Column: It will not be long before WNBA haters learn to appreciate

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Sometimes, you cannot help but simply laugh.

That’s right – laugh. As in top-of-your-lungs-like-no-one-is-watching-level cackle.

Day by day, it appears, mansplainers who could have barely made their local YMCA teams continue…and continue…and continue to put down the WNBA.

The one that caught my attention the most was a tweet courtesy of Clay Travis – yeah, that Clay Travis. When offering his toothless take on the gender wage gap between the women that hoop in the W and their male counterparts in the NBA, he had the stones to mention how much the two leagues bring in when it comes to revenue.

So – Travis apparently has no issue with trying to put down women who feel as if they need to be paid more so they do not have to go overseas to earn a fair wage.

WNBA players, do not expect the support of Clay Travis anytime soon. You know what kind of women CAN expect the support of Mr. Outkick?

if you are a scantily clad-dressed NFL cheerleader, you will have Travis’ support – but only on certain grounds.

See…Travis (whose wife just so happens to be a former NFL cheerleader) put this on his “website” after revelations surfaced that Dan Snyder basically trafficked members of the Washington NFL cheer team in front of rich male sponsors of his.

One can only imagine the brains of Travis and other misogynists like him after 24 hours probably went, “OMG! NFL’s gonna get rid of cheerleaders! We’ve been exposed! No more hot babes wearing close to nothing on the sidelines! What will I and a bunch of other old men such as myself do?!”

Hence – the post by him and his wife on his “website” which offered a “defense” of the male-infused institution known as cheerleading, practically downplaying the experiences of those who felt mistreated. They know that it is far from the only #MeToo story that is in their sport.

It is simple as this – when women even dare to venture outside of gender norms that have been put in place by men, those men will do whatever they can to shove those women back “into the kitchen.” Cheerleading conforms to gender norms – the WNBA does not.

That is central to the debate over the gender wage gap that has garnered more attention since LeBron James agreed to his $154 million deal with the Lakers. It is also central when discussing recent comments by NBA players such as DeAndre Ayton and Damian Lillard praising the W.

So – why my laughing? Obviously, sexist comments on social media are nothing to laugh at and it infuriates me that keyboard tough-guy dudes whose personalities remind me of the name of a certain hit HBO series (I believe it’s called….Insecure) continue to type and tweet punkish stuff such as that which they would never say to a player’s face.

My laughing is knowing that it will not be long before these same peeps try to buy a ticket on the W’s train. Unbeknownst to them, said train will have already reached full capacity, the train will have left from the station, and the conductors are already combing the train cars for tickets.

As much as these mansplainers love to point out WNBA attendance and ratings in relation to that of the NBA, they never mention how the WNBA is in its 22nd season – and how it has outpaced their big brother league from when it was in its year 22. That one fact alone punctures their entire anti-WNBA argument before they have the chance to utter another syllable.

There are some fans of sports in general that are simply “bandwagon” fans. In other words – they love to latch on to the next big fad in sports. Whether that is the Golden State Warriors winning championships, or King James donning the purple and gold of the Lakers.

The WNBA will – very soon – reach that point where it is on everyone’s lips. Slowly, but surely, more and more fans – in an era where basketball has established itself as the sport of the social media age – are learning to appreciate that women can hoop too. The Forbes article said everything that has to be said – ratings are on the rise. And this is along with the Twitter numbers that are being garnered.

I see a future for the W where we are constantly debating who are its greatest players – from Sheryl Swoopes to Lisa Leslie to Diana Taurasi to Maya Moore. I see a future for the W where it attracts celebrity fans. The WNBA is already in major international markets such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta – all of whom have no shortage of noteworthy celebs.

Oh…and don’t forget its latest addition in Las Vegas – and potentially the San Francisco Bay Area in the future.

All of this work that players, coaches, executives, fans, journalists, etc. are putting in to fight tirelessly for the W over the years is working – because we see a vision for the WNBA where women’s basketball players (at the professional level) are just as respected as they are overseas.

At that point, all of the haters that mercilessly piled on the W over the years and told the women of the league to “get back in the kitchen” will be eating their words. They will want seats on the train without knowing all of the tickets have been sold out.

Just you wait. I’ll be laughing at all of the league’s detractors even moreso when they try and jump on the train with no tickets. Because I have already bought mine and am riding first-class.
I’ll tweet eventually about how great the trip turned out to be. In the meantime – you will see me on said train likely listening to the latest episode of The W Podcast.

By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)

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