SBD/June 11, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

WNBA Helping Unify Team's LGBT Marketing Efforts; Should It Have Come Sooner?

Griner said the LBGT issue in the WNBA previously was "just pushed under a rug"
WNBA President Laurel Richie said that the league's "WNBA Pride" campaign was created to "unify the smaller LGBT-oriented marketing campaigns mostly done by individual teams,” according to Juliet Macur of the N.Y. TIMES. She indicated that the program "wasn’t the culmination of years of pressure, and wasn’t spurred by gay athletes” like WNBA Mercury C Brittney Griner, Nets C Jason Collins and Rams LB Michael Sam, but was a “result of market research.” Richie added that the league “conducted a survey in the off-season" and discovered that 21% of lesbians participating in the questionaire had been to a WNBA game and that 25% had watched one on television. However, Macur writes the WNBA “could have done this sooner, and helped change the sports world." Now, it appears the league is instead "merely taking advantage of a changed world," as the "taboo of being gay in a professional team sport has rapidly crumbled." Griner said a league-wide effort "should have done it a lot earlier because it was just pushed under a rug before and tiptoed around it." Griner: "But that’s the older generation. Now, with more and more athletes coming out, it’s like they had to do something.” Former WNBA TV analyst Gail Marquis said, “I’m happy that they are going to have a Pride Day nationwide, but at the same time, get your head out of the sand and say, ‘We wish we would have done this much sooner’ and at least acknowledge the fact that you missed out, and kind of ran away from the issue at times” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/11).

FAN FEVER: In Indianapolis, David Woods notes tonight's Fever game against the Storm is Diversity Night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Fever also are “honoring coach Lin Dunn, who is being inducted” Saturday into the Women's Basketball HOF and has been “outspoken against LGBT bias.” The Fever are “partnering” with LGBT group Indy Pride and Indiana Equality Action for an event that “coincides with Circle City IN Pride Week.” Dunn and Fever G Layshia Clarendon will “participate in a courtside chat after the game.” Dunn said "we want everybody to feel like they can get on board" with the Fever. Fever COO Kelly Krauskopf said that Diversity Night is another “example of outreach to specific segments of their fan base, comparable to nights for Dads and Daughters, Inspiring Women, or Faith and Family” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 6/11).
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