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Washington Wants A WNBA Franchise

You Can't Miss The WNBA

Yes, it's everywhere. The NBA definitely has the marketing touch. But, to be honest, that's about all they have going for them (more on that later).

You can't miss the WNBA if you are a sports fan. Heck, they're on NBA every Saturday afternoon, plus you can find them during the week on both ESPN and Lifetime cable channels. And I sure can't avoid the WNBA highlights on ESPN SportsCenter.

What makes the WNBA so special? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Washington Sports Wants A Franchise

But we already knew it. Still, Washington Sports president Susan O'Malley had to make a big deal about the fact that they'll seek an expansion team next season.

The facts are, they sought a team last year and probably would have been awarded a franchise. However, MCI Center wasn't going to be ready and the league office told them to wait. Chances are they would get an expansion franchise in year 2.

So wait they are. Now, they want a cut of the action next year.

But A Piece Of What Action?

I've got a single comment on the WNBA thus far - blech! Come on, now, I'm seeing way too many games with team shooting percentages below 40 percent. These women, in general, can't shoot!

Also, the officiating stinks. The quality leaves a lot to be desired - there are so many blown calls, it's hard to point anything out in particular. (I will grant that they are getting a little more consistent in what few recent games I've seen.)

And the officials are calling games like they were the NBA. There's way too much body contact, pushing and holding not being called. Come on, basketball is a graceful game for athletes, not a proving ground for women's rugby (which is what I swear I see a lot of).

After watching women's college basketball all these years (and I am actually a fan of that sport, too), this is no comparison. Women's college basketball is much better. And from what I can remember of the first season of the ABL, the other league, they were at least a little better than this.

Unfortunately, you see, you couldn't easily get the ABL on television, and ESPN rarely ever showed a highlight of a game. Oh wait, could that be because they were scheduled to broadcast WNBA games in the summer? (I'm not the only one to raise this issue, although I can't find the columnists' musings any more.) It's not like I can escape the ugly highlights of the WNBA on ESPN SportsCenter.

Further, the ABL has more of the better women players signed and playing. (In part because they pay better.) But you can't beat a better television contract and marketing machine. It's kinda like Mac OS vs. Microsoft Windows, or VHS vs. Betamax: just because you're better doesn't mean you're gonna win if you can't win mindshare. That's the problem the ABL has.

The Final Analysis

It's all fine and dandy if Washington wants a franchise. But there are limits to the quality of the pool of talent left. Each new team either league adds waters things down further. So I don't hold out high hopes for the quality of the WNBA (and if I ever get to see the ABL, them too) improving in the near term, with both leagues intent on expanding beyond reason.

So, the Washington ?? are likely to be a reality next summer. (Got an idea for a name? Send it to the mailing list. For more info, see Wizards Talk.) That's my best guess. Just don't hold me responsible for the quality of talent.

wtf 25 July 1997

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