Don't Blame The Media For WNBA's Shortcomings

By Marcus Vanderberg 

How many of you out there are WNBA fans?

C’mon, you can be honest. No judging here.

Now what if ESPN covered the WNBA more? Would you have more interest in the league?

No, right?

Well, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie disagrees, pointing the finger at the media for the league’s shortcomings on the national level.

“It’s really more the media,” Leslie told FanHouse on the WNBA’s struggles. “It’s ESPN. It’s the TNTs of the world … though, really, TNT has done a better job, I have to admit. They’ve covered the WNBA really well, if you have (NBA TV). But ESPN is probably the main focus that drives our sports. Ninety-five percent of sports, you know you can find it on ESPN. Maybe if we had a place [on ESPN] you would be more informed.”

Should we blame the media for the subpar product that’s on the floor as well? At the end of the day, ESPN’s decision not to cover the WNBA on a broader stage is strictly a business decision.

“I’ve never been to a Milwaukee [Bucks] game, but I can see the score in Milwaukee,” Leslie added. “I can see the score in Sacramento. I can see the score in Charlotte. Do you have any idea of what’s happening in Phoenix (Mercury) or that we don’t even have a WNBA team in Houston? Do you know that? Those are the basic elements that we’d like to get more covered.”

In today’s economy where networks are focused on the bottom line, professional leagues like the WNBA need to prove it can sustain an audience.

Television isn’t the only medium to get the word out about the WNBA. With the launch of this week, it’s a safe bet that the WNBA will get more coverage online during the 2011 season.

Leslie could help the WNBA by coming up with effective solutions to raise awareness instead of taking the lazy approach and blaming the media.