Moving the WNBA Season to the Winter Isn’t the Answer

The GSC panel comments on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s latest idea to increase interest in the WNBA.

Despite its steady growth, the WNBA is unfortunately still losing money. One of the biggest reasons is its image problem, something which NBA commissioner Adam Silver conceded. Silver acknowledged that the biggest demographic who supports the WNBA is “old men who like fundamental basketball,” and the league has to do more to attract young people — particularly young women. In an effort to do this, Silver is considering moving the WNBA season from the summer to the winter, which could go one of two ways — since basketball fans are already used to watching basketball during the winter, the WNBA could draw more eyes; or, the WNBA could fall into the shadow of the NBA, college basketball, the NFL and even the NHL. Sp, should the WNBA move its season to the winter?

serge: I like that Silver is thinking about the possibility of improving the popularity of the WNBA, which shows that his head is in the right place. Unfortunately, the solution is not. The Fall through Spring window is already jam-packed. You have the back-end of the NFL season, the NHL and the NBA. Jamming the WNBA — the statistically less popular sport — in there would not do much for ratings, as most people will continue to watch the NBA over it.

I am not sure what the solution is either. I do think more people should watch the WNBA because it is appealing basketball. It is competitive. And, it is athletes performing at peak ability. It’s worth it if you’re a basketball fan. But, you don’t try and premiere an art-house indie flick on the weekend of the Avengers. Sure, the former may be more meaningful, poignant and ultimately more socially relevant than the latter, but the latter has explosions and stuff.

Brandon Anderson: I agree with Serge. I appreciate Silver thinking outside the box, but moving the season is not the answer here. Honestly, the timing of the WNBA season helps me be interested in it. What else am I watching in July and August, baseball? As a diehard basketball fan, I find myself missing the NBA and happy to tune in for some WNBA, and I have to say, I’ve watched a lot of the playoffs the last few years, and it’s fantastic competitive sports. No, it’s not the NBA. The athleticism is different when 90 percent of the players can’t just jump and dunk, but it forces a more fundamental game, and that’s entertaining too. Plus, the competitive level is off the charts in those big games. I enjoy watching it. But, I’m still not watching it up against March Madness or NBA playoffs, so why jam it into the winter?

One of my biggest annoyances with American sports is how crappy NHL and MLS are at scheduling things, always putting their biggest games up against the NBA playoffs and NFL Sundays, respectively. Hey NHL and MLS, I’m trying to watch you. Don’t make me pick, because we already know what I’m picking. Don’t you join that path too, WNBA.

Kyle McLaren: Absolutely not. I love Adam Silver, and I personally never watch the WNBA (stereotypical, I know), but this would kill the league. How many people who are not friends or family of the players involved would choose a WNBA game over an NBA game or a college game, for that matter? In the cities, fans would not attend games due to other sporting events being more worth their money. As for TV revenue, the WNBA is not exactly a beacon of good ratings and luxurious broadcasting deals. Now, imagine them competing for TV time against literally any other sport on at that time. Unless we are trying to convert TruTV to the WNBA channel, they won’t have a chance of survival.

Afi Ahmed: Long term, yes I agree with Adam Silver that it would be a great idea to move the WNBA season into the winter. But, this league has ways to go before it can rival any of the sports that happen during that time of the year. The WNBA is still fairly new, and its popularity is actually increasing every year. I personally do watch WNBA and women’s college basketball, and the people who don’t have probably never given it a chance. It’s such a beautiful game; once you stop comparing it to the these high flyers, you’ll enjoy it. The IQ and fundamentals displayed are simply amazing.

Seriously though, kudos to Silver for trying to grow the game and make it reach more people. But, the timing simply isn’t right.

‘The Junction’ is edited by Sandy Mui, who is the Facilitator of Special Projects for Grandstand Central. She takes pride in being a “multi-platform journalist” and has covered more than just sports: features, opinions, entertainment… you name it. You can follow her on Twitter here.