NCAA Women’s and WNBA Basketball

Kris and I are fans. We like to watch the women’s NCAA games and now that Kris’ sister, Pat, lives in our area we are watching the Chicago Sky in the WNBA. But women’s basketball has been mismanaged and Sally Jenkins has an excellent sketch of its problems.

In my view, women don’t play the game the way men do, they are not as physical or athletic and the women’s game has become too physical for the level of play. NBA players can wrestle their way to the hoop and it seems fair competition, women do the same and people end up all over the floor. So, I join Sally and others … and the financial mess is something that needs changing. Women skills have improved so much some of their games are more enjoyable to watch.

Here’s to the future of the WNBA and go Elena Delle Donne! Seen her? She makes everyone on her team better, like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Speaking of whom … there was no reason Americans did not see her play until the NCAA tournament.

If your TV clicker skipped right past a WNBA game, one reason may have been that you mistook it for rugby — unless you figured it for dodgeball. Fact: Women’s basketball is a beautiful game surrounded by ugly atrocities, from incompetent officiating to fiscal mismanagement. Is it too much to ask for decent referees who protect the shooters so that the audience may be entertained and sponsors attracted? Women’s basketball is at a plateau — a precarious one — and unless some real change is wrought soon, a sport with a small but devoted following will find itself shrinking….

How did a game Pat Summitt strove so hard to elevate to elegance become so bruising and even unsightly, with declining scoring and falling shooting percentages? That’s right. Despite the fact that women’s skills have soared in the hands of players such asCandace ParkerDiana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne, offense actually has suffered in the past 30 years. Here is a scandalous statistic: According to NCAA data, scoring has dropped by eight points per game since 1982. What’s more, the average field goal percentage in the women’s college game has fallen steadily and last season was at an all-time low of 38.9 percent….

The reason? Poor quality and cheaply paid officiating has transformed the game into a brawl, one far more physical than the NBA. There were fewer fouls called in the women’s game last season than at any time since the NCAA has kept the stat.

Here is another question. How is it that the sport Summitt slaved to build into a self-sufficient moneymaker has instead become a financial beggar?

Another scandalous statistic: The women’s NCAA tournament loses more money than any other women’s Division I championship event. To repeat, despite sold-out arenas of close to 20,000 and healthy ESPN ratings and rights fees, the women’s NCAA tournament loses money. The reason? Incompetence again. Sheer mismanagement.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • LT

    I think the reason for the financial issues is simple. These money is driven by advertisers which is driven by viewers. And no one wants to watch the WNBA or NCAAW. The market simply isn’t there for it. It’s the same reason The Beautiful Game isn’t on much in the US. Last the USMNT played Jamaica and it wasn’t on any station (even cable). Yet it was a good game (on the internet). But the money isn’t there to advertise on soccer because people don’t watch it.

    As for the brutality of it, I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch it. But that happens in football and basketball at all levels. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game these days. Less artistry and more brutishness. It hasn’t been good, but the viewers are there.

  • Clint_W

    Scot, did you see this in today’s NY Times?

    Ideas to Invigorate Women’s Basketball Follow Study


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