Tag Archives: wnba

What to Watch During (and after*) Quarantine

By Griffin Olah

Submitted: April 16, 2020/Published: June 2, 2020

Griffin is a second-year undergraduate BGSU student from North Ridgeville, Ohio. He is a Sport Management major and a Journalism minor. His primary sports interests are baseball and football, both collegiate and professional, but he is also interested in basketball, MMA, boxing and hockey.

[*Editor’s Note: With apologies to Griffin Olah and readers of Maxwell Media Watch, this insightful entry was submitted during a semester when everything suddenly went online. I should have published it earlier, but hopefully it still provides useful tips for media alternatives to live sporting events in the meantime. N. Spencer].

If you’re anything like me, you miss sports. With COVID-19 shutting down every sports league (we’ll ignore Dana White’s “fighting island”), I need something to quench my thirst for more sports. Luckily, there are quite a few alternatives that can get us all through quarantine while not spending a fortune.

One of the first things I discovered, with the help of Twitter, was the massive MLB library on YouTube. That’s right, Major League Baseball stores broadcasts on both its own YouTube channel, MLB, and on another, the MLB Vault (Langs et. al, 2020). This allows you to go back to see any memorable game in MLB history that has aired on television. Personally, I’ve enjoyed myself watching Game 7 of the 2016 World Series (the game ended with the rain delay), the 2017 Indians winning streak and the wildly entertaining 2019 Home Run Derby match-up between Joc Pederson and Vlad Guerrero Jr. There’s enough there to spend entire days watching baseball, and maybe you’ll even find some hidden gems that you forgot happened.

The NFL has a similar vault of games, but they house it in its own website, NFL Game Pass. Although it usually requires a subscription, the NFL made Game Pass free to all users through May 31, 2020 (NFL.com, 2020). Game Pass has an archive of all games played since the 2009 season, from preseason all the way through the playoffs and the Super Bowl. It also has access to many of NFL Network’s series, including A Football Life, America’s Game, SoundFX and more. I’ve spent a lot of time watching old Browns replays, including the 2018 game against the New York Jets that debuted Baker Mayfield, the 2009 game against the Chiefs that Jerome Harrison played out of his mind, and the America’s Game episode of the 2009 Saints. 

If you aren’t against spending money, however, the ever-popular ESPN+ might be for you. For only $5 a month, you can have access to a massive library of ESPN shows, replays and films. ESPN has streaming deals with many collegiate sports conferences, the NHL, UFC and boxing organizations, allowing many past games and competitions on their platform. I’ve spent hours in the 30 for 30 library and watching old UFC fights featuring Stipe Miocic. If you’re still bored and you want some non-sport action to watch, ESPN+ also can be bundled with Disney Plus and Hulu for $12.99 a month. 

If live action is what you’re craving, however, then eSports might fill that void for you. At the forefront of eSports is NASCAR, with its iRacing Pro Invitational Series. Using real drivers on iRacing, a platform most already use for practice, NASCAR is simulating the missed events of their season (Nicholson, 2020). The simulated races are also aired on Fox, so NASCAR fans can watch just like any other race.

Going along with eSports, the MLB has taken initiative with its MLB The Show Player’s League. Each team has selected one player to represent them through a series of three-inning games on the popular video game franchise (Toribio, 2020). Each player streams their games on their own Twitch page, which works similar to YouTube, so you can hear their commentary in real time. Cincinnati Red pitcher Amir Garrett and Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo have already proven to be both wildly entertaining to watch and incredibly good at the game. I’ve watched some highlights, and I’ll be tuning in whenever Garrett and Gallo take the virtual field again.

Finally, the NBA has attempted to offer another alternative with live action- a HORSE tournament. Current and former NBA and WNBA stars are pitted against each other in the classic basketball game in each of their home gyms (Gartland, 2020). While reception has mostly been negative, with many people claiming the games are too boring or citing internet problems, basketball fans may still be enjoyed. I haven’t tuned into any of the matchups, but if you’re starved for some basketball, it might be right for you. The competitions do air live on ESPN, so anyone interested in watching will have to tune in in real time.

Obviously, there is no true alternative to live sports action, but we can come close. Whether replays are your thing or not, there are tons of options to watch until we get sports back, whenever that may be. Until then, take a look through all of these services and find your favorite, or maybe find something new that’s not discussed here. Either way, good luck with filling your sports void and I hope these can get us all through until the return of sports.

References

Gartland, D. (2020, April 13). ESPN’s NBA HORSE competition was tough to watch. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2020/04/13/espn-nba-horse-tournament-highlights

Langs, S., Simon, A., Randhawa, M., & Catania, J. (2020, March 14). One classic game to watch online from each MLB team. MLB.com. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/news/classic-mlb-games-to-watch-online

NFL.com. (2020, March 18). NFL offers fans free access to NFL Game Pass. NFL.com. Retrieved from: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000001106855/article/nfl-offers-fans-free-access-to-nfl-game-pass

Nicholson, J. (2020, March 18). NASCAR launches eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. eSports Insider. Retrieved from: https://esportsinsider.com/2020/03/enascar-iracing-pro-invitational-series/

Toribio, J. (2020, April 10). 30 stars to compete in ‘MLB The Show’ league. MLB.com. Retrieved from: https://www.mlb.com/news/30-stars-compete-in-mlb-the-show-players-league

WNBA Attendance and Ratings Drop

by Angeline Seames

With it being the 20th Anniversary of the WNBA, the program is targeting a new branding effort. A drop in viewership and the lowest attendance rate since the beginning of the WNBA.

