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Women's Hoops

The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

May 25, 2006 at 10:02 AM

Tuesday night lights

The most blah day of the week looks to be exciting this summer with ESPN2’s scheduled lineup of doubleheader WNBA games. Caught the debut this week, and the basketball was intriguing, even though Minnesota and Seattle lost badly and commentator Nancy Lieberman blurted out that Australia was part of Europe.
The cool parts were the celebrity shoutouts where Billie Jean King and actress Regina King (was there a point to having two Kings?) congratulated the WNBA on 10 years. Pam Ward and Rebecca Lobo are fabulous in-studio hosts, but can someone get them a stylist? And new play-by-play announcer Linda Cohn is going to be solid alongside my all-time (female) favorite, Doris Burke, who knows when to speak and when to shut up. All this yammering during men’s games (all sports) drives me batty. Add to the action, don’t be the action. But enough about me.
ESPN2 needs to go high-def and fast. Flipping between the WNBA and NBA playoffs between Detroit and Miami on ESPN made the sister league look awful, especially the fuzzy feed from Minnesota. High-def is a sneaky way to sell sex because a crisp picture always draws in the viewers. Plus, we shouldn’t only have to suffer through flashes of Dallas center DeSagana Diop’s caked on white deodorant. Let’s be scared by Houston forward Tina Thompson’s lipstick.
And while the station should be applauded for touching on Houston forward Sheryl Swoopes announcing she’s a lesbian last fall, and a five-minute segment during the Seattle game. There are two gripes to that.
First, why during the friggin’ game? You might want to digest a topic like that. While you’re trying to figure out why Seattle sucks is not the time to be distracted by major off-court news. Maybe I’m crazy, but homosexuality doesn’t say “filler,” even in a blowout. And then the station cut to old footage of Alisa Scott, Swoopes’ partner and former Comets assistant coach, which made it seem as if she was still with the team when she’s actually back at home handling Swoopes’ son Jordan’s last week of school.
Second, the angle ESPN2 chose was the whole player-coach relationship. Great. But if you’re going there, tell the whole story. After explaining how Swoopes and Scott began their relationship while Scott was on staff, Burke and Cohn commented with graphics (again, DURING the game) about how the league doesn’t have a policy against superior/subordinate relationships and how other leagues don’t either. And while Burke commented that it “concerns” her, Lobo was brought in from the studio to add her thoughts. She played in Houston in 2002 and said, “There was never a problem. No one talked about it. No one griped about it.” Then the station cut back to the Seattle crew, who reiterated none of the Comets teammates had a problem or talked about it.
Sweep, sweep, sweep. Under the rug.
What about doing a little research and discovering how it was a problem in Detroit when Lieberman was coach? And the other rumored teams when the league began in 1997? More needed to be said. When tackling a huge topic, finish the story.
Or here’s an idea: stick to basketball.

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