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September 21, 2023

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Women’s professional basketball seen as inferior to men’s professional league

Monday night’s WNBA draft is just one of the many reminders that professional women’s basketball is clearly inferior to men’s.

The 2013 NBA draft drew in 2,999,000 viewers, making it the second most watched draft ever on ESPN. It is impossible to flip on ESPN without hearing about the NBA’s fresh batch of draftees for the next season, whether it’s an announcement that a player declared or analysts debating if a player should declare or not. In comparison, the 2014 WNBA draft Monday night barely got any recognition.

We live in a society where men are valued more than women. As a result of this, men’s sports are more highly valued than women’s. Quite frankly, anytime the WNBA’s name is even mentioned is in passing as a joke.

The WNBA’s regular season doesn’t officially start until May 16 and goes until August. That fact that its season takes place in the sport’s offseason says enough. Up until the professional level, women’s basketball is always played during the winter season along with men’s.

However, the WNBA has to wait until all other basketball is finished to even begin its season. One would think this would allow for the WNBA to claim more spots on national television, but still only a handful is even televised. It seems problematic to put off the women’s season entirely so the men can dominate the basketball world. Even when it’s time for the women to do so, they are still not recognized.

The average regular season WNBA game received 231,000 viewers and an average finals matchup had just 344,000 people tune in, according to SB Nation.

The NBA also has three network partners to help the sport’s popularity. Viewership of the games on TNT, ABC and ESPN was up 37 percent in the last decade, according to TNT alone averaged 2 million viewers in 52 telecasts for last season.

However, there seems to be hope on the horizon for the WNBA.

In 2013, the WNBA and ESPN signed a deal for the 2014 season in hopes to increase the sport’s popularity. With this deal, approximately 30 live games will be televised on ESPN, ESPN 2 and ABC which will include the finals. This appears to be something that will be great for the sport, but it also seems long overdue when compared to the coverage the NBA gets.

SB Nation claims that 2013 experienced a growth in viewership numbers following an all-time low average of 180,000 viewers in 2012. They attribute this to the rookie stars of the draft, Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner.

Though this may seem like nothing but good news, this too can be seen as problematic. Griner was, without a doubt, the most talked about player of the bunch because of the way she dominated the court. The only reason society had any sort of interest in her is because she made the women’s game look more like men’s with the way she dunked over other players.

Diggins and Delle Donne also became superstars for the program. The question is, though, were they valued so highly by mainstream media because of their pure talent or is it primarily because they were seen as two of the more attractive females the sport has seen in a while?

The fact that the game grew because of these three players specifically is, once again, great for the sport, but the reason why still oppresses the players. This sends the message that until the sport becomes more like men’s or the players are more pleasing for men to watch, the sport is of no importance to our society.

It seems that, until we live in a society where women are equal to men, the WNBA will always be inferior.

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