When the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was
founded, naysayers insisted that people wouldn’t be interested in
watching women shoot hoops. Ten years later, things are looking up.
The league has dedicated fans and though it hasn’t turned a
profit, NBA commissioner David Stern expects one next year.
But as women’s professional basketball comes into its own,
Justine Nicholas of Women’s e-News
reports on a disconcerting development: a league created to
elevate women athletes is seeing more and more women losing
coaching jobs to men. In 1997, just one of eight teams had a
male coach; today, there are only three female coaches among the
league’s 14 teams.
Oddly enough, a driving reason for the shift is the WNBA’s
burgeoning success. ‘A higher level of play stokes demand for
coaches with professional — versus college — experience,’
Nicholas writes. The newer lineup of male coaches cut their teeth
in the NBA, where the collegiate mandate to be a teacher is trumped
by the drive to strategize and win.
‘When this league started, we gave several women opportunities,’
says Seattle Storm coach Anne Donovan, ‘it seemed that those
opportunities were not successful, so the trend just flipped.’ With
the drive to pluck professionals, many former WNBA coaches have
moved back to college courts, often with lucrative
While WNBA President Donna Orender wants more women back in
coaching positions, others don’t see the need, given the league’s
budding success. Female players are learning to slam dunk and
sculpting the league to look like their male counterparts’ — right
down to the coaching staffs. — Rachel Anderson
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In WNBA Coaching Bounces to the Guys
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