Several times during the past few weeks, Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop has been discussing the WNBA and its pros and cons in the mind of basketball fans. The WNBA game has been called too slow, too boring, and a general waste of money.
On Monday, Henry posted two letters he received on the topic. In the first, one commenter suggested that the existence of a women's professional basketball league is hurting the NBA's developmental league by siphoning funds that could be better used in retaining male talent and helping to develop these men into potential NBA players. In the second, a reader writes in that the WNBA is a violation of the Civil Rights Amendment in that they don't let men play in the league.
As ridiculous as the second letter writer was on the surface, perhaps he had merit. Perhaps a solution to the lack of interest in the WNBA is that they should play men.
Currently, the NBA and its holdings (the WNBA and the Developmental League) hold the majority of basketball interest in the US. There are, however, several minor league promotions across the country. Rather than trying to compete with the NBA, these leagues or independent teams usually try to stick to a niche or a location not near NBA action. How soon until one of these promotions goes co-ed?
In my basketball playing days, I’ve played in several leagues that featured roster spots for women. These women usually were pretty good as compared to the guys. Although most played either point guard or shooting guard, a few were strong enough to bang with the boys for rebounds.
Perhaps an independent league could bridge the gap between non-NBA ready talent and the women’s leagues. I think, for one, that recent WNBA MVP Candace Parker could definitely play among men. She might not be able to guard Kobe Bryant or shoot over Dwight Howard, but she and other women could definitely make a statement for their game by competing with lesser talented men. Of course, certain rules may have to apply, such as a 6’6 height limit similar to that imposed in the Philippines, but after the playing field is leveled, I think the women can more than hold their own.