how ESPN decides where to put what, but I would have to assume it's based on the number of hits each sport gets. So either WNBA fans are not Internet-savvy, or no one is looking for the sport.

I've seen live Liberty games tape-delayed to make room for tape-delayed Mets game. That means more people would rather watch the Mets again than watch the Liberty play live. Barely 8,500 hundred people showed up in Sacramento for the WNBA finals. They couldn't come close to selling out a finals game.

I don't see this sport going anywhere. I'm not denying that lack of interest is in some way driven by chauvinism, that men can't watch women who are better at sports than they are. Every single player in the WNBA would kill me on the court. Every one.

But the biggest problem is that they aren't sufficiently better than I am to make me watch. I'm a short, Jewish, unathletic guy. I can't come close to dunking. But the sad thing is that neither can the vast, vast majority of the WNBA. I simply don't feel like they are doing things that I can't do. And part of the draw of sports is watching feats that the average person can only dream of. That's why we spend money to see Bonds hit the ball 6000 feet. Or why we sit glued to our TV to see McNabb evade eight players and then throw the ball fifty yards off his back foot to hit a receiver in stride. We won't get any of that excitement watching Lisa Leslie or Sheryl Swoops.

It would be nice if the WNBA survived and grew. But let's stop pretending the league is a success.

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