This time of year, there is an amazing variety of great sports for fans to catch. The chase is about to start in NASCAR, the baseball pennant races are heating up and both college and NCAA football are grinding up the gridiron.
Need one more? How about the WNBA playoffs, which tip off Sept. 15.
The game is as good as it ever has been, and now may be the best time ever to jump on the league’s bandwagon. Still need convincing? Read on for five reasons you should be tuning in to catch the best of the WNBA.
Over the past few years, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament has begun stealing some of the limelight from the men’s March Madness. And that excitement has begun flowing into the WNBA, with former college stars like UConn’s Maya Moore, now playing with the Minnesota Lynx, and the Vols Candace Parker, now on the LA Sparks, becoming household names.
The level of play in the WNBA is the best it ever has been, and it’s only going to get better when awesome, dunking 6-foot-8 inch Baylor center Brittney Griner joins the league in a couple of years. That is, unless she’s drafted by the NBA.
The XFL lasted just one season. The USFL had a mere three championship games. Major League Volleyball went belly up before it could even finish its third season. The WNBA? The league is celebrating 15 strong years. Some thought it silly when the league launched in 1996, but the WNBA has turned out to be anything but a joke, sinking shots for a decade and a half. What’s one thing that could help them stay around a lot longer? How about a new motto. “Expect Great” was an airball. Bad Mamma Jammas anyone?
A New Look
Adidas designed new unis for all of the WNBA teams at the start of this season, and get this, they are “made from 60 percent recycled materials.” So they’re green and they look great. And if you’re new to the game, another thing you’ll notice about the duds is that they’re sponsored.
Unlike the NBA, the pro women’s game has embraced corporate marketing on their uniforms (hey, if it’s good enough for Man United). According to a recent article in Ad Age, “If the major professional sports leagues in this country ever inch closer to having sponsor names on jerseys, it will be the Women’s National Basketball Association that nudges them there.” The Nextel Knicks and the Boost Mobile Bulls may not be far away.
You’ve got to love a league that’s not afraid to let its clubs go a little crazy when it comes to team names. Fever, Mystics and Shock have got it all over Lions, Tigers and Bears. Our favorite, though, has to be the Atlanta Dream. It’s a cool MLK tribute, without being hokey or disrespectful.
The WNBA does globalism forwards and backwards. First, a dizzying array of foreign lands have been represented on the league’s squads, including players from China, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Brazil, Italy and even Mali. But when the WNBA season ends, the players fan out far and wide. According to the league’s website, “WNBA players are scattered around the world during the offseason. Between Asia, Australia, the EuroCup and the EuroLeague, players from all 12 teams are competing in over a dozen countries around the world.”
It’s that kind of dedication that keeps the league getting better and better – that is, until they start making NBA-level money and lose their drive.
Former Playboy.com editor John Thomas is the author of Karaoke of Blood, the first black comedy about the sex scandals in the Catholic church.
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