W-MMA-NBA?

25 07 2008

Yet again, the Palace at Auburn Hills was the site of a basketball brawl that left the sport in disarray following the fight.  But this time, it was within the Women’s National Basketball Association – the Detroit Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks.

The biggest question following the WNBA skirmish that saw 10 players and an assistant coach suspended is “Did this hurt the sport, and women’s sport in general?”.
And that’s seen by many as a very difficult question to answer. But it’s not.
The simple answer is no.

Firstly, let’s have a look at what happened (courtesy of ESPN):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Why did it happen? Regardless of sex, athletes get angry. There’s a lot on the line, and these women are just as competitive as their male counterparts, perhaps more so. They do this with far less money on the line. Sometimes that competitive edge gets frayed somewhat, and the inevitable happens.
This is no where near as reprehensible as what happened at the same venue within the men’s game, or even the Knicks/Nuggets fight. The WNBA acted swiftly, and suspended those involved.

There will be – for weeks – a lot of discussion about who did what, and who was responsible… and did the athletes (and Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn, suspended for 2 games) get the punishment that they deserved, so not going to do it here.
What really is the central point is – did it do damage?
Clearly, no.

Sadly, women’s basketball doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but this definitely attracted the focus of not only the nation, but the world.
On YouTube, there are currently 53 clips up of this fight, and the top few have (when added together) been viewed in excess of a million times. It’s been covered by the world’s media, and made headlines on ESPN. This is all coverage that the women’s version of the game never, ever gets.
Yes, clearly the WNBA don’t want attention because of a brawl, and this may be a controversial thing to say, but it’s also probably true that in the deepest, darkest parts of the hearts of those that run the WNBA aren’t unhappy that it did happen.
The simple truth is that you cannot buy publicity like this.

Why did it happen? Regardless of sex, athletes get angry. There’s a lot on the line, and these women are just as competitive as their male counterparts, perhaps more so. They do this with far less money on the line. Sometimes that competitive edge gets frayed somewhat, and the inevitable happens – tempers snap.
Was it bad?  Yes, but make no mistake: this is no where near as reprehensible as what happened at the same venue within the men’s game, or even the Knicks/Nuggets fight. The WNBA acted swiftly, and suspended those involved.
Now, the important thing for the game is how the WNBA deal with this extra attention hence forth.
We’ll be watching, of that I’d bet they’re glad.

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3 responses

25 07 2008
nursedude

Wow, after watching that tape, it was almost like a flash back to the old Bad Boys days of the Pistons with Rick Mahorn and Bill Lambeer…talk about Deja` vu…

26 07 2008
wnba brawl

[…] the Women??s National Basketball Association – the Detroit Shock and the Los Angeles Sparks. Thttp://with-malice.com/2008/07/25/women-basketbrawl/Shanoff&39s Wake-Up Call: More Crazy Brawling – SportingNews.comBut no further wnba brawling last […]

26 07 2008
Sportsattitude

Couldn’t agree more. Ironic as it is, possibly the best thing to happen for the WNBA…to show women competing with the same fire and passion as the men. Of course, that already was the case…but the 24/7 coverage and “death watch” awaiting the penalties to be handed out actually gives the league more credibility. On a side note, I’ve always found it interesting there doesn’t seem to be enough women wanting to coach basketball that men can’t get jobs doing it…then again, maybe its the owners and athletic directors who prefer men to have the role. In any situation like the one at the Palace, wouldn’t any male coach come out a “loser” in a situation like this, especially as imposing a presence as Mahorn is? It is something to think about for men who have a desire (I never understood it) to coach women’s basketball – any time you show discipline in an aggressive manner you are certainly going to be under the microscope. Fact of the matter is, in this specific instance I thought Lisa Leslie actually threw a pseudo-swing/shove at Mahorn initially and his response was measured. In the end, much ado about nothing but there is no doubt the WNBA got some accidential promotion out of it.

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