Sunday, September 16, 2007

No support, even for winners

A student columnist for Arizona State wrote a piece at the end of August called "WNBA go away" in which he groans about all the "Mercury fever" in the air as the team readied itself to go into the playoffs. This brief mention in itself seems to contradict the writer's later sentiments that no one pays attention to the WNBA.
He compares the league to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as he explains that, as some little girls look up to WNBAers, he looked up to and wanted to be the TMNTs. But when the turtles started losing money they went away which is exactly what he thinks should happen to the decade-old league.
To prove he is "not a sexist pig," he goes through all the reasons why the WNBA and women's professional sports should exist but in the end looks only at numbers--specifically the ones that follow this sign: $. Even if it is all about money--which it isn't, or shouldn't be--he fails to consider two big issues. One, men's sports have had centuries to build a fan base. Women's sports have had decades, if that. And two, men's sports have always had the support of the media--not coincidentally, also male-dominated. And coverage of men's sports--good coverage--brings in more fans. When commentators, broadcasters, and writers get psyched about a sport or a team or a player people go to games/contests. The same enthusiasm has not been proffered to women's sports.
The student columnist is part of this problem. And it's a little sad that he can't even get excited for the hometown team who also, as of this evening, are the reigning WNBA Champions.

1 comment:

Diane said...

It would appear that, whatever else Mr. Berkeley learned at the university, no one taught him anything about rhetoric. But to not see that women's sports are not popular because every aspect of the sports marketing machine is male-dominated is, I fear, a very common thing. The recruiters, the alumni, the media, the sponsors...they are the ones who decide who makes it, and they are most decidedly male.

Mr. Berkeley did, however, learn the main lesson of American culture--the nothing has any value if it doesn't make money.

There is also another side to this story. I, for example, would like to see the NFL "go away" because of the rampant law-breaking and abuse of women practiced by several of its stars. I would like to see boxing "go away" because of so much of it is crooked. I would like to see cycling "go away" because so many of the participants are guilty of doping.

You can shoot people, beat people up, rape women, fix events, and use illegal performance drugs, but that is long as you are making money.