I am going to get right to it: If you aren’t watching the WNBA playoffs, what are you doing with your time?! I really am trying to understand. There are 24 hours in each day, 365 days in a year and 52 weeks in a year. You have time to do all that other stuff later. The WNBA playoffs are the hottest ticket in town. The numbers don't lie. Media outlets report that an average of 379,000 people have been watching the games. This represents an all-time high number of viewers. So if you aren't watching, apparently you didn't get the memo. I am writing this blog to make sure you understand the assignment. The WNBA finals are showcasing the athleticism of women at the highest level and it is a sight to behold!
I graduated from the University of South Carolina and unless you live under a rock you know that they are ranked #1 in women’s college basketball in the country. Of course, much of their success is due to their phenomenal coach and lady of many accolades, Dawn Staley. However, there was a player who was once ranked #2 in the country, who decided that the best place for her to play college ball was in her home state which just happened to be South Carolina. Everybody wanted A’ja Wilson. What she did in foregoing attendance at the typical powerhouse (uh…Connecticut. Sorry Geno, not sorry!) was bold and brave. Did I mention I’m from South Carolina? The dynamic duo of Staley and Wilson won the National Women’s Basketball Championship in 2017. (The Gamecocks also won the championship this year. Props to Player of the Year Aliyah Boston!)
After winning the 2017 championship, A’ja was drafted as the number one overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces. In this year's WNBA playoffs. A’ja and her Las Vegas Aces are playing the Seattle Storm (much respect to Sue Bird). The other series has the reigning champion Chicago Sky (again, much respect to Candace Parker) playing the Connecticut Sun.
Back to my original point. These playoff games are everything. The arenas are packed, and the women are straight out BALLING! This past Sunday’s game was broadcast on ABC, and it delivered. The game was a nail-biter, went into overtime, and best of all the Aces won!!
I have been following the WNBA and vividly remember when the stands were empty, and it looked like few people were interested. To be honest, I felt like such a traitor back then. I watched NBA games like my life depended on it (still do) and would frequently just watch a few minutes of the WNBA (that’s when I could catch it on TV) before flipping the channel. Sometimes finding out when a game would be broadcast was like searching for a needle in a haystack.
I didn’t know then what I know now, that when you put essential support (i.e., dollars) into the sport, and even the playing field, the overall experience is significantly improved. I applaud the NBA for their support and investment in the WNBA. I know there is still inequity; however, when we are fair in our assessment, the NBA is moving the ball forward in a big way in the women’s sports market. I am now making my calendar based on when the WNBA games are on and when they begin. (That other stuff can wait.) When the games start, I am in my seat, primed for the action to begin. Which brings me to my earlier point: What are you doing with your life if you aren’t watching? You are missing women at their best and I, for one, am here for all of it!