“Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?”
Lyric from: Comfortably Numb on the album The Wall
Written by: David Gilmour, Roger Waters
Performed by: Pink Floyd
The WNBA began play in the summer of 1997 after being approved by the NBA Board of Governors just 15 months earlier.
On September 27, 2011 at 8 PM Eastern Time a WNBA Eastern Conference Finals Playoff game tipped off between the Atlanta Dream and the Indiana Fever. After winning Game 1 of the best of 3 series, Indiana lost by 20 points in Game 2 to Atlanta and was looking to finish strong at home at Conseco Fieldhouse on this night in the deciding Game 3.
The preceding paragraph is, give or take a few words, how my cable provider described the programming airing in the 8 PM Eastern timeslot on ESPN2 on September 27, 2011. I couldn’t have written that description on my own since I hadn’t noticed that the WNBA Playoffs were happening.
And so 14 years after the WNBA burst on the scene to a resounding “We Got Next”, I’m wondering was anybody listening, or am I the only person that experiences selective hearing on occasion.
Over the last week I have enjoyed talking about a full range of sports topics with my fellow sports loving friends. Not one of them mentioned the WNBA Playoffs to me. And clearly I wasn’t informed enough to introduce the subject matter into the conversations.
A brief perusal of my friends’ Facebook status updates just now did not expose a single person who may have been watching the game, rooting for their favorite team or at all interested in the game’s outcome.
I just watched about five minutes of the game to get a sense of how many people were there at Conseco Fieldhouse in person to root for the home team. Gosh, it looks like a modest crowd of about 8,000. I wonder if “modest” was the right word to use. Apparently, that number is right in line with last year's average home game attendance for the Indiana Fever according to the WNBA published attendance stats.
The Fever's star player, Tamika Catchings, announced at the top of the broadcast that she had decided to play in this game after being injured in Game 2. Though I’m sure it was an announcement no less critical to the Fever’s prospect of winning than the news that Rajon Rondo would play in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals after his frightening elbow injury, it certainly felt less dramatic. And Rondo’s return was not even to a deciding game in that Heat vs. Celtics series.
A remote control fueled trip around the onscreen guide in search of other sports programming airing this evening reveals that this WNBA playoff game faces some tough timeslot competition of its own with the NFL Network replaying the Patriots vs. Bills matchup from Week 3 and NBA TV replaying the 1994 Western Conference Semifinals Game 7 featuring the Rockets against the Suns. I wonder if “tough” was the right word to use. But hey, it’s Barkley versus Olajuwon-the Rockets go on to win their first NBA Championship that year. And that Bills vs. Patriots game was an instant classic. The Bills, NFL also-rans in recent years, beat the belles of the NFL ball as Prince Brady throws 4 interceptions. As a result, the Bills take the division lead at 3-0.
Given that WNBA average viewership hovered around 250,000 on ESPN2 in 2010, my guess is that this league's games are no strangers to losing a few remote control face offs.
Last December the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball team had its 90-game winning streak snapped in a 71-59 loss to Stanford. The streak and its conclusion went almost unnoticed. Real work takes a back seat to Bracketology in offices all across America each March but, we catch the Women’s College Basketball Championship game simply as an afterthought. And while we wait with bated breath to hear the announcement of the NBA Draft’s #1 pick, most of us have no clue when the WNBA Draft happens much less who was the most recent #1 pick.
Why the discrepancy in interest levels?
Occam’s Razor is often understatedly defined as "the simplest answer is usually the correct one”. As a woman with three nieces who writes a blog that has “Lady” as the first word in the title, I am not inclined to speak that answer let alone write it here.
But since most of you weren’t there in person, won't likely hear it from your friends and didn’t watch at home tonight I am here to report that the Atlanta Dream beat the Indiana Fever by a score of 83-67 to advance to their second straight WNBA Finals.