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Friday, October 10, 2008
On Hating the WNBA


WNBA.

Some of you are mad already. I know it's true, because just those four letters is all it takes.

What's that about?

I have no idea. (But that doesn't mean I can't write a long blog post about it!)

A day ago, TrueHoop had a post about the WNBA. A reader named Sarah was nice enough to provide a list of "the top ten reasons that NBA fans are dumb for not caring about the WNBA."

Then there were ten things that, to her, were great about the WNBA.

Sarah had e-mailed me earlier in the week to point out that I had not mentioned one word of the WNBA finals. As someone who has enjoyed watching WNBA basketball in the past -- John Wooden has called women's basketball some of the best played in the world -- I knew I had probably missed something good. 

So I asked her if she could come up with a list of the ten reasons people like me were dumb not to watch.

The point of all that, of course, was not to tell people they were idiots for being like me. That word "dumb" in the title was really just a tool to elicit from an actual WNBA fan a list of things that make them passionate about the sport.

If I were in a pub in Manchester with a load of drunk ManU fans, I might ask one of them to give me the ten reasons that Americans are dumb not to love "football."

I guarantee that would be a fascinating list. And if I posted it on TrueHoop, I similarly guarantee that I wouldn't get a whole bunch of cranky e-mails about how NBA fans don't need to be preached to by some prick in Manchester who thinks he's morally superior.

But the topic was the WNBA. So I did get those e-mails.

And I knew I would, because just about any post, on any NBA blog, that ever goes into any serious discussion of the WNBA ends up with some people in the comments talking a whole bunch of trash about how much the WNBA sucks.

Some people, men, mostly, just hate the WNBA.

It comes out in all kinds of different ways. For instance, commenters will claim (Basketbawful nabbed one -- good going!) that they, the commenters, are better players than the women who play in the WNBA.

They will fret about the WNBA not being a real business, because it loses money. The Grizzlies lose money. My local coffee shop loses money. (I know, because it closed for good yesterday, without much warning, which is probably why I'm in a bad mood.)

They will point out ways that it is not as good as the NBA. But that's true of the D-League, or the NCAA, too. And the D-League and NCAA don't get people all angry.

Let's step back a second. All you who hate the WNBA, please tell me where you get off the bus:

I just don't see what there is to be scared or angry about here. There are people playing a sport, and people cheering for that sport. More power to you.

And yet, some people out there feel threatened, which I hope won't last.

No one is seriously telling you that you have to watch the WNBA. You know how I know that? It's impossible. In a free country with more TV screens than humans, how in the hell would someone make you watch a sport you don't want to watch?

I'm certainly not going to yell at you for not watching. I just told you I don't watch either.

How many sports leagues are there in the world? If you count up every sport, at every level, it must be at least in six figures. And I don't follow any of them closely, but one. (Oh, I love all kinds of sports. I'll happily attend any sporting event, and when I get there I don't really want to talk too much about business or what you had for lunch or whatever ... I'm into it!)

My best guess is that there are a lot of "gender issues" that are attached, like sticky notes, to the WNBA. Everyone who has ever been overzealous or in your face about women's rights is somehow echoing in this brand. That whole angry vengeful women thing ... it's hard for a lot of men to deal with.

I made a mistake, in my post, of triggering that by including talk of "losing the moral high ground." That prompted various serious responses. But it was really just a joke -- a way to simultaneously poke fun at myself for never writing about the WNBA even as I publish a post about how great it is, and for Basketbawful's Evil Ted for being the 2,000,000th person to say, he he, that he'd watch the WNBA more if the women were, essentially, more naked. (And while we're at it, I think the staff in my local hospital should look like the people on Grey's Anatomy.)

There was nothing in my post about people being morally superior because they watch WNBA basketball, though. And there needn't be. Watch it if you want. Don't watch it if you don't. 

Whichever way, though, please, don't be mad. Life's too short.