Wednesday, July 12, 2006

“The Can’t Quite Watch the WNBA All-Star Game” Diary of the WNBA All-Star Game

Ok, I tried to tune in on time at the beginning, and I’ve tried paying attention, but it’s hard. The WNBA All-Star game is not exactly “my” game. I am clearly not in the target audience for this event, neither being nor having a daughter between the ages of 10 and 15. It’s easier to get up for other all star events, like Major League Lacrosse’s game or Nathan’s Famous.

Plus some aspects of this sport are just mean. Every time the announcer says “Pass by Bird” or “Shot by Bird” I find myself instinctively looking at the TV and thinking “Larry…?” But no, it’s Sue. It’s all a cruel joke.

I think part of the problem I’m having is that this is the tenth anniversary of the league, and I know nothing about it. This is a trend in fringe sports across the board – an effort to build credibility by trumpeting their own longevity to new fans. “The WNBA is ten years old… Nathan’s Famous has long been the premier eating event of competitive eating.” Like by bathing themselves in tradition of questionable worth, these sports will keep the casual fan coming back for more. I’m not sure that’s the best approach. Appealing to people’s desire to get in on the ground floor of something cool might be a better idea. That’s how fringe sports usually grow.

And crap, the first quarter’s over already. 28-27 East, which apparently is a big deal because they’re 0-6 in this game. Rise above the apathy, John.

Beginning of the second quarter, quote John Whisenant, the western coach: “All these players are nice.” Admittedly, that beats “All these players are out on bail,” which the Trailblazers’ coach ends up saying at least once a season.

This game isn’t that interesting. I’m sorry, I’m really trying here.

It’s halfway through the 2nd quarter and I just figured out the East is wearing white jerseys. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough.

It’s well known that the WNBA continues to exist because the NBA (and particularly David Stern) wills it alive, kind of like Dr. Frankenstein (“Frankenshteen!”) forcing the breath of life into a collection of corpse parts. I heard on the radio that the NBA helps the WNBA to the tune of $12 million a year. Wikipedia has a little more on the league’s finances, including the goal of profitability by 2007. Hmm… that’d be a big turn around in one year.

30 seconds in the half, 9-point East lead…same at half time, 49-40.

All-Decade team presentation at half time. I feel like they’re just trying to build credibility in a slightly artificial way. At the same time, they have been around for ten years. Even with the NBA propping them up, that’s pretty impressive. If tomorrow the NBA built a league around me it wouldn’t be around in two years, never mind ten. And the commemorative glass plates look nice. They’re not guaranteed to increase in value, but all the previous ones have.

Ok, I’m done making fun. I’m also done watching for the most part, but I’ll check back later.

Despite what this article may have indicated to this point, I’m actually in favor of the WNBA, so long as I don’t have to watch it… because someone wants to watch it and should. I was quite serious when I wrote I’m not in the target audience. The WNBA doesn’t exist for me. It exists for my little cousin Lauren (if she didn’t have the Weaver gene she might have been a more appropriate basketball height, but as things are she plays lacrosse) and my friends’ young daughters and possibly my future daughters.

Girls need sports. Every where they turn away from sports there are TV shows, magazines and movies showing them what they should look like, and more often than not what they don’t look like. Girls need sports to show them what they can do, not just what they can look like.

David Stern is a smart guy. Maybe he can turn the WNBA into a profitable entity in the next calendar year. I doubt it. But he is dead on about the importance of the WNBA. It might be the most socially important fringe sport there is.

Last 30 seconds of the game - worst-of-dunking contest. Lotta jumping, not a lotta hops. With the East set to win 98-82, the West begins having a shoot around, seeing who can dunk. Not pretty. Eventually, with 6 seconds left, Michelle Snow manages one – finger tips barely on the rim – becoming the second player in league history to dunk (Lisa Leslie was the first).

I know the dunking should be cool (sort of), but I would rather see the East break triple digits (or better yet, a triple over time game in the NBDL finals). Oh well, I guess chicks dig the dunk-ball.


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4:37 PM  

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