With many sports, the women counterpart tends not to be as popular and Women’s NBA is no different from this trend. If you ask most basketball fans, who won the women’s NBA playoffs this year? Expect silence because the reality is the majority of basketball fans don’t know. This is mainly because many people believe WNBA is just the NBA but worse, to the point where many fans would rather watch college basketball in the winter than WNBA.

I do think there is a multitude of reasons for this being the popular opinion amongst basketball fans. Firstly if you just look at the names of teams they don’t use the same names as the teams in the men’s league, which inherently isn’t an issue however the names that they do use aren’t exactly original and in many cases are the names of the men’s team but slightly different. For example, instead of it just being Phoenix Suns women’s, the women’s team is called Phoenix Mercury. The name Phoenix Mercury doesn’t have the same ring to it that you find with the male counterpart. It’s as if they downgraded, not only doesn’t the name sound as good, but it is also quite literally a downgrade in size from being a star to a planet. I would love to be able to say that I’m cherry-picking examples but I’m not. The men’s Chicago team is the Chicago Bulls and the Women’s is Chicago Sky. Which team name sounds more intimidating? Or how about the WNBA team Charlotte Sting vs the NBA team Charlotte Hornets. The women’s team just seem like they tried to copy the men’s name and made it worse.

Another reason is that for many sports fans the games are not particularly interesting. It’s a well-known fact that when people watch a sports match that people want to see action and high scoring games because at the end of the day it is entertainment. However, the low scoring nature of WNBA doesn’t deliver what fans want after being such accustomed to the high scoring nature of the men’s game. The WNBA playoffs final, so the most important series of games of the year, had a score of 104 – 91 being the highest amount of points scored out of the three games. Now, this is by no means a low amount of points scored however it doesn’t quite compare to the men’s 124 – 114. The average combined points scored overall in the first three men’s playoff games this year is 223 compared to the 173 points averaged in the three women’s playoff games. That difference of 50 points makes a big difference to the viewer experience and the fans.

Moreover, the WNBA lacks a figurehead to standout to attract interest to the sport or at least a player who speaks out and is a spokesperson for the sport. The reality is that the WNBA doesn’t have the sort of figures that the NBA has due to how new it is. It hasn’t had time to create legends of the sport like Michael Jordan or John Stockton. Unlike women’s football you don’t have people like Megan Rapinoe speaking out and trying to make the sport bigger so, to be honest, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sport is still struggling to attract viewers.

With the pre-existing NBA, it’s hard to really tell a fan of the sport to watch the women’s version. With less excitement, worse names, and the lack of a person that people can at least get behind and say well I’m watching because of that player, it doesn’t make sense for people to really watch it. To the point that in the video game NBA 2k20 you can’t play as a women’s player to play in the communal online area. It’s as if the creators are aware that in its current state WNBA is just the NBA but with worse players. I do think that with some changes the WNBA can be changed into a sport that can excel in viewership and change the public perception of the sport however it would take somebody to hold up their hand and say they got the format of the women's game wrong.