NBA free agency showed the true colors of a few fans on Twitter. But when is enough, enough?
Hartford, CT | I’m not usually the person to get worked up over social media, Twitter in specific. I’ve gotten used to trolls and people whose intentions are strictly to aggravate me. Sadly, as woman in sports media, having thick skin for this sort of thing kind of comes with territory. Now I am obviously no celebrity, but there are still some people who try to get a rise out of me just for the sake of doing so. Rarely do I let tweets get under my skin, but I am human. I have my limits. And there are couple things that can push me to my max. This past weekend, I encountered both those things: ignorance and misogyny.
NBA free agency opened on July 1 at 12:01 a.m. And with the rise in the new salary cap, teams have been throwing out money like trash bags. By day two into the free agency period, the NBA had already spent about $1.8 billion in contract value (and even more money has been agreed upon since then).
As a passionate fan of women’s basketball, I posted a tweet stating that I wished players in the WNBA could receive contracts of that magnitude.
Now as a disclaimer, I am well aware of the fact that unfortunately the WNBA doesn’t generate the kind of revenue that the NBA does that allows them to pay their players the astronomical amounts that they do. I am also aware of the continuing struggle with viewership the WNBA faces, even now in its 20th season.
Little did I know that one tweet less than 140 characters would become the gateway in which all hell would break loose. I was prepared for folks to respond making the points on low attendance and low revenue sharing. However, I wasn’t prepared for the many other responses.
“No one wants to see women miss layups” as if women basketball players are the only players in all of basketball to ever miss a layup. But did anyone question the viewership of the Bucks after PG Brandon Knight missed a wide-open layup that could have won the game back in 2014 against the Nets in overtime?
“Tell em to put out a better product” when just two weeks ago the WNBA produced a historic matchup between the Sparks and Lynx, in which it was the first time in either the NBA, NHL, NFL, or MLB that two teams met with 10 plus wins, no losses and no ties.
“ Not as entertaining. I don’t think anyone in that league is worth 100m.” just solidifies the disturbing ideology that women aren’t worth that of a man even when they perform the same task at a higher level. Mercury G Diana Taurasi is three-time WNBA champion, a three-time gold medalist, a former league MVP, received Rookie of the Year honors in 2004 and has made seven All-Star appearances. Yet, she receives just under the league max at $107K here in the U.S. However Grizzlies’ Mike Conley who has never been voted to an All-Star game, has never played in the Olympics and has never won an NBA championship just signed a deal for $153M, the highest contract in the history of the NBA.
The insults continued as the retweets of my post grew. I was told I was stupid for making such a remark. I was encouraged to change my twitter name (SheKnowsSports_) for making such “idiotic opinions.” One even going so far as to post a video of what appears to be a high school girl’s basketball game where one player steps on another player in attempt to make a shot, but misses the shot and falls over the player. The video insinuated that WNBA players have no talent, no coordination, and no reason playing the sport.
I was and still am disgusted. WNBA players are some of the most talented athletes in the world, yet the mere notion of them receiving a payday worth that of their male counterparts brought out some of the most hateful, and sadistic comments I’ve seen on social media. The tweets I saw reaffirmed my thoughts that what the WNBA has accomplished in these last 20 years, despite it’s lack of viewership and corporate sponsorships, is nothing short of amazing. These women are playing through financial and mental adversity that men in the NBA don’t face and still provide elite flair and aptitude to the game they love.
It’s not just the WNBA that faces this challenge. The US Women’s National Team is probably the most popular and successful women’s team in our country and they are fighting for equal pay. Politicians past and present have fought to give everyday workingwomen the same wages as men in their area of employment. It won’t happen over night. But in the patriarchal society that we live in, I often wonder will I live to see it.
It’s bigger than Twitter. It’s bigger than the small minds of the trolls who got under my skin. Misogyny is real. It exists. And it’s rearing its ugly head more and more everyday.