With this year’s WNBA season in the books and the Las Vegas Aces having vanquished the New York Liberty to win this year’s championship, there is a time to reflect on the season – and particularly all of the press coverage we saw.
If it is one thing that is true about the W is the press coverage is certainly on the rise as interest is on the rise. Slowly, but surely, more and more major media outlets are understanding that investing in women’s sports coverage is not only good public relations.
It is good business.
Packed houses in both Las Vegas and New York – the cities whose teams are the class of the WNBA right now – should further the reality that interest in women’s sports is there. Not only is it there, it is only going in one direction and that is up.
And there are so many to shoutout. Lauren Dreher “Big Lo” became a household name within WNBA media circles this year. She has co-hosted WNBA Twitter spaces alongside Ari Chambers, Monica McNutt and Mark Schindler – all three outstanding women’s sports journalists in their own rights.
She also has made appearances on Brother from Another, a Peacock podcast hosted by Michael Smith and Michael Holley – two former Boston Globe sportswriters and ESPN personalities. Big Lo is doing big things are we are so overjoyed she will be around for a long time to the big time.
When the Liberty were making their run to the Finals that had the entire Tri-State area rallying around the seafoam, black and copper, Myles Ehrlich (Liberty beat writer at Winsidr) and Khristina Williams (Girls Talk Sports TV founder) made regular appearances on SportsNet New York talking Liberty.
The Liberty are blessed with the increased amount of coverage that the team has encountered thanks to a number of New York-based scribes such as Ehrlich, Jackie Powell, Brian Heyman and Rafique Louison. And even though Williams was the target of a bit of smoke earlier this season by a couple of writers at Howard Megdal’s The Next, this season continued to leave no doubt about the consummate professional she is.
We also have to give a shoutout to The Committee Sports Group that includes Big Lo, B Terrell, Deloris, Tyler DeLuca (DAMN!) and others. The Committee was credentialed to cover WNBA All-Star in Las Vegas this year and even held a get-together for All-Star weekend. One of the areas of WNBA coverage that The Committee has excelled in is highlighting how Black players are covered in comparison to their white counterparts.
Also, it was The Committee that broke the news of Breanna Stewart winning MVP that started so many conversations among WNBA Twitter.
As the WNBA grows, this means more beat reporters will get opportunities to make trips to road games. Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post certainly deserves his flowers for all of his stellar Mystics and WNBA coverage this year. Elevation of more Black, Brown, Asian, LGBTQIA+ and Native American reporters is vital for the W and for sports as a whole.
Speaking of those beat reporters. There is James Kay and Annie Costabile who do great work alongside the Chicago Sky. There is Kent Youngblood up in Minnesota with the Lynx. Percy Allen in Seattle with the Storm. Imani Wright, John Davis, Nick Hamilton, Jackie Rae and Rey Moralde in Los Angeles with the Sparks. Jeff Metcalfe in Phoenix with the Mercury. Dorothy Gentry in Dallas with the Wings.
Also as one can expect podcast content is on the upside. Whether it is “Pull Up with Myles (Ehrlich) and Owen (Pence)” or ESPN’s “Around the Rim” with LaChina Robinson and Terrika Foster-Brasby. Erica Ayala (Black Rosie Media & CBS Sports) also has a Liberty podcast. Nick Andre is podcasting. Nekias Duncan is doing great work, particularly when talking X’s and O’s. The more content the better and we are seeing more of it all over the place – team-wise and league-wise.
Speaking of Brasby, she is now part of the 3on3 pod with Chris Williamson and DiDi Richards. And it is being launched under Michael Smith’s production company.
We once again got a look at the increase in media attention for the W when we were at All-Star in Las Vegas. Sometimes we sound like a broken record when this gets brought up, but the WNBA used to strain to get reporters to cover marquee events like the Draft, All-Star and Finals.
Now the WNBA has to go into NBA-style mode with all of the press requests it receives to cover these events. The only downside is if the W were to give preferential treatment to larger outlets who only parachute on the W for a cup of coffee when independent outlets like Winsidr, Girls Talk Sports TV, The Committee, the 9450 Podcast Network (K Dot, Daniel Artest, etc.) and ours are ride or dies for this league.
Add in the historical records kept by outlets such as Across the Timeline and Her Hoop Stats (shoutout to Alford Corriette) and the WNBA media ecosystem is well-covered with various outlets specializing in their own things.
And, yes, there is still the more traditional coverage that comes from Megdal at Sports Illustrated, Doug Feinberg at Associated Press and M.A. Voepel and Alexa Philippou at ESPN. But those outlets (including ours) that have successfully fused together the culture with the game is where things are headed as we look to 2024.
We also have to give ourselves credit as well. The last two years have been momentous for us at Beyond The W in terms of content. This year, we were at WNBA All-Star in Vegas and the Aces being honored at the White House by Vice President Kamala Harris. Speaking of All-Star, Phoenix-based journalist Aya Abdeen has made a name for herself with the work she has done at Arizona State and with The Next. We are looking forward to what she and hers have planned for next year’s All-Star festivities at Footprint Center.
A good portion of WNBA media will soon shift their attention to the women’s college game with teams like LSU, UConn, UCLA, Iowa, Stanford and South Carolina at the top of many rankings. But as this transition takes place, something tells us we need a break.
As we wrote this, the Aces had still yet to have their parade so Vegas folks (including Adrian Hernandez) have one more day with their team (plus exit interviews). But we at Beyond The W tip our caps and raise our glasses to ourselves and to every single outlet, writer, influencer, photographer, videographer, content creator, etc. that tells the story of this sport and these players.
HEADLINE: WNBA press corps completes another stellar season of hoops coverage.
Subhead: Talented, young, vibrant and diverse collection of basketball aficionados earn flowers for covering of unforgettable 27th season.