What can we say about W?
It’s the oldest operating women’s professional league in the country – and that alone is huge. With the women’s sports leagues struggling to last for more than a few seasons in recent decades, the WNBA can in many ways be the North Star.
The league, like most women’s sports organizations, is experiencing record growth. More people are watching. League project 2022 It averaged 403,000 viewers, or 20% more than last year. This resulted in an increase in overall viewership compared to last season.
Even better, not only are more people watching women’s professional basketball, but investing in it as well.
In February, the WNBA announced Closing its first-ever capital increase That got $75 million from some big heavyweight investors. Among them were sports giant Nike, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell and Lauren Powell Jobs.
The association’s commissioner, Kathy Engelbert, said: Announcing this feat. Engelbert is no ordinary commissioner. Prior to joining W, she spent 33 years at Deloitte, serving as the company’s first female CEO from 2015 to 2019.
League officials said the record-breaking investment will be devoted to initiatives such as branding, marketing, league globalization, and finding ways to grow and generate more revenue. In other words, making the league as attractive as possible for more investment. These steps may eventually resolve some of the league’s biggest deficiencies.
W, like any sports league, has no shortage of controversy. This is especially true of a league with athletes who have made speaking truth to power and lobbying for social justice the norm. Players routinely use their social platforms to demand change, including within the league itself.
The ongoing controversy that continued into the 2022 season is WNBA resistance to charter flights, which are prohibited by the union’s current collective bargaining agreement. In March, Sports Illustrated Publish a report which details how New York Liberty was punished for providing charter flights to its team. The team is owned by billionaires Joe and Clara Tsai, who also own the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center.
The issue resurfaced in May, when several players criticized the league for refusing to allow charter flights. After Washington Mystics goalkeeper Natasha Cloud entered the league’s health and safety protocol Criticize the league on Twitter “To fly us commercially during the pandemic” and after the mask-use mandates were dropped.
As the league heads into its next chapter, there are inevitable growing pains. Before the start of the 2022 season, for example, some of the top potential players in the leagues were cut short due to limited player rosters on WNBA teams. This has led many to claim more roster positions in teams or to W To consider expansion. Some players, including Chiney Ogwumike, even said league You will benefit from G Leaguesimilar to what the NBA has.
It will be interesting to see how the league continues to evolve as more organizations and people invest in the game. Even if you’re not a deep-pocketed billionaire, what a lot of people from all aspects of women’s sports have told me is this: The easiest way to invest in a women’s game is to show up for a game.
No need to take my word for it. You can see what W has to offer for yourself.
Women & Sport is a new column on NorthJersey.com dedicated to women’s sports from the league level to those in college and professionals.
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