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The WNBA: Its History, Popularity, Best Players, and More!

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The WNBA: Its History, Popularity, Best Players, and More!

Image: Candace Parker, two-time MVP and two-time Olympic gold medalist
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Since the early 1980s (when the NBA got popular) kids and adults all around the world have been watching NBA games. Since the dawn of the NBA, kids have looked up to the players as idols. Michael Jordan, then LeBron James, then Kobe Bryant. What those people have in common is that they are all basketball greats. But also what they have in common is that they are all men. So what about the women?

In 1997, the Women’s National Basketball Association was founded. Its headquarters are in New York City. Up until 2002, the NBA owned all of the 8 WNBA franchises, each in a city also occupied by an NBA franchise. Out of those eight original teams, only the New York Liberty, LA Sparks, and Phoenix Mercury are still teams today. 

In 2002, the WNBA split from the NBA and started making new franchises that were either in cities that did not have NBA teams, or teams that were in NBA cities but not linked to the NBA. The new teams are the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun (our home team), the Indiana Fever, the Dallas Wings, the Washington Mystics, the Las Vegas Aces, the Minnesota Lynx, and the Seattle Storm. They are split into 2 conferences of 6 of the current 12 teams each, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.

According to www.wnba.com, the fan attendance is up 16% compared to the 2022 season, at an average of 6,615 fans per game. This is the highest average attendance since 2018! With more fans enjoying the games, and more tickets being bought, the players’ salaries are getting raised. Almost 4 years ago on January 14, 2020, the WNBA made a new 8-year labor deal with its players. This deal means that the best players in the league will make over $500,000, while the average player will make about $130,000. This definitely might not seem like much compared to the NBA annual salaries (over 9 million!) but keep in mind that many people are still discovering the amazing games that you can experience with the WNBA.

And, even if you don’t know any of the WNBA players and are nervous to jump right into it, every year some of your favorite NCAA players are drafted into the pro league. Lou Lopez-Senchal, a Mexican-French pro player for the Dallas Wings, is wrapping up her first year on the team. She came from the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and was drafted after her senior year. And, arguably the best player in all of pro women’s basketball, Sabrina Ionescu graduated from the University of Oregon in 2019 and was a first-round pick for the New York Liberty. And I won’t forget Breanna Stewart, WNBA MVP as of September 27th, is a power forward also on the Liberty, who graduated from UCONN in 2016. She was one of only 6 Huskies ever to get at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. There are so many more players to discover with the WNBA, and this is only 3 of them!

Maybe this has inspired you to start watching the WNBA or follow a favorite team. The WNBA is an amazing league with incredibly talented players. The players work just as hard for not even 5% as much! So give the WNBA a chance, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

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About the Contributor
Zoe Abrams, Staff Writer and Contributor
I'm a 6th grader in the Dolphin pod and this is my first year on the Colt. I'm very interested in writing about sports and pop culture.

Comments (2)

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  • M

    Margaret ZalewskiNov 1, 2023 at 5:11 PM

    Thank you Zoe. I have learned so much. We’ll researched and we’ll written

    Reply
  • E

    Ewa AbramsNov 1, 2023 at 5:05 PM

    What a great article focusing on these hard-working WNBA players! They deserve equal pay and viewership!

    Reply