Before we go one step further, I have to make something abundantly clear right away. The lack of coverage for women’s sports is downright disrespectful. And the short answer for a resolution to this issue would be to press a magic button that would immediately make all major outlets realize the error of their ways and give a damn enough to do something about it. Since that will never happen, the energy that’s been dedicated to trying to make it happen should be directed towards something that will help fix the issue.
If I may, I gotta ask if I have permission to vent for a second (this was completely rhetorical BTW. Of course, I have permission. This is my goddamn blog). The constant complaining about the lack of coverage is getting exhausting and annoying. There I said it. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the frustration because I share it. I’m typically hesitant to engage in this conversation in public for several reasons. But I felt like this was a good platform to get out all my thoughts without interruption. This is a layered conversation. On the surface constantly screaming “ESPN NEEDS TO SHOW WNBA HIGHLIGHTS!!!!” every day is a very noble and well-intentioned action. But in all honesty, it’s not effective in the least bit. The issue is obvious and well-documented. Continuously pointing it out doesn’t do much good at this point. And don’t get me wrong, these huge entities should be called to task because they can make the biggest impact. But there are other methods that can be coupled with the verbal brow beating that would make some waves.
One thing I’d like to see change with the “Respect Women’s Sports” brigade is actually bringing light to those who are respecting women’s sports and creating awesome content. There are some really dope people out there whose platforms are solely dedicated to this. Imagine if every female athlete with their hundreds of thousands of followers exchanged a “Put women’s sports on TV” tweet with one that says “Hey look at this dope ass shit this person did about women’s sports.” Constantly screaming at the big fish isn’t working. And I’m going to be brutally honest here. It’s not working because they don’t need to change to be successful. If they felt they needed to highlight women’s sports to make money then guess what…………..
Another pivot that would help the cause is to not only acknowledge the women’s sports coverage that exists but to acknowledge ALL the women’s sports coverage that exists. What I mean by this is show the fellas some love too. Now I recognize that the intentionality of focusing on highlighting women who cover women’s sports is born out of necessity because of the lack of inclusion on the big stage. If things were more balanced in mainstream media, this probably wouldn’t be a thing. And honestly I don’t have a problem with it. But if the goal is to grow the game, then pumping out as much content as possible would only help. As a man that is passionate about women’s sports, it can be frustrating at times to miss an opportunity due to this. But I get it. Women need a space where they aren’t marginalized. But ignoring something amazing because it was created by someone with a Y chromosome is counterproductive.
Brace yourselves because I think I’m about to touch some nerves again. Speaking mainly from a basketball standpoint here, a lot of the content that is most visible should be more centered on the game. I’m not talking about focusing on social justice, philanthropic efforts, mental health and things like that. All of those things are extremely important and gives these ladies depth. No athlete should be solely defined by what happens on the court, field or in the ring. But oftentimes, the tunnel fits overshadow the final score. And again, I completely understand. Showing good looking women in good looking clothes certainly garners attention. Sometimes I do feel like it takes away from the what we came for. I fully acknowledge that this could just be a personal observation and literally no one else could feel this way. If that is the case then fantastic because I do enjoy the fashion emphasis on WNBA players. It adds yet another layer to the players and could be instrumental in getting sponsorships and endorsement deals. But if others are feeling this way then the emphasis should change a bit. I’m not saying throw the fashion aspect away. I’m just saying ramp up the focus on what happens between the lines. There’s room for all of the aforementioned extras in the coverage of women’s sports. But keeping the main thing the main thing should be the ultimate goal.
And in regards to basketball, something that would really help is involving the ladies that laid the foundation for the game more in their marketing. I have to be honest man, the WNBA really fumbled the 25th anniversary thing this past season. Then the Diana Taurasi GOAT campaign really alienated a lot of fans. It has nothing to do with DT. She’s deserving. But that kind of emphasis on an active player with a lot of fans expressing opposition to the idea isn’t the smartest move. Read the room man. It’s already a consensus that there’s a UCONN bias and you go out of your way to crown a UCONN player as the greatest the game has ever seen? That’s going to rub people the wrong way. Candace having the fairytale season by bringing home a chip in her first season at home didn’t help matters either. But all that withstanding, there is a lack of connection with the fans and the players from previous generations. And I have to lay this at the league’s feet. The greatest team in WNBA history is rarely recognized. They need to get Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes and Cynthia Cooper in front of fans as often as possible. One thing about the NBA, if they want to promote a guy they promote the hell out of him. The W needs to take a page out of their book. Imagine having a team in your league’s history that won four consecutive championships, more specifically the first four championships in league history, and not celebrating that as often as possible. There have been some ladies that have accomplished superhuman feats in the game of basketball and it’s not highlighted nearly enough. If a man were to do it, please believe that it would be plastered everywhere. And since the ladies can’t depend on the media to promote it, they have to take it upon themselves to shine the proper light on those accomplishments.
Now that I’ve laid out a few of my concerns, let me verbalize why I’ve chosen to keep them to myself until now. Unfortunately we live in a world where women are devalued and disrespected. So naturally that will spill over into anything women are involved in which includes women’s sports. Many people are just looking for an excuse to discredit what women bring to the table in the athletic realm. By expressing some things I think would better the situation in regards to growing the women’s game, I feel like some idiots would in turn take those constructive criticisms and turn them into ammunition for ignorance. I can hear them now, “SEE!!! That’s why no one watches.” First things first, plenty of people watch when they are given the opportunity. Whenever the WNBA is front and center, the viewership numbers don’t lie. There is interest in the game. The problem is that deep rooted sexism keeps those in a position of authority from giving the ladies the platform they deserve. That coupled with the fact that sports journalism (and journalism as a whole for that matter) is in hell right now leads to the women’s game not being recognized properly.
Before I get out of here, I want to make it abundantly clear that I know there is a sect of people who are intent on disrespecting women in sports no matter what. This isn’t for them. I don’t address ignorance. They won’t approach the situation with an open mind and a willingness to come to a meaningful resolution. This is for the people who have a genuine interest in getting women’s sports to a place where we all want it to be. I also want it to be clear that I’m including every major sports outlet in the former group. Because if they were adamant about increasing visibility for women’s sports then they’d just do it. It’s really not complicated at all. Just put the goddamn games on TV. All the creative marketing and thought that goes into the men, do that shit for the women too. If you’re doing everything you can to promote the game and put it in front of people and they still aren’t watching then it’s time to have a different conversation. But since we already know that won’t be the case, just go ahead and stop shortchanging these ladies.
Now to the people that are dedicated to putting the proper spotlight on the ladies, think this stuff over. I’m completely open to the idea that I could be dead ass wrong with everything I’ve said in this piece. But I do believe there is room for improvement with the way women’s sports is covered even by those who are genuinely dedicated to the cause. Again, if I’m the only person that feels this way then I’ll shut up. If not then let’s all try to change the way we bring women’s sports to the masses. There’s nothing wrong with switching up the game plan every once in a while.