COMMENTARY | Currently, the WNBA is holding onto its television contract, readying for the May 24th start of the season, and impatiently awaiting the arrival of Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, and Elena Delle Donne.
These safe moves would be fine if the NFL were making them, but the WNBA's rocky history and uncertain future should propel the league towards more dynamic changes. I'm not suggesting an all-out throw-every-new-idea-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks scramble, but rather prospective changes that I would enjoy seeing the league experiment with.
The WNBA needs to build personality. If you don't believe me, go read the WNBA.com player bios. In addition to being almost unfindable, they seem to have been written by accountants, with pages of stats and a half-inch of personal narrative.
Do you remember the XFL? The gimmicky 'extreme' football league flamed out in 2001, mainly because it lacked an interesting, watchable alternative to NFL games. However, what it lacked in substance, it made up for in promotion-what if the WNBA allowed players to put anything they wanted (within reason) on the back of their jerseys?
The names, boasts, tributes, and other messages displayed would help enhance the individual personalities in the league and would help banish those who label it 'boring'. It would definitely drive jersey sales-an area where Adidas has completely dropped the ball.
Half of the jerseys are palatable and half are either painfully boring or don't quite work. The real issue is that Adidas clearly uses the same template over and over again, changing it slightly for each team. The color and style diversity of the NCAA Women's finalists this March should provide a good starting point towards giving each team individual personality.
Once each team has personality, the WNBA needs to move from being a follower to being a leader-instead of recycling and repurposing NBA ideas and systems, forge ahead and try new things.
Current NBA players as assistant coaches?
Four players on the court? What about six?
Courtside announcers/play-by-play personalities with handheld mics?
Lower the nets?
Lowering the nets happens to be the idea I like best. Being a volleyball coach has given me firsthand experience with men's and women's sports being played at different net heights, and the difference is dramatic enough to have created two different games-two different games that are unique and compelling in their own right.
Lowering the women's net would require tons of change at all levels, but I have no doubt that if the WNBA ever wants to get out from under the NBA's shadow and become profitable, some similar action will have to taken in order to create a unique and personality-rich league.
J. A. Tag lives in Redmond, WA and has been following the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Sonics/Oklahoma Thunder since he moved to the area in 2002.
- Sports & Recreation
- Skylar Diggins
- Brittney Griner