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Rantz: Stop harassing us about the Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm players gather in a celebratory huddle after a 94-84 win over the Phoenix Mercury during Game 5 of a WNBA basketball playoff semifinal in 2018. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No one cares about the Seattle Storm so please, for all that’s holy in this world, stop pushing them on us. You’re alienating your friends and colleagues and, ultimately, hurting your righteous goal: recruiting more fans.

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The Storm are, hopefully, about to become WNBA champions. This is good for the city. Their small, but rabid fan base, is understandably excited. But there’s nothing more annoying than demanding everyone else around you care as much about the sport as you do. Stop hounding us.

Fans are wondering why the Storm isn’t getting the same level of interest than, say, the Seahawks or Mariners or even the Sounders. The answer is simple: we’re not interested in women’s basketball. Some — like me — don’t care about basketball, period.

It’s not that women’s basketball isn’t full of incredibly talented athletes. It is. The Storm demonstrate that. And it’s not that the sport isn’t interesting. The fans I’ve spoken to clearly love every second of action at KeyArena. It’s just not interesting to us right now. For many reasons, we’re just not that into it.

Some imply sexism and homophobia: we don’t like the sport because it’s played by women, many of whom are apparently gay or bi. But that argument strains credulity. You mean to tell me that Progressive Seattle won’t go to the game because of sexism and homophobia? Really? You can’t honestly believe that. But that’s the argument made by Alana Glass in Forbes last year:

…women must traverse through a terrain steeped in stereotypes and unconscious bias. The respect afforded to men in professional sports does not translate to the WNBA. Male privilege and sexism are in play when women are excluded from the larger sports conversation.

This is lazy analysis that starts with a fact (WNBA doesn’t get as much attention as the NBA) and then gets translated through a Progressive social justice lens that teaches you everything is the fault of some kind of -ism.

Here are three reasons why people don’t care much about the Storm:

  1. No one wants to watch a sport solely for a political statement.
  2. They’re competing with a ton of other sports teams by a fan base with limited hours to devote to a given sport.
  3. There is still an anger in this region with basketball, in general.

And note I said people — not male fans, specifically. The ones who proclaim sexism are responsible for low Storm interest do so for the virtue signaling effect; they pretend they’re interested in the Storm to make a political statement. That’s a burden: no one watches sports for the political statement; it’s precisely why so many are turning away from the NFL.

And the truth is, women don’t care about the Storm or the WNBA either. USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, talking about her relationship with Storm star Sue Bird, told ESPN:

There’s a general conversation that we have: Why women our age don’t support women’s sports the way that men our age support men’s sports. Then we had this moment of realizing we hadn’t gone to each other’s games much before we started dating. So we’re both now season-ticket holders of the other’s team. You have to invest in it and put the time in it, and you become a fan.

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo, writing for HuffPost, similarly notes:

What I want to focus on is what I believe to be the crux of the WNBA’s problem. And it isn’t men. It’s women. Why aren’t more women paying attention to the WNBA? Why do more women tune into Scandal or The Real Housewives of Wherever for water cooler fodder instead? […]

And that, you see, is the real issue. The WNBA, and women’s sports in general, need more women to care. Notice I didn’t just say women. I said more women. The WNBA’s audience is 75 percent women. But those 75 percent make up a small fraction of the population. We need more women to read, watch, and soak up women’s sports the same way men do men’s sports.

Are these a bunch of self-loathing women or is sexism, perhaps, not the reason?

Few care about the Thunderbirds, Chiefs, Silvertips, Seawolves, Raniers, Mountaineers, AquaSox, Pumas or Sounders 2. Some of these teams I’ve literally never heard of until I did a Google search. And they’re all populated by talented, athletic, men. Do we all hate men, too, so we’re ignoring these sports?

There are a ton of local sports teams competing in our already busy lives. And many fans, particularly football and soccer, don’t just watch their home teams. They watch other games in the league. For me, I’m watching most MLS games, plus EPL.

Which brings me to this: I understand what it feels like to love a sport not many love. I try, desperately, to push Sounders on friends and colleagues (though it’s obviously considerably more popular than all the teams I mentioned, save Seahawks and Mariners).

I watch all their away games and go to all their home games. I sneak in coverage on my show and tweet about them when I can. I sing the praises of Jordan Morris, Lamar Neagle, Cristian Roldan and Ray Saari. And people hate when I do it. They don’t like it, and they never will if my only way to evangelize is to harass people into caring about it. Ask Bob Stelton if you don’t believe me. I’ve pushed soccer on him for years and just gave up.

The way I get people into soccer is to take them to the right games or show them appropriate goals or saves that highlight the excitement and drama. It has to come naturally.

What I’ve stopped doing: harassing people into caring (You’re welcome, Stelton!).

If fans of the Storm want to be successful in their efforts, I implore you to stop harassing and take a different tactic.

In the meantime: go Storm (even if I won’t watch)!

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.


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