Back during the start of the school year, I decided that I wanted to get into the WNBA. The playoffs were just starting, and Oregon Duck darling Sabrina Ionescu was having somewhat of a breakout year as a starting shooting guard on a halfway decent New York Liberty team. Knowing absolutely nothing about the league or any narratives to follow, I turned to YouTube in order to fill in some lore. A couple years back, I did the same thing with the NBA. With just a simple search, alongside actual gameplay footage was decades of rich and nuanced history covered in countless documentaries and video essays that helped me fall in love with the game. Excited for a repeat experience with the WNBA, I was slapped in the face with some of the most brazen and disgusting sexism I’ve seen online. Video titles like “Why the WNBA is the WORST Sport in the world..” and “The WNBA is a Complete Joke (If you are a Female This Video Will Offend u)” are pretty much all you can find. At first, I thought that possibly the WNBA was a corrupt and evil corporation that deserved to be shit on and that women’s basketball deserved a better league, but that wasn’t the case. Almost every video you can find is just some incel complaining about how boring women are to watch and how they can totally beat them, or someone justifying why the athletes are delusional for asking for a living wage. All the while, showing “WNBA fails compilation” in the background as if that will somehow prove their point that women are bad at basketball even though I can easily find hours of footage of Michael Jordan or LeBron James fucking up on the court just as badly as the women in these videos.
Fans of basketball who hate on the WNBA make no logical sense. If you love the game of basketball, would you not appreciate every form of it? Besides dunking, the WNBA isn’t really any different than the NBA. I would honestly go so far as to say it’s a more pure and technically sound form of basketball than what is currently offered in the NBA. It’s also deeply interesting on a narrative level. Any type of story line you could want in a sport is present in the WNBA, legendary dynasties that moved mountains, endless GOAT debates, underdog stories, and its fair share of drama and controversy. That’s not even mentioning one of the league’s most unique selling points, that being on-court relationships. With more than 20% of active players identifying as queer, it’s no surprise that multiple people have fallen in love with teammates and have even gotten married. In 2021, the Connecticut Suns faced off against the Chicago Skys in the semifinals of the playoffs, playing that game was not just one queer couple, but three with a pair of wives, a pair of fiancés and a pair of girlfriends all suiting up for the game. If that were not enough, in that same playoff series Courtney Vandersloot broke a playoff passing record with a pass to her wife, and if that’s not peak fiction, I don’t know what is.
One of the most difficult discussions to have when talking about WNBA is the wage gap. Detractors will claim that less people watch the WNBA, and so they should earn less than their male counterparts. The line of reasoning is stupid, for one the actual gap in pay is comically large, way to large for it to be justified. The lowest paid person in the entire NBA makes $633,891 while the lowest paid WNBA player has a salary of $1,607. Even the Goat Ca22ndace Parker makes less than a third than the lowest paid man does. LeBron James makes more in a year than the entire WNBA combined. How is any of that reasonable? And it’s not like the basketball community is doing anything to fix this problem. They are actively making it worse! Sports channels won’t cover games and news outlets won’t publish stories unless it’s to shit on the league. That just breaks my heart, there is so much beautiful basketball being played that’s going unnoticed, so many plotlines that fly completely under our radar just because men refuse to talk about women’s sports. Y’all gotta take a break from watching men play with their balls and watch these badass women hoop!!