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Women and the NBA

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Women and the NBA - BIXLER

The NBA says it wants to appeal to its target demographics. But, as with all other North-American professional sports, it targets primarily the heterosexual males. Sports are manly, and sporting events are where manly men are likely to congregate. But NBA statistics paint a different picture. The audience consists of less and less manly men. Nowadays, women account for 40% of the NBA’s fans. Most of them don’t feel represented in the “family-friendly” promotions, “cute” on-court distractions during the game, nor in the advertising spots from sponsors or even on the official website.

In fact, sexism displayed on and around the basketball courts seems to be stalling the progress of women’s viewership. Instead of trying to sell “pink jerseys”, the NBA should try to address the game as an equal display of good taste and consumerism. But this seems to be changing. A revolution is in the works, at least in the teams’ front offices. For example, the Indiana Pacers hired last year Kelly Krauskopf as their assistant general manager. She had previously served as GM of the WNBA Indiana for 17 years.

NBA Teams’ Management

Krauskopf isn’t an isolated case. Lindsey Harding, Sue Bird, Kristi Toliver, and Becky Hammon also joined NBA staffs over the past few years. The San Antonio Spurs hired Hammon as an assistant coach, and in the coming years, she could emerge as a candidate for a head coaching job. The Denver Nuggets hired Bird as a basketball operations associate, the Philadelphia 76ers hired Harding as an assistant coach and the Washington Wizards also hired Toliver as an assistant coach.

These changes also appeared on the media front. ESPN hired Doris Burke as an NBA analyst, the Washington Wizards took on Kara Lawson as their main commentator, and the former Phoenix Suns vice president, Anne Meyers-Drysdale, has become a color commentator. All this stems from the rising popularity of the WNBA and NCAA women’s basketball, contributing factors in exposing the talent and knowledge of women in this male-dominated arena.

Social Media: A Woman’s Affair

But women still find it hard to find positions in basketball organizations. For example, the Boston Celtics count three women as vice presidents on the administrative side, but none in basketball operations. Albeit moves like the Krauskopf hiring by the Pacers open the door for similar ones by other teams. While on the social media side of the business, women carry more and more responsibilities. Many NBA teams rely more and more on women as content creators for their website and shaping how the fan base will be informed, entertained and stay connected to their product.

Women are now shining as content creators for many NBA teams. They are frequently the ones conceptualizing and producing some of the most popular basketball moments seen on the timelines. They are the ones who shape their teams’ voices on social media. There’s room for much more creation and experiments when tweeting and posting about basketball. With 15 players on each roster and games spread across six-plus months, documenting an NBA team’s journey on social media allows for peeks behind the scenes and intimate glimpses of athletes’ lives, largely absent from other sports. It all comes down to being the conduit between players and fans, telling the team’s stories in 280 characters or less.

Women and the NBA - BIXLER

An Uphill Battle

Even though getting a proper representation of both women and people of color in teams’ front offices is still an uphill battle, it’s on the NBA as a league to lead this fight. But there are hurdles. Negativity represents a huge part of social media. Monitoring everyday social media accounts holds its lot of horror, and the comments section can be a troubling place. Every social media commentator, especially female, tries to ignore the narrow-minded comments and assumptions that litter the inboxes. In spite of the daily challenges and negativity that arise in the world of sports, specifically on the biggest digital platforms, all are thankful to be the online voices of their teams.

Check out our blog on Toronto raptors winning their first NBA championship and how celebrities reacted to Raptors’ championship win.

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