The Princess Points: Is Seattle’s Storm next victim of women vs. men?

By Princess McDowell, shades Magazine

On Thursday, the Seattle Storm won their second WNBA championship and the only emotion I feel is fear.

I’m afraid that one day, the Seattle Storm will no longer be in Seattle.

Granted, it’s probably an irrational fear, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still have it.

There’s nothing definite to suggest that this will happen. No reports have surfaced about offers to buy and relocate the team. Nowhere has it been said that the team is in any kind of financial turmoil. No ownership beefs or revenue scares outside what everyone in the sports has been going through because of the recession.

In fact, the reports suggest that the Storm’s ownership is stronger than ever, especially since money doesn’t seem to be the group’s main motivation. But there is a pattern.

The Houston Comets won the league’s first four championships and then folded December 2008 when new owners couldn’t be found. The Detroit Shock won three titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008 only to be moved to Tulsa over the off-season. The Sacramento Monarchs were champs in 2005, but couldn’t find owners after the Maloofs – who also own the Sacramento Kings – decided to no longer operate the team.

All three of the teams at one time had the league’s best players – Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes in Houston; Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford in Detroit; Ticha Penicheiro and Ruthie Bolton-Holifield in Sacramento – and all had extremely strong fan bases.

What the teams didn’t have, apparently, were owners with enough staying power, either financially or emotionally because those franchises no longer exist. (In fact, of the six teams that have won WNBA championships, three of them are defunct.)

Fast forward to the present and the Storm has been the team you don’t want to face in the league the last few years. They boast one of the most complete rosters with Lauren Jackson, arguably the best player in the world, and Sue Bird, the emotional backbone. They have a rabid fan base.

Factor in the ownership group that relocated the Shock to Tulsa is the same group who successfully uprooted the Supersonics from Seattle and I start to quake in my high tops.

Realistically, there’s no reason why this should happen. That group already has a WNBA team, there aren’t any more major cities in Oklahoma that they could move to (Muskogee Storm? Um, no.) and I’d like to think that they don’t have a vendetta against the city of Seattle or its heartbroken fans.

The Storm’s ownership group, led by Dawn Trudeau, has a multi-year plan in place to raise revenues, including using Trudeau’s ties to Microsoft to get the team’s jerseys sponsored.

However, things happen.

As a women’s basketball fan, you get used to the short end of the stick. Although we do now have the WNBA – and with it, the opportunity for hundreds of women to play professionally in their own country instead of overseas – we also have the stigma that our game isn’t as fun as its male counterpart. We have limited media coverage and very grassroots support. And we have less money.

All those things add to up to fear that another piece in the history of women’s basketball will be lost for good.


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