Sports & Health Editor
Being the most popular women’s professional sports league, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has enjoyed increasing amounts of spectator attendance since its inauguration in 1996. More so, due to company promotions and athlete spotlights, the WNBA achieved record-breaking attendance in the last 2018 season. Though each year has come with increasing amounts of attendance, since 2011 the league plateaued at around 1,574,000 spectators per season, according to USA Today. However, this past 2018 season, the total number of spectators reached around 3,787,000 making the WNBA the highest attended women’s professional league in the world.
One of the reasons that the WNBA has had such success is due to the company promotions and sponsorships that many of the teams and athletes have received. With teams such as the LA Sparks (2017 Champion) and the Minnesota Lynx (2014-2016 Champions) sponsored by sports apparel titans such as Nike and Under Armour, their merchandise and athlete jerseys are being sold at the highest rates ever. These companies have also picked up individual player sponsorships such as Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings) with Neutrogena, and Mya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) with Brita Water Filters. The partnerships between athletes and companies are making the spectators more interested in the league, therefore leading to the record breaking attendance of this past season.
Another factor in the high attendance is that new, famous college players have revived the game and threatened the status of some of the older, more seasoned players. Brianna Stewart, the four time University of Connecticut national champion, played with the Seattle Storm against Elena Delle Donne, a seasoned athlete for the Washington Mystics. This showdown in the WNBA Finals brought the largest crowd ever at Capital One Arena, with 12,781,652 spectators in the venue, according to ESPN. The excitement surrounding the new players and what they have to bring to the game is drawing more and more spectators in, whether they are watching on television or going to the arenas.
Being the most widely known women’s professional sports league, the WNBA is also beginning to use their influence to promote charities and foundations that work with women and children in poverty. WNBA Cares has the league’s most widely known athletes visit schools and daycare centers that are in poorer areas. The WNBA was also very active during the peak time of the #MeToo movement, fighting against discrimination and harassment. These actions have also led to an increase in followers as more people take notice of the involvement of the athletes and the organization.
“The WNBA has reached a significant milestone, and I feel privileged to be joining the league at such an exciting time. The athleticism of the game and the sportsmanship exhibited between teams offers clear evidence of our ability to grow women’s basketball,” states WNBA President Lisa Borders.