Why You Should Care about USA Women’s Basketball

On August 7, 2012 by Kim

Sue Bird is largely considered the best point guard in the WNBA

I recently had a debate with someone about the merits of watching Women’s basketball. I was trying to tell him that the US women’s team was definitely worth watching, but even as an avid basketball fan, he remained skeptical. Many of you probably see my posts about the games or about the Seattle Storm and scoff at me. But, take a moment and consider what might be leading you to these feelings. Here’s a couple of the arguments my coworker had for me and my ways to overcome them.

1. It’d be like watching the Harlem Globe Trotters play a high school basketball team.

Game 1: Men by 27, women by 25

Game 2: Men by 47, women by 52

Game 3: Men by 83, women by 31

Game 4: Men by 5, women by 27

Game 5: Men by 29, women by 48

The USA men’s basketball team averages each win by 38.2 points and the women by an average of 36.6 points. On the one hand, you have the men’s team, who is all anybody is talking about. They are comparing themselves to the 1992 Dream Team. They get interviewed, featured, and celebrated for their excellence.

The women, on the other hand, aren’t worth watching because of how good they are? Excellence, in any avenue but especially at the Olympics, should be celebrated. If you agree with point A, you should question yourself and why you still care so much about the men’s team, but not the women’s.

2. The men’s team is more entertaining.

So these boys can dunk the ball and do cool tricks? So is that what basketball is about for you? Do you watch basketball to watch the star make a cool dunk? Or do you love the game? If you only cared about tricks, you might as well just watch the Harlem Globe Trotters.

The San Antonio Spurs are a team known for playing traditional basketball. They are all about defense and running plays. That’s what it is like to watch the women’s game. They are playing basketball and they are playing it well. To say that the women are not interesting probably means you just haven’t tried watching a game.

MOREOVER and most importantly: this is the Olympics. The commentators and producers main goals are to make this entertaining for you. I started watching Men’s Water Polo the other day and was told backstories on the team, given an overview of who to watch and told what the major rules were to pay attention to. The Olympics is the best place in the world to make people care. Do people watch gymnastics or swimming all year round? No, probably not. The stories about the people drive you to tune in and cause you to care.


They look pretty entertained to me

So what makes women’s basketball different? What makes you turn a blind eye? What makes it not worth your time, energy or effort?

The commentators, at least for the first couple of games, did not put any effort into making the women’s team sound interesting. In fact, the lack of media coverage has been a point of contention for some supporters.

In fact, in the exhibition game that was aired on ESPN2 of the US playing Britain, the announcers confused “Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) with Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) multiple times, Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) with Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), and even criticized Charles for not “establishing” herself in the game after mistaking her for Fowles throughout the majority of the first half. These are the best women’s basketball players in the world, and in front of a national audience the commentators couldn’t even identify them correctly.” Imagine for a second if a commentator confused Mckayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber. How embarrassing would that be? And, you would notice because they do such a good job establishing these new personalities for you. Now, imagine if the commentators confused Lebron James and Kobe Bryant? How big of an uproar would that cause?

Kicking ass an taking names

In fact, the first US Women’s Olympic game played, the entire halftime was spent analyzing the men’s team. There wasn’t a single mention of the game actually taking place. NBC didn’t even try. They know the men are popular and they know people will be interested in the men. So why try to make the women seem interesting? Why try to give them a dedicated audience?

In the Olympics, you can find any sport entertaining given the right framework of producers. So it’s not entirely your fault but the commentary is getting better. They might actually tell a backstory or two soon. Who knows? Maybe we’ll even hear a standard sob story!

3. No one watches women’s basketball

Besides my point above about watching unusual sporting events during the Olympics, people do watch the women’s games. Well the USA Men’s team does.

Sue Bird said, “To be honest, I think men’s basketball players are the most appreciative of women’s basketball players in the world. I can tell by what they say, what they know.” And many players have tweeted about their games, including Lebron JamesChris Paul and Deron Williams. These are some of the best players in the world and they are watching because they appreciate basketball.

4. There’s no way they are going to lose, there’s no competition

When I asked my coworker who could compete against the US Men’s team, he really could only cite one or two teams. Did you know that women’s basketball is bigger in Russia than it is in the US? Did you know that the Australian team has been practicing together for months because their star players took off the first half of the WNBA season? Did you know that France is considered to be a lethal underdog? There are three teams who all stack up reasonably well against the US. And all four of those teams will be in the semi finals.

So how about you do me a favor and watch the next game. Just tune in, check it out and see why this team is so good. The US plays Australia in the semi-finals on Thursday. Just watch.

If you want to read some people who can probably write better on these subjects, check out these articles:

If you don’t know Team USA women by now, will you ever?

The USA Women’s Basketball Team’s Quest for a Fifth Consecutive Gold Should Be a Bigger Deal

Coach Keeps Talking; Team Keeps Winning

Image sources: Storm basketball and Jesse D. Garrabrant /NBAE/Getty Images – I obviously do not own these images and mean no copyright infringement.

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