They claim to be opposing oppression but they operate from the purest position of privilege.
As we have been speculating for some time our sports landscape is growing into an intolerable cavalcade of activism, and that is now seeping down to even the unwatchable sports. We have it on good authority that the Women’s National Basketball Association is still an ongoing enterprise, all evidence to the contrary being recognized, but it appears they are striving to become even less consequential.
The league has started play once again, according to rumors, and at the start of a recent contest in New York the ladies elected to join in on the political activism other sports have been displaying. When the National Anthem played they did not take a knee. Instead the players from both teams walked off the court.
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2020
This is not what you would call a cagey business move, as the league has been seeing dissolving attendance for years. Now they want to partake in divisive protest activities, something that is not likely to change the trend of waning interest in the league.
The WNBA thinks acting like this during the National Anthem is fine, as if they operate from the stance of popularity.
The league shrank to 10 teams a decade ago to stay viable, and the past 2 seasons they set new record lows in attendance. So sure, distance yourselves further. https://t.co/G9kKSzfles pic.twitter.com/KDGfLfOPaT
— Brad Slager: aka Wuhan Solo (@MartiniShark) July 26, 2020
2018 saw the league experience a steep attendance drop of -13%, and from that record basement level there was another drop last season of -3.5%. All but three of the teams saw a dip in attendance and the largest market, New York City, had the lowest team attendance in 2018, and last year plunged -20%, to average barely 2,000 attendees. Many of the teams pad their numbers with free ticket giveaways, sometimes as high as half of their crowds.
But there is zero motivation for the league to self-analyze what these provocative displays might do for its future. This season they are playing in empty arenas for COVID safety reasons, and like all the previous years they are not overly concerned with cultivating a better audience. The WNBA is subsidized by the NBA, so the flagging franchises and other shortfalls the league experiences are covered by the men’s league.
This represents the height of carefree smugness. The players and management do not have to worry about repercussions. They have no crowds to issue an objection, and their actions can have a negative influence on the business which they will not have to bear. That is a reality leading to the ultimate hypocritical behavior. The one way they might feel this sting is in the future. Comically the players have been pushing for higher salaries the past couple of years, as the turnstiles go quiet. The labor agreement states team salaries are something directly tied to league revenues.
They are protesting against alleged social inequities while they are operating from the stance of ultimate safety. They shoulder no risk in their actions, as any loss of attendance, interest, and revenue is covered. They can act out with impunity, confident there is no real punishment to be experienced. They are free to protest against oppression from a pure position of privilege.