Women’s sports stand strong, even in the face of misdirected flack

Photo Credit: WNBA

There are three lessons in life. You do not spit into the wind, you do not tug on Superman’s cape and you do not try to mansplain women’s sports to those who know its realities – because women’s sports Twitter will clap back at you.

With.

Thee.

Quickness.

Draymond Green learned that the hard way when he sent out a series of tweets – it wasn’t a thread – lamenting why he believes the WNBA lacks interest from the mainstream.

Granted – it was somewhat surprising to see this viewpoint coming from someone who, by all intents and purposes, is among the many allies of the W within the NBA’s ranks. After all, this is the same Draymond Green who once mentioned that he learns fundamentals from watching the W.

He is clearly a good egg who just had a bad take, but let us deconstruct Mr. Draymond Green’s tweets one-by-one…

He acknowledges the pay gap between men’s and women’s sports, which this week got renewed attention in light of the U.S. Men’s Soccer team failing to qualify (again) for the Olympics while the USWNT continue to kick tail and take names.

This is the beginning of where his tweets begin to go off the rails. Plenty of companies make financial decisions based, not on revenue, but on priority. Or, as David Berri constantly points out, lots of men in high-ranking positions of power make decisions on what to invest in solely because of if it is an investment in men or women. The debacle of the NCAA tournaments told all of us that.

He is exactly right here – but this is because there were enough people who believed enough in the NBA that it could become the global juggernaut it is now. They made decisions with their dollars and it paid off. There once was a time when the Finals were on tape delay. Now, it is arguably the most-talked about sport on social media outside of (perhaps) international soccer. Why? Lots of well-monied individuals invested in the NBA and pushed the league to the masses. The investment worked.

When Green here says, “Who?” he is clearly talking about mainstream media outlets. While women’s sports, including the WNBA, are much more deserving of robust coverage than being, as former Swish Appeal editor-in-chief Tamryn Spruill once put it, treated like a booty call, lesser known outlets such as Girls Talk Sports, Winsidr, The Next, Her Hoop Stats, WSlam and us at Beyond The W (along with plenty of others) are filling that vacuum the best we can to tell those stories and amplify these women.

Remember – lots of WNBA scribes are pursuing W journalism and content creation purely as a labor of love because lots of mainstream outlets not named ESPN (Mechelle Voepel), The New York Times (Howard Megdal) and the Associated Press (Doug Feinberg) are not paying top dollar salaries to cover the W. Plenty of WNBA writers and journalists are coming out of their own pockets to cover big events such as the draft, All-Star and playoffs/Finals.

And it is not only the players’ stories that are being told but those of decision-makers such as Keia Clarke, the Liberty’s CEO and influential “Disrupt the Game” agent Allison Galer.

This is where the investment issue comes into play again. WNBA players go overseas after the season because they are paid much more robustly by the UMMC Ekaterinburgs of the world they are by the Seattle Storm’s, Washington Mystics’ and New York Liberty’s of the world. WNBA players addressed this in the CBA that was struck at the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic hit.

With the W being part of the overall NBA family, if more NBA players and executives stood up and upped their investments in the W, then more players would not have to go overseas and would have more time to stay in the States (or in the case of Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa, Bridget Carleton and Kayla Alexander, Canada) and more of those stories could be told year round by mainstream outlets.

Granted, it is admirable that many WNBA players such as Chiney Ogwumike and Candace Parker have found other lucrative opportunities that enable them to stay in the USA more. But most W ballers do not go overseas because they want to – but because they have to. More robust investment (like the NBA got) can change things – and with Green being one of the NBA’s premier ballers, he can have lots of sway on how things work at Park Avenue.

He makes an interesting point here. Especially nowadays in the age of Me Too and Black Lives Matter, it is considered good public relations to be seen as a company that is either pro-women or pro-Brown, pro-Asian or pro-Black. But how many of these companies will sport a Black Rosie every March, but donate political dollars to anti-woman or anti-Black interests?

Looking at you, Delta. Looking at you, Coca-Cola. Looking at you, Home Depot.

And you know which organization can really be at the forefront of this? A little known organization we believe is called….the National Basketball Association, which we believe you are part of.

No discussion? He follows WNBA accounts and knows WNBA players, but does he follow WNBA media people like Khristina Williams, Ari Chambers and even Feinberg? The discussion on Paige Bueckers (as well as Caitlin Clark) prior to the much-ballyhooed Sweet 16 NCAA tournament contest between UConn and Iowa has produced a discussion on if freshmen should be allowed to enter the draft.

After all, we know just by looking at how the NBA side works that college is not for everyone. LeBron James was drafted out of high school No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.

We heard he has had a pretty decent career ever since.

Also…”Paige”? Whenever a player reaches first-name only status (see: Sabrina), that lets you know that player has already reached superstar status or is on the cusp of such. The question we have is when she finally does became draft eligible if WNBA teams will tank to draft her No. 1 overall.

Archaic rules about NCAA player endorsements, the inability to capitalize off of one’s name and likeness aside (as well as those about WNBA draft eligibility requirements), our guess is that when Bueckers leaves UConn for the W, she will have a shoe deal (or deals) waiting for her the nanosecond she declares.

Again – the solution is twofold. First, encourage NBA executives with “more zeroes,” as Aces coach Bill Laimbeer once put it, to invest more money into the WNBA. Second, amplify the voices of the lesser-known outlets that are already telling these stories and force the hand of larger, more established outlets that they need to get with the program and invest real dollars into covering women’s sports.

We are working on it – very, very diligently.

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