One of the many insightful observations of Maya Moore in her essay about WNBA invisibility was that players need to be three-dimensional:
But even off the court, there are so many amazing people in the WNBA who don’t get enough praise for what they’re doing in their community or for being the role models that we are. Those things matter, too. Those things make you more invested in the game. When you feel like you know somebody or there’s something that you admire about a player off the court as well as on, you’re going to watch. When you know the women on the court stand for things worth believing in, you’ll take your kids and then they will take theirs.
Think about what you know about LeBron James. Now think about what you know about Diana Taurasi. Or Sue Bird. Or Seimone Augustus.
What do you know about me?
Indeed. Val Ackerman’s White Paper found that fans of women’s basketball are more interested in the personal stories of players than fans of men’s hoops.
So give us some. And let’s keep it real – don’t just give us the fluffy stuff.
We know Tamika Catchings does more charity work in one year than most people do in a lifetime.
We know Tina Charles is astoundingly generous.
But what do players think of the rioting around the country? What are their favorite foods? Bad habits? Who do they hate to play against, and why? Who are they going for tomorrow – Mayweather or Pacquiao? What was the worst experience of their lives, and how did they get through it?
Let prospective fans see a full person, and they may just be inspired to watch more games. Don’t those tearjerker biographies during the Olympics make us sit in our chairs long enough to see the game or race that the featured athlete is in? You bet.
Maybe the WNBA is afraid to “scare” away audiences by showing them anything less than the goodness of players. Know this: the American public has a short memory, and they are forgiving.
Cheyenne Parker was kicked off of Middle Tennessee’s team a few months ago for alleged repeated marijuana usage. But that didn’t stop her from being chosen in the first round of the WNBA draft.
Maybe there is hesitation to highlight lesbian players, for fear of reinforcing a stereotype.
Seimone Augustus and LaTaya Varner got engaged a couple years ago, and there has been no anti-Augustus movement. Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson were both arrested last week after physically fighting at their home, but you don’t hear fans of the two denouncing them.
I work at a high school, and trust me: kids respect people who are real. So do adults.
WNBA players, we’re ready for you, warts and all. Don’t be afraid to let those opinions and imperfections show; we all have them.
I love people quirks, which has lead me to write a number of stories highlighting said quirks. This includes one about pregame team rituals.
What did I learn about Maya Moore from that story? I learned that she is goofy-silly, funny, and that she describes her superstitions as matter-of-factly as some describe dinner. When I tried to take a picture of her spinning on her butt, she got someone to stand between me and her so I couldn’t do it. I was so amused.
Let’s hear more about things like that. I guarantee it will get people in seats.