The WNBA had an average 7,318 fans a game, which is down 3.4 percent from last season and the lowest in the leagues history. Not only did attendance watching the game live fall, but viewership also fell by 14 percent (an average of 202,000 viewers). ESPN and ESPN 2 aired 11 games during the regular season, while NBA TV televised over 40 games and the rest covered by ABC.  Over the past the years the WNBA attendance has had its ups and downs starting off in 1997 with 9,662 average of attendance and then a 12.4 percent increase of 10,864 average attendance, which was the highest ever in the WNBA in 1998.

Compared to the NBA, TV this season increased 8 percent to a an average of 56,000 viewers from the 52,000 last season. Media wise, WNBA.com grew by 26 percent, Instagram followers were up 51 percent and 9 million likes and followers across all social media.

The biggest drop in the WNBA was made by the San Antonio Stars, with an 8-26 record in the WNBA and a 37 percent drop in attendance compared to last year. With this the Stars were forced to relocate because of the team’s home court being renovated. While the Phoenix Mercury led attendance for the WNBA with an average of 9,946 despite not having the biggest increase in attendance compared to the L.A. Sparks.

As the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team has come off multiple championship seasons, the WNBA and the head of business operations for the Mercury hope to build momentum and make fans want to attend all the games that the WNBA host. The WNBA hopes after the postseason in October to study whether they can eventually grow the league to bring in an expansion committee.

In the end, the WNBA will have to figure out how they are going to save the league from the drop of attendance and viewership all together. If not, the WNBA may have fewer teams playing, increased ticket prices, and the threat of doing away with the WNBA all together. Hopefully the WNBA will figure out a smart way to increase the WNBA brand all together and save the league.

 

Diana Taurasi’s Decision: What It Means For The WNBA

This piece is written by Alexx Klein. She was a journalism major at Indiana U with a sport marketing and management concentration. Currently she serves as the Athletic Communications GA where she is the primary SID for cross country and swim/dive. Previously, she worked as the media relations intern in the IU athletic department, as well as the PR intern for the Washington Mystics. This summer she will further continue her WNBA experience and serve as the PR intern for the Indianapolis Fever. 

By Alexx Klein

February 9, 2015

While it may not have been at the top of the average sports fan’s radar, the Diana Taurasi decision was one that holds significant impact for the future of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). This blog is not meant to criticize or condone the WNBA’s highest-paid player’s decision, but rather to voice my concern for what this means moving forward.

To backtrack, Taurasi recently announced that she would be sitting out the entirety of the 2015 WNBA season to focus on herself, her family and honing her basketball skills. How she will be able to do that is because her Russian team she plays for in the off season offered to pay her more to sit out than she would make playing in the WNBA this season.

Taurasi wrote a letter to the Mercury fans and in it, stated that, “The year-round nature of women’s basketball takes its toll and the financial opportunity with my team in Russia would have been irresponsible to turn down. They offered to pay me to rest and I’ve decided to take them up on it. I want to be able to take care of myself and my family when I am done playing” (Taurasi, 2015).

It is the culture within the WNBA for athletes to play overseas during the winter because of the short WNBA season (four months). Taurasi’s team is UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, where she is making about $1.5 million, according to a Washington Post article. Her salary with the Phoenix Mercury amounts to just less than $107,000 a year, which is less than the league maximum available.

So what can be done?

ESPN’s Kate Fagan suggested a restructuring of salaries within the league. In the 2014 season, there were about 40 players receiving close to the league max, which breaks down to 3-4 “max” players on each team and if anybody has watched a WNBA game you know that is definitely not the case. Fagan’s article suggests that there should only be 12 players in the league to receive that type of money: one on each team.

If the NBA doesn’t pay Cleanthony Early (a mediocre, at best, player for the Knicks who very few have heard of) the same as Lebron James, then why pay average WNBA players the same as its stars? Yet that’s what the league chooses to do.

She also goes as far to say that the highest paid member of the team should not be the coach, it should be the player, like it is in most other professional leagues. You’d be hard pressed to find a sport where the coach makes over twice the salary as his/her players do.

If Taurasi’s decision to sit sparks other WNBA stars into following her lead, then the league needs to implement a solution sooner than later. Other players have been offered money by their overseas team to sit out the WNBA season, Taurasi is just the first to take the deal.

Without the Taurasi’s, Britney Griner’s, Elena Della Donne’s, Skylar Diggins’ and Maya Moore’s of the league, the WNBA loses a large chunk of its entertainment value and that is where the downward slope would begin. Without fans to consume the product, there is no revenue coming in from ticket sales, apparel or concessions, and with only half of the teams currently turning a profit, the league cannot afford to take such a financial hit. As stated by a Deadspin article, if the players “begin to make decisions based solely on finances, there may not be any players left” (Draper, 2015, para 11).

Is this simply an issue of money or do you think the athletes are actually concerned about their long-term health? Is it right for a coach to be making two or three times more than these star athletes in the league? Do you think the salary reallocation proposed by Kate Fagan is a good solution?

References:

Boren, C. (2015, Feb. 4). Diana Taurasi’s decision to skip this season is sobering message for WNBA. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2015/02/04/diana-taurasis-decision-to-skip-this-season-is-sobering-message-for-wnba/

Draper, K. (2015, Feb. 3). Diana Taurasi’s Russian Team Is Paying Her To Skip The WNBA Season. Dead Spin. Retrieved from http://deadspin.com/diana-taurasis-russian-team-is-paying-her-to-skip-the-w-1683643165

Fagan, K. (2015, Feb. 4). Diana Taurasi’s decision to sit out should spark WNBA salary changes. ESPNW. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/id/12272036/diana-taurasi-decision-sit-spark-wnba-salary-changes

Taurasi, D. (2015, Feb. 3). Diana Taurasi’s Open Letter To Phoenix Mercury Fans. Arizona Republic. Retrieved from http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/wnba/mercury/2015/02/03/diana-taurasi-open-letter-to-phoenix-mercury-fans/22808453/