May 14, 2016

Influencers: Why The WNBA Is The Powerhouse of Female Athletes

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year the WNBA is a powerhouse with excellent female athletes. On April 24, 1996, The NBA approved the proposal to begin the WNBA and in June 1997 it all kicked off.  The evolution of the WNBA has transformed into a global sport.

Women can play basketball professionally?  And did we have women who could be as good as Michael Jordan? All these questions were answered for me when I saw Candace Parker play for the first time in 2008. My dad always told me how amazing the league was when it first started in 1997.  In his eyes Cynthia Cooper was the female Michael Jordan and I later did my research and knew why. To Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Teresa Witherspoon and Tina Thompson I learned my greats quick. 

The success of the WNBA was on fire female athletes were getting endorsement deals and becoming well known all around the world. With triumph comes problems and the WNBA has faced issues like the lack of respect for female basketball players and the inequality over pay.

The main problem is that after 20 years, the WBNA has little profit to show for those two decades. Stars like Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne, Diana Taurasi, Angel McCoughtry and Brittney Griner have certainly helped increase the league’s profile. Skylar Diggins has been voted and promoted as one of the sexiest women in sport.

LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose all make millions. Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi do not, at least not in the WNBA, but Diana Taurasi can make millions in Russia, Spain or China.

I'm all for women empowerment and it kills me understand that female basketball players can't make as much as the men do. How is it possible?  Why can’t the women get the same respect as the NBA? Why have they been neglected?

But it all boils down to the fact that the NBA has always seen the WNBA as a side business. It almost feels like they set up the league to shut women up. Diana Taurasi sat out last year's season to play overseas because they often a amazing offer that paid ten times more than the WNBA. These women have to go overseas right after the WNBA season to get amazing financial award that the WNBA can not give. It is important to see that they get the same amount of investment. This is what will allow young future ballers to aspire to be like Skylar Diggins, Tamika Catchings and so on. It is important for girls and women to feel valued and appreciated when it comes to basketball. Yes, we understand that, men probably have the edge when it comes to the game, but women would soon catch up if the same amount of focus and passion was invested in them. If the league pays attention to maximising the marketing power of the WNBA, they might be able to convince people that the NBA actually does care about women’s basketball.

This just no side business NBA this is real women with real passion fighting to be a factor in a male dominated sport. They are the superheroes, THE REAL MVP's. Candace Parker gave me the strength to believe that I could play basketball and be great at it. She was everything to me and still is as a women. In the end I do believe that if more women supported the league all together it could continue to grow dramatically. Women supporting women period.


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