COLUMN: Change the moment to momentum

Now is the time for the WNBA to act

Alumna Crystal Bradford was the first Central Michigan University player to be drafted into the WNBA. Brandford, was drafted into the L.A. Sparks in 2015, and played 15 games for the team in her first season. (CM Life photo | Samantha Madar | file)

For every player that gets drafted in any professional sports league, they know the job is not finished. Those very few who are selected have to fight for their spot on the team. 

However, with the lack of teams, professional women athletes, specifically in the Women’s National Basketball Association don’t have the same opportunity to fulfill their dreams compared to male athletes. 

When the final rosters were announced for the 12 teams in the WNBA, 13 of the 36 players who were drafted made their respective teams. Meaning that almost 64% of the people drafted in the league will not be playing. 

Only four players made it out of the second round with one of them being fan favorite Kate Martin who joined the two-time defending champions Las Vegas Aces. 

There are so many DI women’s college basketball players in the 2023-24 graduating class and only 13 of those players will have a chance to show their talent in the most known professional women’s basketball league. 

There is opportunity outside of the league to play professionally, but that is internationally where players have to go out of the country to find success. 

This has been one of the most talented classes we have seen come out of the NCAA and yet the problem still remains. 

Why is that? In simple terms, it’s because there are not enough teams in the WNBA. That’s why expansion is necessary. 

We have seen the growth of women's sports right before our eyes, highlighted by Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark along with Angel Reese, Cameron Brink and Aaliyah Edwards. All have shown the capability of women athletics, capturing the attention of millions of people. 

But what do we do now? Well, now is the prime opportunity to invest in women's sports. 

The two biggest women's sports leagues in the U.S. are the WNBA and the National Women’s Soccer League. However, compared to the men, the two leagues are often overlooked. 

The NBA currently has 30 teams compared to the WNBA’s 12. In last year's NBA Draft, 58 players were selected, meaning that there is so much more opportunity for them. 

Now, I know that the WNBA (founded in 1996) hasn’t been around for nearly as long as the NBA (1949). 

I also know that expansion takes time, but now more than ever is the time to start expanding, so women athletes will have the same opportunity as men. 

When we start to invest the same amount of resources and attention into women's sports, it can grow beyond what people believe. This year has shown us just that.

Growth we have seen 

We have seen major improvements already to the attention of the WNBA this season as for the first time they will have charter planes  for all teams. Some of the teams have already started including Clark’s team, the Fever. 

However, the roll out system has had its flaws as some teams haven’t had access to the flights. All teams should have access by late May. 

Another thing we have seen is ticket sales are expanding through the roof. So much so that a few games have been moved to bigger arenas because of ticket demand. 

Those games include teams with rookies making headlines including the Fever, LA Sparks, Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics. 

We have also seen the expansion already begin with the addition of the Golden State Valkyries which are set to join the WNBA in 2025. 

They have also talked about introducing another team in Toronto. 

There have been obvious improvements to helping grow women's sports in the past couple of years, but we have to continue that momentum forward and don’t let this moment slip from our fingertips.

It can’t just end with Clark. We have already seen people ignore what women’s sports can do for too long, and we can’t go back to that pattern. 

Because right now, there are little girls all over the world watching, and I hope by the time their moment comes, they will have more of a chance to show their talent to the world.