THE VAULT

The WNBA: Fundamentally Boring
July 24, 2008 by Damien Atlas Sports Monkey

I love women, unless they play professional basketball. I’ve never paid much attention to women’s professional basketball. I guess I’d rather watch children cross a busy highway. At least with the children, there’s hope someone will eventually stop them. Who’s going to stop the WNBA? Probably no one, because while people actually care about children, no one cares about the WNBA.

In reality, there are a few who do care about women’s professional basketball. I’ve heard many of them talk about how WNBA competitors play at a very high level and that their fundamental skills are as good, if not better, than NBA athletes, because of the lack of emphasis on flashy maneuvers. I’ll counter that with the fact that no one give a crap about their fundamentals. Seriously, no one cares. At all. Not even a little bit. I hear the Paraplegic Basketball Association has some solid fundamentals but I don’t think I’ll be watching that, either.

WNBA players may perform at a high level, but it’s a dubious claim that they have better fundamentals than NBA athletes because they don’t focus on the flashy aspects of the game, like dunks, ally-oop passes, etc. It’s like the marketing geniuses of the WNBA started spinning this complex web of idiocy to blind people into believing it’s actually a good thing that no one in the WNBA does all of the entertaining stuff fans enjoy. Next thing you know, these geniuses will be selling porn movies with all the sex removed and telling you it’s actually better that way, but we all know the last time someone tried that, the results were “Dawson’s Creek”. It somehow sucked and didn’t suck, simultaneously.

It’s hard to get really interested when every time a player dunks during a game—twice in league history—it’s an actual news story. The NBA has dunk contests, where if a guy jumps, passes the ball through his legs and reverse dunks the ball, it’s just kind of OK. Who is going to get excited about someone barely getting their hand over the rim to “slam” it home? Not me, that’s for sure. I don’t think I could live in a world where a dunk was some sort of mythical creature only sighted every few years, like Madonna’s acting career.

Well, the WNBA was finally able to do something that interested me recently: a fight! Yeah, a good old-fashioned brawl. The strangely similarly-themed Sparks and Shock went at it near the end of their game a few nights ago. Arms were wildly flailing. Players went flying to the ground. One player even had to leave in a wheelchair, possibly to join the Paraplegic Basketball Association. It was compelling television, or at least it would have been, if I had actually been watching the game and didn’t just catch the whole thing over the Internet afterwards.

Regular fights could have finally made the WNBA interesting (check out the rising popularity of the UFC and domestic violence), but it looks like the league doesn’t know what’s actually good for itself. They have suspended ten players that participated in the melee, sending a message to the players and fans that entertaining them will not be tolerated, unless it’s the guy with the t-shirt canon launching shirts into the stands. It’s a pretty grim situation, but one of the few grim situations that can actually be improved with a few hard punches to the face and a collection of bloody noses. It’s an opportunity that is slipping through the WNBA’s hands. Too bad it’s not better at the fundamentals.

~Damien Atlas Sports Monkey