Commentary: League television partners drop the ball at the All-Star game
Let me begin by saying hello to everyone from my new home here at Hoopfeed.com. I want to thank Cheryl for helping me take the next step, and for bringing Dishin & Swishin to a new, all-inclusive, one-stop shop. You will be able to listen to the radio show here, as well as (hopefully) read my thoughts and highlights like you previously found on Swish Appeal.
This past weekend, the WNBA gathered their best non-injured players in San Antonio, and celebrated their 15 years of existence with the All-Star game and the unveiling of the Best 15 Players in league history. I have written previously that I feel the WNBA All-Star game is, in my opinion, more important for the league than for most any other sport, be it major or niche. When you have a television contract that only displays a few games on national, free television, this is a rare opportunity to showcase your best players all at the same time. The league needed to maximize that exposure, get the names and faces into the public eye, and to make sure those tuning in that are not hardcore fans get some name and team identification so they know when and where they can see these players again.
The players did their part. If you liked defense, you did not get much of that, but the game was close, the shooting was outstanding, and both the skills and the athleticism were apparent. Unfortunately, I think the gameâ€™s announcing really shot an air ball, and let the league down.
I didnâ€™t mind the in game interviews with the legends. They deserved the camera time and present a unique perspective on things when they are interviewed. However, itâ€™s the coverage of the actual game I was really disappointed in. I am not going to just criticize Dave Pasch and Carolyn Peck for their work. I do not know if it was network directive or a personal decision to really push the 15 years of the league during the broadcast, but in my opinion they violated the most important rule of covering a sporting event â€“ donâ€™t forget thereâ€™s a game going on.
It seemed the overwhelming majority of the broadcast was filled with discussion of the 15 years, the differences, the changes, the improvements, and the growth. The play by play seemed to consist of â€œCarson makes a threeâ€ followed by â€œTaurasi responds.â€ Rebounds? Passes? Tempo? You know, the nuts and bolts that make the WNBA game the game of basketball, just like the menâ€™s game. Forget about subs, they didnâ€™t mention one time when the wholesale substitutions changed lineups.
I cannot believe you would hear an NBA All-Star game covered like this one was. Hey, Iâ€™m one of the diehards. I know what Courtney Vandersloot and Penny Taylor look like. I knew when they were in. But what about those casual observers and fans the league talks about cultivating and getting to attend games? As Nate Parham of Swish Appeal commented, â€œI know these events are all fun and games and suchâ€¦ but how often is the WNBA on ABC this year? Three to five times total? If Iâ€™m a first time fan and Iâ€™m hearing the people who actually follow the game treat it like a creampuff league that allows the women to get some run, Iâ€™m going to have a hard time taking it seriously.â€
Angel McCoughtry made one of the most athletic plays youâ€™ll see this year. Instead of â€œwhat a shot by Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream, who took her team to the WNBA finals last year and is trying to lead them back to the playoffsâ€ we heard â€œthat was fun.â€ You can swap in â€œSwin Cash really wants that MVPâ€ â€œLiz Cambage is having so much funâ€ or â€œMaya Moore is [add superlative]â€ and thatâ€™s about the extent of what was said during the game.
This was a near â€œperfect stormâ€ handed to the league. NBA on lockout, NFL on lockout, a brutally hot streak throughout the country keeping people in air conditioned homes. A chance to reach those potential fans the league seeks. Iâ€™m afraid that the WNBAâ€™s television for the game partners let them down. I hope that they can focus on the game during the remaining ABC and ESPN broadcasts (both are owned by The Walt Disney Company), and showcase the league and the talent for what it is. Not the NBA, simply the best women basketball players in the world playing THEIR game.