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Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Bikini basketball insulting to WNBA

By Michelle Smith

You want cogent analysis on why the Bikini Basketball League is a bad idea?

Paragraph upon paragraph about how it is insulting and demeaning and detrimental to women’s sports?

Why bother when the whole thing is easily summed up in a single word? Ick.

We have a great women’s basketball league in this country, played by an extraordinary group of athletes who are simply the best in the world. There is no better league than the WNBA.

But rather than appreciate it, people would rather disparage it. Rather than respect it, people would rather see if they can come up with something more “appealing” to the Maxim crowd, men who might like their women’s hoops with less muscle and more skin.

The Bikini Basketball League isn’t about basketball at all. It’s certainly not about competition. It’s about sex and salesmanship.

It’s a depressing reality that competing isn’t good enough for women to gain acceptance in the mainstream sports marketplace. There has to be something else -- conflict, heartache, or a bikini.

The Bikini Basketball League is scheduled to start play next summer, going head-to-head with the WNBA, further chipping away at the credibility of true, committed female athletes, offering some sort of twisted contrast to world-class talent with a no-class concept.

There is no women’s professional soccer in this country right now. Our Olympians came home with gold medals around their necks and no place to play. Women’s softball has no spot in the Olympics and a pro league that has been scaled down, cut back and generally faded into the ephemera.

The WNBA, meanwhile, is struggling to the end of an Olympic-interrupted season. Attendance is down six percent to the second-lowest average numbers in league history, with half the teams in the league sustaining double-digit percentage drops. Television ratings are also down. After 16 years, the level of play is higher than ever, the interest, however, appears stagnant.

The WNBA might be the most disparaged sports entity in the mainstream sports landscape. The accomplished women of this league are often told that they are less-than, unworthy of attention or recognition, sometimes a joke.

And now someone is taking their sport and turning it into an actual joke. A joke they no doubt think will make some money. Again, only a single word really seems to apply here: Ick.