Thursday, July 18, 2013
Behind The Scoreboard
WNBA is stagnant
While it is true that the NBA season for the men has been over for about a month now, pro basketball is still very much a constant newsmaker. The NBA Summer League is really generating a mountain of attention and most fans are avidly following these teams which have rosters of mostly draftees, rookies and transferees.
The widespread publicity given the big boys’ summer camps is detracting from the other big roundball league of the summer, the WNBA. At its inception over a decade ago, the big women’s league burst onto the scene with energy and interest. The NBA took the gals under its wing, giving them status and support. But for the last few years, for a number of reasons, the league has become stagnant.
The league members of the two conferences appear constant at 12 members but revenues inuring to the roster members still leave a lot to be desired.
Most team members and coaches look to roster size as a major cause contributing to lackluster seasons. At one time roster strength was up to 13 players per team but was pared down in 2009 for economic and labor reasons. Of course, the season duration is nowhere near that of the NBA but neither is the pay. WNBA players with less than three years on the court earn a minimum of $37,900. With more than three years, $55,000. The cap for any player is $107,000 (movie money for the NBA).
Most WNBA players supplement their incomes by playing overseas in the off-season. Naturally this adds to the wear and tear on the ol’ “A” frame and also results in injuries. Take the defending champs, Indiana Fever, who has been playing with eight and nine players this season. Coaches complain that it is impossible to hold a viable and productive practice with less than 10 players.
Collective bargaining rules allow teams to carry 11 players, so it is easy to see why team roster expansions are gearing up to be a major point of contention when the new agreement is drawn up at the end of the season.
Another factor is the age of star players. There are only so many Brittney Griners out there and there are 39 players between the ages of 30 and 39. There are two stars (Sheryl Swoopes and Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who are 41).
Before anyone asks, the current season is about one third over with Atlanta leading the East and Chicago holding second. The Minnesota Lynx head up the West with the best record in the league and the L.A. Sparks trail them.
There has been talk of league expansion lately.
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