<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5529474\x26blogName\x3dDimmy+Karras\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2234159095245132931', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sheryl Swoopes

Apparently the WNBA MVP has something in common with many of the league's fans: she's a lesbian!

The poor league, what are they to do?

The news could be particularly perplexing for the WNBA, which has struggled to both recognize the homosexual element connected to its league and grow its fan base. Ironically, in its infancy, the WNBA marketed a pregnant, married Swoopes to put a heterosexual face on its promotional campaign. Now the league, which will play its 10th season next summer, has to decide what to do now that one of its best and most recognizable players has announced she's gay.

I don't know, maybe they should just fold up the league and all go find Jesus.

That silly passage I blockquoted reflects an unfortunate reality about the mass marketing of women's pro sports. The only way they can get attention is through either a battle-of-the-sexes dynamic (see: Annika Sorenstam playing the men) or raw sex appeal (see: Anna Kournikova). The patriotism angle can work in things like the Olympics and World Cup, and in artsy non-sports like figure skating the ladies can do well for themselves too. But for pure physical ability and skill, it is generally preferable to watch sports played by men rather than women, and the free market abundantly reflects that.

Women's basketball isn't so exciting because the players' athleticism is equivalent to watching guys in a JV high school game, and nothing can be done about that. So we end up with silly WNBA advertisements featuring Tina Thompson in a cocktail dress. In a perfect world, athletes' sexual preferences would be part of the personal information consumers don't need to know anything about in order to enjoy the product. But the marketing of women's basketball is far from achieving this ideal due to the product reality. The result is people will be interested in Sheryl Swoopes and the sexuality of other players.

Still, in light of the marginal status of the WNBA and the different locker room environment facing women as opposed to men, this is nothing close to as significant as a major male athlete coming out. When that happens, it will be very interesting.