Who Deserves Praise For The WNBA’s Progress?

This season the WNBA embarked on its 27th year of operation with much fanfare. The University of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark captured the nation’s attention as a box office scorer. She is a palatable personality that appeals to the masses of middle America. She brought many casual eyes to the college game, and has brought that same energy to the WNBA. However, the spotlight being shone on Clark, Angel Reese, and others is also a byproduct of other elements. The WNBA is experiencing a boom that it hasn’t prior, and it has way more than Clark to credit.

When it comes to record viewership, the WNBA has it this season. From its telecasts, to streaming, and  social analytics, engagement has been high across the board. For many years I was critical about how the WNBA was marketed. I felt that there were things that the players could do to also give their game more visibility. Over the last few years, I’d say that the league has taken to some of my sentiments. For instance, the ladies are now doing the walkthroughs at the beginning of the telecasts where cameras can see their outfits. They’re taking a page out of the NBA players’ playbook. Something that has been long overdue. Let us as fans in on who you are.

Something else that I’ve taken more notice of lately is how vocal and demonstrative current day WNBA players are. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t passionate and demonstrative players prior. For Christ’s sake, Terea Weatherspoon is my favorite all-time WNBA player. But I really don’t remember a time where we saw so much personality in the league. Teams have clearer identities as ever, and with the influx of this new class, there’s just no shortage of energy to feed off of. 

Personally, I love to see the scuffles. Give me the hard fouls! I think women deserve the same space to be aggressive that men have. It excites you as a fan. When I see that energy, it makes me feel like I’m right on the court battling too. Another thing that I can promise, is that the purer the competition, the higher chance that I’m not changing the channel. Having said that, I know that I’m not alone in feeling that way. That level of passion is continuing to help propel the league.

I’ve often conceptualized this period in the league’s history as a perfect storm. There’s such a wealth of talent in the WNBA that has helped get it to this point. The competition is fierce as ever. As seen in last year’s five game WNBA finals between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty, rivalries are a real thing. 

Where rivalry has met personality, and aggression, we have a WNBA product that has morphed into one of the more exciting products on modern day television. A league where players like A’ja Wilson and Angel Reese, among others, refuse to take it easy on the new golden goose, is a good thing. Genuine competition drives this all. As for who deserves the praise for this moment in the WNBA’s history, Caitlin Clark is a tangible part of that. But in its totality, it’s all of the great WNBA ladies who helped pave the way and push this league forward in their time. It’s because of Tina Thompson and Lisa Leslie. It’s because of Candace Parker and Maya Moore. The list can go on until we’re blue in the face. But it’s because of their talent, and a society that is finally willing to pay more attention and support that we all are able to enjoy “The W.”

Updated: June 5, 2024 — 12:01 pm