The WNBA: They're no angels

By Cathy Young

By Salon Staff
Published August 30, 2000 7:33PM (EDT)

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Praise to Cathy Young for looking hard at the bruised psyche of the WNBA and possible cures. There used to be two leagues for women's basketball and now there is just one. Will the WNBA survive? It will have to become as popular and as loved by women as the NBA is loved by men (who buy tickets for their dates to go to games).

I hope for a bright future for the league. Frankly I don't care whether or not they dunk. At the same time, I like to think WNBA women can gussy up their own hype for a publicity-hungry media as much as any other sports league does. Will the WNBA find its own Dennis Rodman, Shaquille O'Neal or Michael Jordan? It would doubtlessly help for stars like Cooper to expand league appeal, finding solid reasons for the public to pay attention. Sex scandals ... cross dressing ... outlandish behavior ... outrageously undeniable athleticism -- whatever the case, I hope the bad girls get worse and the good girls get better.

-- Douglas Newton

Modern male athletes are not paid to play sports, they are paid to advertise products. They do not play as hard or as well as female athletes as defined by true athletic measurements, but they do sell more product. Think of them as VPs in a corporation -- they bring in revenue, so they are rewarded. If a player brings in $100 million in ad revenue they deserve, and currently receive, a portion of that income. When female athletes bring in the revenue they will be rewarded accordingly. Male athletes currently delude themselves into thinking that it is their prowess on the field or court that sets their fee, but their accountants know it is how much beer, snacks and sports equipment they sell.

-- Jim Moffitt

The reason that the WNBA receives so little credit and respect is that the level of play is not that great. Just look at their ad campaign which depicts middle-aged, overweight white guys playing a pathetic game of pick-up ball, accompanied by the slogan "The WNBA: They're Better Than You." Were I a WNBA player, I would be outraged by this comparison. When they reach a level where they could compete with a Division II or even III men's college team, perhaps they will gain the respect that they unquestionably are working their hardest to achieve.

-- Andrew Packard

Salon Staff

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