Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Money, The Battle of the Sexes

Quick now, how many teams are in the WNBA?  How many of them are in Texas?  What are the current conference standings? 

How much are WNBA players paid?

When I was doing free lance photography back in the '70s I shot this photo of Bobby Riggs, retired professional tennis player.  Riggs was once ranked number one in Tennis as an amateur and then pro back in the 1940s.  After retiring he traveled the country as a hustler, challenging other players and giving a handicap like dressing funny or playing wrong handed.  He'd bet on results and usually won, always entertained. 

He was asked if he, a retired old tennis pro, could compete against Margaret Court, top female tennis player in the world and 25 years his junior.  Riggs said he could beat her "every day of the week and twice on Sunday."  This led to a challenge match, Riggs versus Court,  with $100,000 at stake.  Riggs won handily.  A little later Billy Jean King took Riggs on in a similar challenge and she won.  Handily.

The Riggs/King match was called the Battle of the Sexes.

Being a male and a sports fan I was quick to observe that King's victory wasn't that significant because it was a top female versus a tired over-the-hill old male.  She would not have fared so well against the top male.

As I made this observation, I had to admit King would easily have whipped me on the tennis court.  In fact, she would easily have whipped a whole lot of men on the tennis court.  Riggs was a super tennis player.  Beating him was no small achievement.  The best female tennis player may not be as good as the best male tennis player but she's a whole lot better than the majority of tennis players in the world, male or female.

When I started following the Outlaws I had visions of being the team photographer for a professional football team.  Not the Cowboys or Texans but professional nonetheless.  I imagined formation of the WNFL - a Women's National Football League.  I viewed the WNBA - Women's National Basketball Association - as a model that women's professional football could follow. 

There are some serious athletes on the Outlaws team.  And serious athletes in the league.  They play hard, work hard.  I wondered how good they could really become if they didn't have to work for a living and just play football in their spare time.  If they were paid like professionals and could work full time at honing their skills.  If they were paid like the professionals in the WNBA.

WNBA players are paid from  $35,000 on up to $100,000+.  Being paid $100,000 to play basketball isn't bad.  Why doesn't someone set up an NWFL, pay the best football players $50,000 and up, and give this sport the attention it deserves? 

If we build it will they come?

I opened this post asking what you know about the WNBA.  I didn't know the answers before I raised the questions.  According to the WNBA Website there are twelve teams, one in Texas, The San Antonio Silver Stars.  The Stars are currently third in their division. 

How many of us - all sports fans - follow the WNBA?  I don't but I'm not a basketball fan.

When I imagine a WNFL, I wonder if there is a market?  If we could give the Outlaws a full sixteen-game schedule, pay the athletes a living wage, advertise games in mainstream media, would there be enough response to pay the costs and return a profit to the investors?  I want to answer yes.  YES!  I've thoroughly enjoyed Outlaws games.  I've developed great respect for the quality of talent on the team.  But I'm not much of a market sample. 

I started this blog at a bad time, just as the season ended.  Who wants to read a football blog when there are no games going on?  And I started in a bad way, with mostly old news because I haven't been attending games and practices recently.  I wondered if there would be enough interest in my light commentary, on women in football and various other topics, to generate an audience.  A following.  Right now, it appears there isn't.  I have a dozen or so fans who daily check out what silliness I'm practicing in the name of Women's Professional Football.  Not very many.

That is mostly a commentary on me, not on women's football. 

Blogging is fun.  I'm having fun doing this.  But blogging for money requires broader audience appeal than I have generated. So far. 

Football is fun.  The Outlaws are having fun and have a lot more fans than my blog.  But football for money? 

I wonder.

No comments: