Just a couple weeks ago, Elena Delle Donne was proposing that the women of the WNBA play with lowered rims so that the league could gain some more viewership and exposure. Geno Auriemma, coach of the UConn women’s team, made the same kind of proposal before. Both were met with mixed reviews, but some were a little more harsh than others when it came to voicing their opinion in the matter.
One of those people who responded in more of a harsh manner is Diana Taurasi, via Kate Fagan of ESPNW:
“Might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”
Better duck with all these shots being fired! Taurasi was the first person that I expected to not be a fan of lower rims. A lot of the women fought hard to be where they’re at today, and lowering the rims probably feels like cheap way to allow more women into the upper echelon of their game. They haven’t fought for equality just to get the rims lowered, even if it would mean bringing more viewership into the game. Kate Fagan herself made some more nice points in her piece:
“Most young players grow up playing in mixed company. The best women continue playing against guys their entire careers. In fact, the longer girls and boys play together, the better they become. The worst thing for the growth of women’s basketball would be creating an additional logistical hurdle between boys and girls, one that forces young girls to take their ball and go find a different, lower hoop.”
I couldn’t agree more with this statement from Fagan. Sure, I did say that I agree with Elena Delle Donne in the fact that lowering rims would bring some more viewers solely due to more above the rim play. However, if the long term goal is to grow the game, then lowering the rims is not the answer. Lowering the rims is more of a short term, desperation move if the league is about to fold.
Fagan also referenced the hype surrounding Steph Curry and how his precision beyond the arc plus his ball handling is getting a lot of attention right now instead of his ability to dunk. While this is true, I’m not sure if it’s the best argument to say that the WNBA is similar. Curry is shooting the ball from ranges we’ve rarely seen players take shots, and he’s making them at high clips. Also, his ball handling is in the upper tier of all of the current NBA players. To say that he’s “the ultimate WNBA highlight” is a little strange to say the least. The threes and ball handling are very exciting, but the speed at which he does is it makes it that much more insane. The WNBA doesn’t give the same speed and physicality, so the comparison isn’t exactly there.
Delle Donne did fire back to Taurasi’s comments about going back to the kitchen, via USA Today:
“I respect Diana so much, I think what she’s done for our game is phenomenal,” she said. “But I definitely disagree with what she said. The biggest issue I have with what she said is how degrading that is to women athletes in general because when you look at sports — men’s and women’s sports — volleyball, the nets are lower; golf, women’s tees are closer. And if you want to talk about Serena Williams, she plays less sets than the men so are you going to tell her to put a skirt on and go back to the kitchen?”
“For Diana to say something like ‘put your skirts on and go back to the kitchen’, that’s tweets we read every day of what people say to us when we’re just trying to play our sport,” she said. “That’s what’s frustrating about it. It’s a time to empower women athletes, not to bring them down.”
Could Diana Taurasi have disagreed in a different manner? Well, yes, but she gets her point across in a serious fashion as well. Basketball junkies will always appreciate the women’s game, the ongoing issue is how they’re going to attract the casual fans.