Column/Top ways to make WNBA a hot ticket

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 28, 2006

Hey! Don’t stop reading. I promise this column will be interesting.

When the league was first created, I was its biggest cheerleader. I kept trying to pump my friends on the importance of women’s professional leagues and diversity and all that.

Now 10 years after the WNBA’s inaugural season, I wouldn’t have known the playoffs were going on had my editor not said something to me last week.

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Maybe that says something about me, even though I’ve a valid excuse with football season starting up.

But I’m thinking my “forgetfulness” – along with that of many others – says more about the league.

So from a fan’s viewpoint, I’m going to offer some ways the NBA’s pet project can be improved, starting with some help from boys themselves.

4. NBA-WNBA showcase – Why not have a game featuring all-stars from each league going at one another?

I know what you’re thinking: Advantage, guys. But there would be some equalizers built in.

First off, only zone defense would be allowed.

And all shots would have to be taken outside the paint. That’s almost an unfair advantage for the ladies. There are about five NBA big men that don’t get panic attacks when they catch the ball further than eight feet from the rim.

3. More visible players – The WNBA needs some outcasts. It needs some players that are public relations nightmares.

Let’s face it, you need folks that go off the beaten path, if for no other reason than to make the squeaky clean players look more appealing.

Sheryl Swoopes announcing she was a lesbian wasn’t exactly the thing I had in mind.

But it raised eyebrows, and it sold tickets.

2. More aggressive marketing – If I see one more league promo played to the tune of an all-girl “rock” band I’ve never heard of, I may stab myself in the leg.

It’s 2006, and those commercials are the equivalent of buying your wife a blender for your anniversary.

I want to hear Amy Lee screaming or Eve rapping while clips of players drawing blood for loose balls are shown.

And it would help if the suits from the NBA got off the fat bubbles they call butts and threw some more sweat into the stirring pot.

It is, after all, an extension of the men’s league.

1. Smaller dimensions – The ball is already an inch smaller than a regulation NBA ball. And it has ABA-type stripes around it. Yay. Pretty.

But the court should be about six feet shorter and two feet narrower.

And for goodness sake, please, please lower the rim a foot. I love fundamental basketball, but I’m smart enough to know that dunking puts butts in the seats.

If not for that, do it for the health of the players. Knee injuries in female athletes are happening at a sickening rate, and it’s because we’re pushing them to levels their bodies are not built for.

Don’t fool yourself. The number of women that can do the exact same things as a male athlete is small.

George L. Jones is sports editor for The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at .