June 1, 2005, - 9:24 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
What’s the difference between the WNBA and Danica Patrick?
For one thing, she looks like a woman, and they don’t.
Then there’s Title IX–affirmative action for useless women’s sports no-one cares about, like water polo and crew (a/k/a “You Gotta Regatta Lesbiatta”).
WNBA players had Title IX to succeed, but are in season nine of extreme failure. Danica Patrick–the rookiette race-car driver who came in forth at Sunday’s Indy 500–didn’t have Title IX. They don’t have it in racing. The IRL only has that amazing non-governmental program, called, “The Free Market.” And unlike the WNBA, Patrick competes against the men on their own turf. And succeeds.
That’s the lesson of the last week in sports: Feminism is phony. Sports are showbiz. Good-looking women get endorsements. Women who look and act like men don’t. Women who succeed against men on their own turf get respect. Women who constantly whine about equality–yet need their own, separate, unequal league to succeed–don’t get respect.
Take a look at the raven-haired, petite Patrick with her long tresses. Then, look at the 7’2″ Margo Dydek of Connecticut’s WNBA team – if you dare. Which one would guys rather date? Which one would most young girls rather be like when they grow up?
Hint: They aren’t making a scale version of Dydek Barbie anytime soon. Dyslexic young girls might unscramble the letters of her surname and get the right idea of what the WNBA is really about.
That’s the image from which the WNBA is desperately trying to get away. But it’s stuck with it like white on rice (apologies to low-carbers).
When the “season” started over a week ago, the “league’s” website featured a story about WNBA players’ prom memories. But despite trying to push hetero-friendly experiences, like prom, an article featuring WNBA-er Anna DeForge was right below it.
Significance? DeForge’s lesbian relationship with her then-WNBA Coach, Nancy Lieberman was profiled in a controversial 2001 Sports Illustrated article. Makes you forget all about the carefully selected WNBA prom “queens,” doesn’t it? Or wonder about the gender identity of their dates.
Coach Lieberman was apparently “coaching” DeForge as much off the court as on, leading other players on the team to complain about her extraordinary amount of playing time. The WNBA website stresses (twice) that DeForge “loves kids.” It doesn’t tell you that if she ever has any, they’ll likely be conceived in-vitro.
Then there’s that little incident when WNBA player Latasha Byears was investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting her L.A. Sparks teammate. No charges were filed, but last November, Byears sued Sparks operator/Lakers owner Jerry Buss, claiming her quick dismissal demonstrates “bias against lesbians” by Buss.
It’s more than enough to scare off the young girls and families the WNBA desperately wants as fans. But, after eight seasons, still can’t get.
This season, the Detroit Shock, then-team for Lieberman and DeForge, has the slogan, “The Detroit Shock. It’s personal.” The WNBA runs promo ads, saying “The WNBA. You’ll fall in love for the first time. Or fall in love all over again.” Given the context of the Lieberman-DeForge-Byears antics and relationships rife throughout this “sports league,” these are hardly endearing to moms and dads thinking about taking little Susie to a WNBA game. Not to mention, the population of the sparsely-attended WNBA games. Looking for straight people is like playing “Where’s Waldo?” Osama bin Laden has more camels.
In 2002, Bill Clinton attended a New York Liberty game (dragged by Hilary and Chelsea). He hasn’t been back since. Wonder why? No Hawaiian Tropic bikini contestants–or even Monicas–within a three-mile radius.
Danica Patrick, on the other hand, is straight and engaged to be married . . . to a MAN.
Hmmm . . . The feminine, successful Patrick versus a league whose biggest star is nicknamed “Claw” (Chamique Holdsclaw), but is female (we’re told). Which would you want your daughter to be like? Danica Patrick or the WNBA’s Kara Braxton, the 6’6″, 22-year-old unwed mother, who was kicked off her college basketball team after several suspensions. She’s one of two baby-mommas to Cincinnati Bengals’ Odell Thurman, who allegedly beat her.
Well, at least Braxton can spell. Her son’s name, Aelani, is pronounced “Juh-LAH-ni.”
So desperate to make you think they’re like all the girls, this season’s WNBA runs ads featuring 6’2″ Taj McWilliams-Franklin saying, “I play to buy shoes,” as if she’s some “Sex & the City” chick yearning for Manolo Blahniks. Do they really make Manolos for men? And speaking of shoes, there’s injured player Swin Cash’s http://www.wnba.com/voices/dear_swin_1.html advice column, with questions about whether pink shoes are still in. Here’s a tip: If you wear a size 14 shoe, but you’re supposed to be a chick, pink might not be the color for you.
I’ve written–and appeared on ESPN–about the WNBA almost every season (here, here, here, and here). And every season, this Waste of National Broadcast Airtime–this Weird Nuisance Brought on America–gives me new material. They’ve tried Playboy centerfold contests. They’ve tried glamour shots. They’ve tried it all, to make you think they’re the Anna Kournikovas of pro hoops. But no dice.
No-one mainstream is paying attention to the WNBA. To paraphrase Confucius, if a tree falls in a forest, but no-one noticed, did it really happen? So why am I paying attention?
Because WNBA players are bad role models for young girls, the audience the league is targeting. Because real basketball (read: NBA) fans, forcibly subsidize the failing WNBA through increased ticket prices, as do NBA sponsors (strong-armed by the NBA to sponsor the infinitely inferior WNBA).
Yes, I write about the WNBA like it’s going out of style. The problem is that it hasn’t. Yet.
Tags: America, Anna DeForge, basketball, Bill Clinton, Chamique Holdsclaw, Chelsea, Cincinnati Bengals, coach, Connecticut, Danica Patrick, Detroit Shock, Hilary, Jerry Buss, Kara Braxton, Latasha Byears, Nancy Lieberman, National Basketball Association, NBA, New York Liberty, Odell Thurman, operator/Lakers owner, Osama bin Laden, player, rookiette race-car driver, Sports Illustrated, sports league, Swin Cash, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, then-WNBA Coach, water polo, WNBA player