Nike introduced Air Swoopes in 1995, but female athletes have had a hard time getting their own sneakers since then. (photo Gary Dineen)
First I have to give props to Rolling Stone and Ann-Derrick Gaillot for actually bringing this up and writing a long report on the history of women ballers in kicks, but like Kanye, real quick, the picture on your post of Delle Donne’s Kicks, is not a Hyperdunk PE, it’s a Nike Kyrie 2 PE. Other than that, the article is on point and hits on a lot of the things that I have been discussing for a very long time. I have a few articles on the site about my frustration with the kicks community and women athletes. The most recent was my angry post towards adidas for failing to celebrate Candace Parker’s championship. This failure is the complete embodiment of the Rolling Stone post.
Now I could easily place the blame of this on adidas since they outfit the WNBA, but there are a series of factors which have removed women from the discourse of sneaker endorsements. The primary problem is one that I’ve been lamenting since the inception of the WNBA, playing in the summer. Now it has to be noted that many women players play overseas during the Fall. They tend to have bigger contracts in some instances, but the fact is playing pro ball in the summer is a “YUGE” mistake. (Damn, I just saw a Trump video.) This faulty logic has condemned the women’s league to competing with back to school at Championship Time, summer vacations, Girl’s travel team/AAU basketball, MLB Baseball and literally the best time of year to get out and enjoy your city or some other city.
The NBA plays in the winter. It’s cold as f–k and MLB is over, the NFL is preparing for the Super Bowl and NCAA Basketball compliments the upcoming NBA playoffs and draft so you are more familiar with the players competing and being drafted to the NBA. After 82 games of the NBA and 16 playoff games, you start the WNBA at the end of a long ass season, in the spring/summer? What you get is a league that continues to struggle with ticket sales and viewership… Even worse, you put the games hidden on strange as cable channels with zero fucking games on mainstream television. The more I talk about this, I can’t even get to sneakers, but that is the problem.
Rolling Stone took all of this time to address an issue that basically winds down to being mistreated by your dad. The NBA is screwing up the WNBA and this is why women aren’t getting signature lines from brands. Toss in that basketball sales are down overall and it doesn’t make sense to offer a sig shoe to a lady since hoops shoes are hard to sell right now anyway and if you ask ten people to name a women’s ball player I almost guarantee only 1 person could name one. How is this rectified? What can be done? Let’s get to it, but honestly this isn’t just an NBA issue, it’s a women’s sport issue that I actually gave some solutions in this post
but to clarify I’m going to explain 3 things to analyze and fix this issue.
- This isn’t a WNBA problem. It’s a MEDIA problem based on how they cover women’s sports. The only PROMINENT professional sports available to women post college are golf, MMA, and WNBA. Rousey gets paid by adidas, via Reebok, but I can’t think of another fighter getting a check from a sports company. Michelle Wie is the first woman golfer who comes to mind, but I’m not looking anything up to prove a point. I have no idea who she is signed to. The WNBA I have a better grasp on, but that’s because I sell sneakers and talk sneakers. I know Maya Moore is Jordan Brand, and Candace Parker is adidas, and Skylar Diggins is Nike, but I’m not an everyday person. In men’s sports the everyday person can tell you someone in every men’s sport even if they don’t follow it. The sports media world does a shitty, shitty, shitty job of capturing lightening. Every four years we know the name of every woman Olympian, but instead of carrying the momentum of the Olympics to make Gabby, Simone and Allyson household names as soon as the Olympics are over we resort to the same old shit on ESPN. The major networks could really do something with Gymnastics, Track and Field and Swimming, but instead we get a stream of boring ass baseball games and Xtreme Sports with a supplement of slow walking ass men on golf courses every Saturday. It bothers me because I know that alternative sports could garner a market share and provide opportunity for ad revenue if the sports are marketed correctly. The media is the foundation of the issue.
- F–k You, Pay Me was a line from Goodfellas. The line has shown up everywhere for good reason. I don’t care what’s happening pay me and people pay attention. Consider this example: If Nike goes behind the scenes and creates a women’s track & field league (which already exists internationally we just don’t show the shit in the US). They pitch the 12 show league to ABC to air on Saturday Night. The league doesn’t consist of just US athletes, but an international market and it is open to athletes from other brands, and Nike pays the women contracts of 1 million dollars per athlete and we are looking at 100 athletes for all events, that would cost 100 million dollars. Do you know that Nike’s budget for advertising is around 8 Billion dollars? 100 Million would be 1.25% of that ad budget. A commercial during primetime would garner about 100,000 per spot. That’s three commercials at 300,000 x 5 spots over the course of an hour or 1.5 Million. Sell the rights to streaming services for a Final Four style finale and Nike recoups over 12 Million in tv ads with an additional 12 million for the finale. This doesn’t make a dent into the 100 Million spent on athletes, but wait, think about this, Nike spends 8 billion on advertising. What percentage is slotted for the promo of apparel for women? Who knows, but 100 Million with the potential for a bigger marketing opportunity for the women’s market seems reasonable to me. More important, the moment you pay the women, the moment the sport becomes much more appealing to the world. Girls begin to train more to become pros, which means apparel and footwear sales increase. Women begin to idolize the strength of these women athletes, which means they buy more sportswear and apparel. If you don’t think this works, why in the hell do we now see Instagram Fitness people getting sports apparel deals, which by the way is pissing off actual professional athletes. Women are not in a position to say F–k You, Pay Me and walk away… but if one apparel company begins to realize the potential in establishing leagues and setting up relationships with mainstream television markets, they could literally pull women from current endorsements with brands. Pay the women more! Oh, one more example, if everyone found out tomorrow that ARCH was paid 1 million dollars as a blog, the blog would be worth 5 times that amount overnight and people would visit the site actually creating that revenue. Pay the women!
- Move the freaking WNBA Season to sync with the NBA. The WNBA Season is only 34 games long. The NBA games are three hour affairs on television. Some games start at 9pm and don’t end until midnight. This is primarily due to television timeouts, halftime, pre-game, and the number of time outs. High school games are often played with the girl’s games before the boy’s games. The reason for this is because it makes transportation easier, it’s cost effective and offers a two for one ticket price. With the NBA games lasting 4 hours already why not cut back on television time outs and add the WNBA game as a double header on 34 of the games in the WNBA season? If you cut halftime down and reduce the timeout length you can find the time to insert a game before the NBA game. This would allow for incredible branding opportunities. Look at a double header ticket like this: Chicago Sky vs Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Bulls vs Minnesota Timberwolves. Stars: Jimmy Butler and Elena Delle Donne vs Andrew Wiggins and Maya Moore. Consider the Los Angeles Lakers and Sparks vs the San Antonio Spurs and Stars. This does not diminish the women’s game, it allows for cross promotion and All Star Weekend would be amazing. The women’s game gets branded and mainstream viewers are already tuning in to catch 3-4 hour games so the time would definitely work. Overnight you create signature shoe ballers.
The promotion of women’s athletes should be done already. This shouldn’t be a discussion. If Under Armour gave Brandon Jennings a shoe at one point, how in the hell doesn’t Misty Copeland have her own Under Armour shoe? Brandon ain’t selling shit, but guarantee every Black woman in the world would consider buying a Misty Copeland training shoe and yoga pants. The same goes for other women athletes. Is Rhonda Rousey helping Reebok? Probably not since she got knocked the hell out, but when she bounces back Adidas/Reebok would be dumb not to begin promoting the hell out of her now. Want to fix the signature shoe problem for women, pay them, make them important. It wouldn’t take more than 1 percent of your big ass marketing budgets and for sports media it wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes a day.