Several domestic abuse cases haven’t shut down the NFL, and players leaving early haven’t yet put college sports out of business. But based on recent events, it seems that such sky-is-falling fuss about the WNBA is running rampant.
When Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi announced during the off-season that she will sit out the upcoming season, and last month Candice Parker said she will do the same at Los Angeles but only the beginning of the season, some acted like the two W stars had made “end of days” declarations.
“These women athletes [play] year round,” noted ESPN Basketball Analysts LaChina Robinson after the MSR asked her during last month’s pre-draft media conference call if league officials should be alarmed by this. “I don’t think there’s anything the league can do, other than support these athletes and what they feel like they need to do.”
“Diana is resting, not retiring,” says Chicago Sky Coach and General Manager Pokey Chatman.
However, Minnesota Lynx Assistant Coach Jim Petersen worries that if more stars do what Taurasi and Parker did, it may have an adverse impact on the entire league. “The overall health of the WNBA requires that everybody plays,” he told the MSR.
“[After] playing in the WNBA, most of them go right over and play overseas in Europe,” continues Robinson. “Candace Parker has some injuries that have plagued her over time. If she’s saying she needs rest, then that’s what she needs.
“These women take on a tremendous schedule. It’s tough on their bodies,” adds Robinson.
The recent incident involving two Black WNBA players at their home isn’t a signal to stage garage sales — domestic abuse unfortunately occurs every single minute in this country. That should be emphasized, but instead the Brittany Griner and Glory Johnson incident cast a bad shadow on the women’s pro hoops league. It’s the type of attention the W doesn’t need or deserve.
When Amanda Zahui B. and Jewell Loyd opted to finish their college playing careers early, this also got temporary sports front-page headlines as if it were some doomsday signal for women’s college basketball. Their male counterparts’ “one-and-done’s” have existed for over a decade at least, but no Chicken Little dissertations have been written in this regard.
Women’s basketball, whether pro or college, still is not at the major-league stage when it comes to consistent media coverage. Therefore, domestic violence news or players leaving after two or three years of playing in college get “novelty” instead of serious news coverage.
Hitting someone inside the home is bad, but it isn’t a WNBA epidemic. Players leaving after two or three college seasons are a WNBA exception and not the rule. No high alert needed here.
“We’re not even 20 years old. That’s what people forget,” surmises Chatman on the league, which begins its 18th season this summer.
The sky’s not falling, but it’s the limit for the W.
“I really think the women’s game is on the verge of taking off,” surmises Petersen. When and if mainstream media pays attention is anyone’s guess.
Minnesota Lynx players Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Monica Wright are among 27 players expected to participate in USA Basketball training camp this week in Las Vegas. The three veterans also are members of the USA Women’s Team.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.