The Princess Points: Has women’s bball lost its luster?

By Princess McDowell, shades Magazine

I’ve been patiently waiting for women’s basketball to regain popularity for some time now.

Sometimes we manage to grab the spotlight for a quick second – like when the hype surrounding players like Candace Parker and Britney Griner was at its highest. But like a candle with a short wick, the excitement soon dies down until it’s completely gone and all its fans are left in the darkness.

That’s the downside of women’s sports … its popularity in America always seems to happen in cycles.

Basketball had its time in the limelight with the creation of the WNBA and gold medal success of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic teams. Soccer rode the wave provided by the women’s national team and Brandi Chastain’s sports bra. Even beach volleyball had its share of 15 minutes, but I can’t help but think it was elongated by the sun, sand and, oh yea, women in bikinis.

The exceptions to the rule have always been displays of dominance. Venus and Serena Williams help keep tennis relevant because each of them has shown that they can take over the entire sport. And the media had no choice but to laud the UConn women’s basketball team for their 78-game winning streak and consecutive winning seasons. Despite what you think about a sport, wins don’t lie.

The national women’s basketball team has a deep history of winning, so the opportunity was there this year for the team to at least share center stage with the men squads. There were enough old and new faces to keep the casual and enthusiast fan entertained.

Diana Taurasi, who has to serve as both the face of the Phoenix Mercury franchise and of the entire league, headlines the balanced team. Tina Charles was the league’s newest star when she went first in last year’s draft and is playing on her first national team. Another new, and young, face belonged to Maya Moore, who played on that dominant Huskies team.

The backcourt alone had a rematch of the WNBA Finals. The 2009 WNBA Rookie of the Year and Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry – who had the second-most steals in the tournament – teamed up with Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, who didn’t get to spend much time with USA Basketball because she was off winning a championship.

Tamika Catchings and Bird are now the veterans after being newcomers in 2002.

All those storylines should compensate for the fact that Candace Parker didn’t suit up because of a shoulder surgery.

But they didn’t.

Their eighth gold medal at the FIBA World Championships went largely unheralded. The nine straight wins, including a ridiculous win by 62 points, were bottom-of-the-page fodder.

And so another season of women’s basketball comes and goes without so much of a ripple in the public’s consciousness.

And sadly, I’m pretty much used to it.


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