Sue Bird: Fans & Media Won’t Let WNBA Stick To Sports
“During an appearance on The Old Man and the Three podcast, Bird told hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter that the WNBA was made political by others.”
In recent years, the WNBA has been one of the most outspoken leagues in American professional sports on social issues. Last week, 17-year WNBA veteran and 11-time All-Star Sue Bird said female athletes tried to stick to sports, but “nobody would let us.”
There’s no question female athletes are judged differently than male athletes. Even the media has historically popularized women in sports based on their appearance more than performance. It’s rarely just about the game when the WNBA or female athletes are put on headlines. During an appearance on The Old Man and the Three podcast, Bird told hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter that the WNBA was made political by others.
“All politicians are trying to say to us is, ‘keep politics out of sports, this is where I want to go to just watch a game,’” Bird said on the podcast. “I’m not the one that brought it in here. Because as female athletes we are judged based on everything except the game we’re playing. We’re being judged because we’re women. We’re being judged because we’re gay. We’re being judged because we’re black. All of these political things are being brought to us and that’s how we’ve had to find our way in this life, in this WNBA trying to be a business life. We’ve had to battle that. It’s never just been about basketball for us.”
The WNBA dedicated its 2020 season to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old Black woman who was unjustly shot and killed by Louisville police in her own home earlier this year. After Georgia senator and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler disagreed with the WNBA’s social stance, players began wearing t-shirts supporting her political opposition Raphael Warnock.
Bird’s comments came just one day before former NHL defenseman and current NBC analyst Mike Milbury was criticized for saying “not even any woman here to disrupt your concentration,” while discussing the sport’s bubble system.
JJ Redick and Tommy Alter launched their Old Man and the Three podcast earlier this month, after leaving The Ringer to start ThreeFourTwo Productions in a partnership with Entercom’s Cadence13.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Blue Wire Adding Podcasts Cut During SB Nation Downsizing
Blue Wire has announced it is adding three NBA podcasts that were cut during a downsizing by Vox Media that hit SB Nation earlier this year.
Lakers Lounge, hosted by Anthony Irwin, Green With Envy, hosted by Will Weir, Greg Maneikis, and Adam Taylor, and Pod Maverick with Kirk Henderson are all being revived with Blue Wire.
“We’ve built Blue Wire around being able to identify exceptional talent hitting the podcast free agency market,” said Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones. “We were thrilled to act quickly and provide a new home for three standout local NBA podcasts.”
“I’ve known Kevin for years and we’ve often spoken about working together,” Irwin said. “I couldn’t possibly be more excited to add to all the great work Blue Wire has become known for as we finally see years of conversations become a fruitful partnership.”
The former SB Nation programs that follow the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, were able to negotiate the ownership of their podcasts with Vox, allowing them to bring their former feeds with them to Blue Wire.
The addition of the three podcasts adds to the company’s growing list of NBA shows. Currently, Blue Wire hosts Road Trippin’ with Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, and No Chill with Gilbert Arenas, among others.
Rob Parker Bringing MLBBro.com Podcast To iHeartRadio
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball.”
Rob Parker loves Major League Baseball and he is expanding his reach in the sport. His site MLBBro.com is taking another step forward just weeks after announcing a partnership with the league to provide coverage of minority players from the past and present.
He will add a podcast to the brand’s portfolio. The MLBBro Show Podcast – The Mixtape will join the iHeartRadio podcast lineup. While Parker oversees the brand, the show will be led by MLBbro.com’s Vice President of Operations JR Gamble.
Gamble brings more than two decades of experience covering the league to the show. The first episode drops right after Opening Day on March 31.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball,” said Parker, who has been a Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) member since 1990.
“It’s baseball coverage with hot sauce, loud and proud and in living color. Get on board from day one!”
What Implications Would TikTok Ban Have on Sports Media & Business?
“Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support.”
If TikTok is banned in the United States, a very realistic possibility, the ad market around sports and sports media stands to take a significant hit. Front Office Sports took a look at the companies that used the social video platform to advertise to sports audiences in 2022 and 2023.
Among the advertisers making major investments in TikTok was Degree, whose March Madness advertising campaign includes an ad that is exclusive to TikTok and stars Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the Super Bowl, T-Mobile supplemented its FOX ad buy with a TikTok campaign, while State Farm chose to skip the network broadcast of the game and spend all of its advertising with the digital platform.
It’s not only advertisers. Leagues and networks factor TikTok prominently into reaching younger audiences. The WWE, FIFA and the NBA all saw significant growth in their audiences on the app last year. On top of that, FOX and ESPN both have taken advertising money from TikTok in the past for postseason baseball and college football broadcasts respectively.
Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support. The Biden administration and other lawmakers have voiced concern about the security threat the Chinese government’s involvement with the app poses to Americans and their personal data.
The appeal of TikTok for networks and advertisers is easy to see. Between 2021 and 2022, no social media platform showed more growth for engagement from sports fans. TikTok’s sports audience jumped 65% in that timeframe. Facebook saw 22% growth and for Twitter, it was just 8%.