WNBA and Women’s College Basketball possess an audience of diehard fans of the sport that have played and followed the sport in some sort of capacity. Some have played or had a family member that has played at the amateur level and therefor the audience for the sport has been small since the inception of the WNBA in 1997. Woman’s NCAA basketball has had a loyal following and rich history in areas like Tennessee and Connecticut, but an up and down consistent audience in other areas. WNBA and Woman’s NCAA has had an increase recently in viewership and ticket sales according to WNBA, ESPN and various business publications. The same loyal viewers are still there but the increase in young men watching is due to the rising sex appeal among the athletes.
Women’s basketball has had athletes that have crossed over into main stream media attention for many years. Cheryl Miller grabbed America’s attention in High School when she was playing as well as any basketball player, male or female has played at that level, in Riverside California. Cheryl was stealing the spotlight from her brother Reggie Miller for her outstanding play, Reggie eventually went on to a Hall Of Fame career in the NBA. Cheryl has had a successful career as a basketball analyst and ambassador for the game of basketball for Women or Men. Other Women have gone on to be successful collegiately, internationally and even professionally playing basketball but have fell short at becoming cross over main stream stars.
The majority of the audience that follows any sport loyally is men, making many professional sport organizations and college athletic programs successful. NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, UFC and others have a loyal audience that has made them all financially gainful and have drawn advertisers to their respective sports. WNBA has had trouble drawing these fans into watching the sport and have battled to stay afloat because of it. Recently however that has changed with an increased sex appeal in the sport from athletes like Skylar Diggins, Renee Montgomery, Candice Wiggins, Brittany Jackson, Leilani Mitchell and Candace Parker. Collegiately the increased attention from social media outlets have made Dakota Gonzalez, Dylan Gonzalez, Tiffany Suarez, Jennifer Schlott and Heather Butler into more trafficked names online and have drawn more viewers to the sport.
Loyal Women’s basketball fans may not appreciate these new fans getting into the sport to only follow their favorite athletes due to their sex appeal. These fans however will still watch the sport regardless; the increase in viewers will only help bring in more revenue for their beloved game. Diggins is proving that she is a star while is crossing into main stream media through her sex appeal. Diggins has graced the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue and has gained attention from rappers like Jay-Z and Lil Wayne that have mentioned her in their music. Diggins is showing that she can bring eyes to the sport while the athleticism and traditional play can keep these men watching, that are the driving forces in the lasting success of any sport organization. Bottom line sex sells…