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For those about to hate...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:53 PM
Ahh, the haters.

Every sport has them. With the advent of the internet and its inherent anonymity, fans and non fans alike take to message boards, blog posts and letters-to-editors in full force.

However, the haters of the WNBA can seem like the most prevalent at times, and ironically, the most boring.

I say that because most of the haters on the WNBA have been using the same argument since the inception of the league, and I use the term argument quite loosely. It’s in part due several reasons; the ignorance of those who dislike women’s basketball, the fear men feel when females appear to do something as good or better than them, and the fact that somewhere along the line, our society felt condescending statements about women’s sports are par for the course.

Yet, even after 15 years, the statements from the haters remain the same. It’s as if someone made a list, and have been passing it along at some kind of secret society meetings for WNBA haters. That might be a little on the conspiracy theory side of things, I know.

But really, is there any other way to explain it?

I too, have grown tired of the haters and their useless statements.

So, in an effort to silence the haters once and for all (lofty, I know) I have put together a collection of those common statements by the WNBA haters and presented sound arguments that point out the flawed, weak and antiquated reasoning that the haters tend to subscribe to.

1. No one cares about the WNBA.

This is the mantra of the haters. They love to use this one, commonly followed by “is the WNBA still around?” I’ve got news for you, the league has been around 15 years, has well established teams and a strong fan base supporting it. Don’t believe me? Check out the Rebkell message boards or the WNBA message boards. Run WNBA through youtube and check out the fan made videos. While it is true the fan base for the WNBA is not as large as other sports, it is there, it is strong, and it cares about the league, more than you know. The WNBA has experienced substantial growth in every media channel, live games, and web streams.

Denying that isn’t going to change anything.

2. It’s boring, they don’t dunk.

While there is some truth to the latter part of this statement, the two together, (i.e. boring and dunk) don’t necessarily justify the statement as a whole. Dunking is a part of basketball, and while the women’s game may not get above the rim as much as the men’s, dunking is not a necessary part of the game. Dribbling, shooting, rebounding, ball handling – yes, all necessary, which the WNBA has plenty of. But dunking, as entertaining as it is, is more of an added bonus. If the one reason you watch basketball is for the dunks, then my friend, you are a fan of dunks, not of the game of basketball. Professional athletes playing basketball can be quite exciting, no matter what gender they are.

3. None of the women in the WNBA are attractive.

This is one of those statements that just makes absolutely no sense, and is not to mention, pointless. Professional athletes in the WNBA are not competing in a beauty contest. They are there for two reasons: 1) to play basketball and 2) to win. They are not there to impress fans with anything but their ability and skill. If you are looking for scantily clad women being quasi-athletic, do us a favor, stay home and watch reruns of Baywatch.

4. The WNBA fans don’t even defend their own league as much as fans of other leagues do.

To an small (quite small) extent, I agree with this. But there is a reason: When you’ve yelled at a brick wall for 15 years, you just get tired of it. The haters on the WNBA, be it professional journalist or would be blogger, have been using the same tired, recycled, pointless drivel since the inception of the league. After 15 years, fans get tired of trying to defend it, when it seems as if the ignorance about the WNBA seems to spread like a disease, with no cure. Fans of the WNBA tend to put their energy where it matters; supporting the teams and athletes they love.

5. Any good high school team or recreational league team could beat a WNBA team.

Nope, no, nada. They couldn’t. Not even close. Plus, the teams in the WNBA shouldn’t have to prove themselves by inviting a high school team down for a game.

Why?

These athletes are professionals who have busted their backsides making it to where they are. Most of them have toiled though college and even playing overseas for a couple of season before getting a shot in the WNBA. Your high school team has yet to even put in that amount of work, or earn the right to even step foot on to a court with these professional athletes. Amateurs who do get burned.
It’s not even close to true; let it go.

6. I like the WNBA, really, but I never go to games because of (insert reason 1 – 5 here)

Oh, so you’re like starburst; a walking contradiction? Jeff Perlman is a great example of this. He writes a piece sounding like he drinks the haterate regularly, then promptly contradicted himself, saying how big of a supporter of the WNBA he is. While I know fans of teams who stay loyal and are also indeed some of the most critical, there is a difference here between them and Mr. Pearlman. Fans are extremely critical of their teams because they want them to be better. Mr. Pearlman is a critic who, while having positive opinions about the WNBA, puts most of his energy trying to undermine it.

It’s kind of like a coach telling his team, “You guys are great, but not one cares and you’re going to lose.”

If you support something, then support it. If you don’t, then don’t. Ambiguity is annoying.

So, how do we deal with the haters? Ignore them.

Most of them are trolls looking to get a rise out of the fans. By responding to them, we give them voice, attention and a reason to continue what they do. They aren’t worth your time, and anything you say means nothing to them. Your time and words are worth a great deal.

...with one rather comedic exception:




So, the next time you see a tweet or a facebook post from one of these, ”non-fans”, just let it fall into obscurity. Instead, post a positive comment about the league, your team or your favorite player, and encourage your friends to do the same.

When the supporters outnumber the naysayers, the naysayers can become quite invisible. And that's a fact.

**Update 3/17/11**
Here's a poem by Emily Smith titled, "A Poem for the Haters." Enjoy.

It might be losing a bet with a buddy that brings you in,
But something bigger, more enduring, will bring you back.Watch closely, be prepared to leave your seat at least once,
Don’t spill your popcorn, and try not to have a heart attack.

If you don’t have a favorite team, just pick one to like tonight.
There will be plenty of time for a real favorite to shine through.
Try to keep your temper in check when there’s a bad call…
The refs are in control and will pretend they don’t hear you.

Take a look around, soak it all in; the lights, the colors,
The people, the faces. This isn’t just entertainment…this is a game.
Sure, we could watch big guys bang against each other for an hour..
But, for some of us, watching those guys just isn’t the same.

Basketball, to a WNBA player, is handshakes with grown-ups…
And playing on the playground with the kids (of all ages).
It’s remembering that you played in tiny gyms with other people’s kids,
Even though you’re making money and getting to play on bigger stages.

It’s digging into your very shallow pocket to give to charity..
And issuing a challenge for all the fans to do the same.
It’s selflessly using every drop of your talent on the court…
And knowing when it’s inappropriate to drop your own name.

It’s treating adoration like it’s something you have to and want to earn.
It’s giving up a Saturday to serve fast food to kids who gasp and point at you.
It’s walking down airport terminals and signing autographs happily…
Knowing that not many people are this blessed.. but you are one of the few.

It’s giving thanks to a cheering crowd with an emotional crack in your voice,
As the coveted and hard-earned championship banner is finally shown.
It’s winning gold in the Olympics and hearing our national anthem play
And being more than a little relieved that you’re not sobbing on TV alone.

It’s good times, a lot of great basketball, and amazing people..
Hard work, passion, determination, and a willingness to sacrifice.
It’s knowing that you are preparing the road for the little girls born today.
And, with that fact in mind, you give your all without thinking twice.

It’s not about the money, really, or playing to the biggest crowd
That keeps you at the gym and puts a bounce in your step as you play.
It’s knowing someone, somewhere, whose face is featureless right now,
Is watching you, adoring you, and wants to be you some day.

Basketball, to a WNBA player, is being, giving, hurting, sharing,
Loving, aching, laughing, and doing so much more..
Than just “playing ball” for money–it’s being the start of something bigger.
And we’ll be here with you…because that is what we all come back for.

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