Saturday, May 17, 2008

The WNBA: A women's league that's looking to make it

Many have got got tried, but most have failed.

That's the history of professional women's sport in a United States marketplace dominated by men's athletics.

According to the Major League Sports Almanac, 19 U.S. professional women's athletics conferences have got been not able to last. The WNBA, which observes the gap of its 12th season today, doesn't program to go No. 20.

The conference started with NBA support in 1997 but have stood on its ain since 2002. WNBA functionaries state they aren't worried the end is near.

Indeed, recent marks point to the league's health. A 14th squad — the Capital Of Georgia Dream — introductions today, and this year's bill of exchange featured the league's first early entry: No. One choice Candace Parker, who left Volunteer State to turn pro and was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks.

"We are growing; we are moving up," WNBA president Donna Orender said during a recent trip to Houston. "We are excited about the future."

The hereafter may be promising, but history isn't sort to women's athletics leagues.

Take for instance, the American Basketball League — a women's professional basketball game conference that emerged in 1996 and folded in 1998.

He have been thereABL co-founder Gary Cavalli said that while things look good for the WNBA now, there always will be questions. Cavalli is executive manager of the yearly Emerald Bowl college football game game in San Francisco.

"Whether or not a women's conference can endure is still up in the air," he said. "Certainly, the WNBA is doing a good occupation of it and I trust it makes stick around, but the inquiry of its length of service is there."

Cavalli said the WNBA's summertime season is another large issue.

"It's not played during the (traditional) basketball game season, and I personally don't believe that's A good thing," he said. "In the summer, people don't desire to be in a perspiring gymnasium or at topographic point observation TV, so that is a struggle."

The WNBA season, which runs until late September this twelvemonth owed to a interruption for the Olympics, have always taken place in the summertime to avoid competition. It also lets participants to vie overseas.

In Europe and Russia, women's basketball game participants do as much as $300,000 a year. The peak 2008 WNBA wage is just under $100,000.

Despite the fiscal difference, Comets forward Tina Homer Thompson said playing on foreign dirt is just not the same.

"This is home," said Thompson, who recently returned from playing overseas. "I'm American. My household is here. I learned to play the game here."

The Comets are breaking in a new place of their own. The squad is moving from Toyota Center to Reliant Arena, a determination that have some fans questioning the fiscal sturdiness of the Comets.

"It's a move that volition definitely be better for our finances," proprietor Hilton Robert Koch said. "We weren't selling out the Toyota Center, and Reliant volition let us to give a more than fan-friendly arena."

From 1997-2000, when the Comets won four consecutive titles, it wasn't unusual to see 12,000 fans at a place game. Last year, the Comets averaged between 7,000 and 8,000.

The WNBA states it's drawing more than fans than it did four old age ago. According to the league, regular-season attendance rose 2 percentage in 2007 from 2004, and television viewership on ESPN during the last WNBA postseason climbed 15 percent.

Fan of the splitThompson believes the WNBA is headed in the right direction. The split from the NBA was a move she supported because it forced the WNBA to stand up on its own.

"It takes a batch of strength," she said. "But we are going in the right direction."

The fresh human faces are drawing attention. The Comets' ticket business office studies their July 19 place day of the month against Parker's Sparks is selling vigorously.

"People desire to see these immature ladies who were college stars, like Princess Diana Taurasi, Candace Charlie Parker and Candice Wiggins," Cavalli said.

Despite a downswing in involvement since their heyday, the Comets anticipate to remain in Houston.

"I can't state it's simple to maintain the squad going," Robert Koch said. "We necessitate fans. We necessitate to win games. We necessitate to encompass the community, but we are covering all those bases."

He experiences it's his personal duty to do certain the Comets survive.

"I have got a daughter, and I necessitate her to cognize she can make or be anything," Robert Koch said. "These immature ladies work really hard, and I won't neglect them. They rate to be able to play and be function theoretical accounts for misses who desire to be jocks when they turn up."

His thought hits place with participants like Gopher State Lynx guard and former Cy-Fair standout Lindsey Harding, who grew up watching the Comets.

"This conference makes a batch for misses who have got a large dream," she said. "I'm so happy it's alive and well and I acquire to be a portion of it."

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