Let me just start by saying that I love basketball. I grew up in Indiana…the epicenter of high school March madness cheering on our team in the (-ahem-) “largest and finest high school fieldhouse in the world.” I tried for many years to achieve athletic greatness on the court…I think my shining moment came in 8th grade when I accidentally scored for the wrong team. They in-bounded the ball to me, I looked around and wondered why no one was guarding me…so I shot it…and made it…and scored 2 points for the bad guys. (WHAH-whah – wha…)
So, I moved on to being a fan, but that too has dwindled over the years. College football has ruled my life for the last 6 years and I love it! But when Joe’s sister called to see if we wanted to attend a basketball game in Atlanta, I thought it was time for my and basketball’s estranged relationship to become reacquainted.
The game was for the Atlanta Dream – Atlanta’s very own (new in 2008 ) professional womens basketball team. The cost of admission was $10 and I had low expectations but was curious about the quality of play and the intensity of the fans…so after the fact, here is my assessment.
The actual game was very disappointing. I realize this is a new team, but they were missing free throws and layups. I mean, come on!! Don’t they know that free throws win ballgames!?! The play was sloppy and non-cohesive. The game was close, but by the end of the 4th quarter, I was tempted to root for the other team as they clearly deserved to win.
I was also a bit…unimpressed with the WNBA team names. We saw the Dream play the Chicago Sky. Atlanta was going on the road to play the New York Liberty. These names are so…not intimidating! They might as well be playing the Chicago Prancing Ponies or the New York Butterflies. Who ever named these ball clubs forgot to realize that the main money maker in sports is rivalry and competition. You should want to behead your opponent, trounce them, crush their spirit….not cuddle them!! Just because its a womans league doesn’t mean the names should cater to feminine stereotypes.
The crowd was predominately black women and their daughters. I was happy at the thought of these girls having positive women role models. I think there was like 4,000 people in attendance. They cheered, danced, and generally looked like they were having a great time. I only felt bad that the ‘Dream’ marketing team couldn’t think of better cheers than…”Let’s go Dream!” over and over and over again. If you have a crowd yearning to participate, give them some variety! The “Hey” song never fails…
I read the wikipedia article that states the following interesting things about the WNBA and its finances:
So far the WNBA has not mirrored the monetary success of the NBA, though it had targeted profitability in 2007. The NBA has provided annual subsidies of approximately $12 million dollars to cover operating losses. The average attendance of WNBA games, league-wide, is roughly half the average attendance of NBA games. As of the agreement signed in 2003, WNBA players who had up to three years of experience were capped at $42,000. By comparison, $385,277 was the minimum salary of an NBA rookie. WNBA rookies earned $30,000 per year. The maximum salary for a WNBA player in 2007 was $100,000. Many WNBA players choose to supplement their salaries by playing in European or Australian women’s basketball leagues during the WNBA off-season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_National_Basketball_Association
I added the emphasis…but wow! It makes me feel bad as a woman for thinking about not returning…but then again, guilting the feminists into attending really isn’t going to be the best marketing strategy either. I’m really not sure how to make these teams succeed! My suggestion is to increase visibility (tv broadcasts, ads, etc), make the games more fun (better crowd interaction), encourage fan creation of male population (who knows how to do this ???), and for the love of sports…hit the gosh darn free throws (PRACTICE!!)….. and the people will come…
…I know I would.