"We Got Game." That's what the Women's National Basketball Association -- or WNBA -- promised when the league was formed in 1996. It would prove that women play exciting, team-oriented basketball -- albeit with fewer high-flying moves and egocentric chest thumps than muscular male players.
The WNBA has survived with little television exposure into its 9th summer, thanks to financial help from the male league and solid attendance in many markets. While the women's game has been especially attractive to female fans -- and an inspiration to women players who finally have a place to make a living playing basketball -- it also has drawn many male spectators, who say they appreciate unselfish play.
But an irritant, for some, is that 8 of the 13 WNBA head coaches are men! And a man has been hired to coach the new Chicago team that will begin play next year.
Some of these men are former professional players who are using the women's league as an entrée to coaching. Others are retreads, having been fired from men's pro or college teams. They all say they love directing hard-working women players.
And what do women WNBA coaches think? "There are a lot of great women's coaches who haven't gotten a chance," Seattle Storm coach Anne Donovan told the Washington Times newspaper. The league president -- a woman -- says the best available coach should be hired, period.
No woman has ever coached a men's NBA team or a top-level men's college team. So it's a sore point for some that a majority of the coaches of women who "got game" -- and more than a 1/3 of the coaches of women's college teams -- have deep voices, facial hair, and, in quite a few cases, receding hairlines.