Sports Odds and Ends
Toronto, Ontario, Canada— According to census data, more than half (over 54 percent) of the total Black population in Canada call Ontario home, and nearly 37 percent of the country’s Black population report living in Toronto—7.5 percent of the city’s total population.
We didn’t see many Blacks walking around during our brief time in Toronto last weekend for the first-ever WNBA Canada game last Saturday that featured Minnesota vs. Chicago—two teams with Black athletes comprising more than half of their rosters.
A Black security worker (name withheld by request) warned us, “You won’t see a lot of us. Two sports we will watch in this country [are] soccer and basketball. We’re not much of a hockey people.” He believes the primary reason keeping many Blacks from attending pro basketball games is the expense.
However, a Black fan, ‘Roger’ (not his real name), stressed that over the last five years, women’s basketball in Canada has seen steady growth, “especially in the Toronto area,” he pointed out. “We’re starting to reach the outskirts as well.”
The father of four daughters said he lives an hour west of Toronto. “My oldest got me hooked on the game. All four of my daughters play, and I coach 15-year-olds.”
During her pregame press conference, we asked WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert about the security guard’s observations. “I’ve seen firsthand the diversity of the city,” the commissioner responded. “We want to make sure of access to all different groups and everybody knows we’re here.”
There were Black fans of all ages at last Saturday’s game, including NBA star Serge Ibaka, who played on Toronto’s 2019 NBA championship team.
Shavonne Somvong said afterwards, “I came from Montreal for this game. It was so good.”
Making the roster
The WNBA, which later this week begins its 27th regular season, remains the hardest and toughest league for a player to make a team roster in pro sports. Whether you’re a top overall pick, a particular team’s top draftee, or a seasoned vet, there are virtually no guarantees you’ll make one of the 12 WNBA teams.
Minnesota has to have its regular season roster set by Thursday, May 18. The nearly month-long training camp plus two exhibition contests will have to serve as enough of a body of work for the coaching staff to keep or release first-year players.
Top pick Diamond Miller (second overall selection) is certain to be on the team when the Lynx open up their 2023 season at home on Friday. “We’re just super blessed to have this opportunity and we’re not going to take it for granted,” Miller said last weekend.
Two other rookies, Brea Beal (late second round), and Taylor Soule (early third round), aren’t as certain, however. And even if one or both players don’t make the roster, it is not necessarily because they weren’t ready for the pros, but simply the limited number of spots couldn’t accommodate them to start the season.
“I think the first thing for me is being able to be here,” Beal told the MSR after the Toronto contest. She pointed out that making the team is hard for everybody,” even veterans that’ve been with the team for several years. “I definitely think this city [Toronto] deserves a WNBA team. These people inside and outside the arena are showing love. I see a future for the WNBA here.”
“I think I’ve made a good enough impression to make the final roster,” said Soule. “I think I bring things to the team energy-wise, offensively, defensively that are different. The cards are out of my hands. I just did my job.”
Support Black local news
Help amplify Black voices by donating to the MSR. Your contribution enables critical coverage of issues affecting the community and empowers authentic storytelling.
Leave a Reply