Women’s basketball has been growing these past years, yet the media still has it on the back burner.
Retired Canadian professional basketball player Miah-Marie Langlois says the media should portray women athletes just like men, by telling stories about individuals rather than focusing on gender inequity.
“Highlight who they are and their hero journey just like they do for men,” she said.
“Women have great stories too, men have great stories, we’re all humans at the end of the day and we all go through our trials and tribulations and we all have made it, how we overcame obstacles,” said Langlois, who played for the national team and the Russian Women’s Premier League.
As she looks back on her time as a player, Langlois is proud of the direction the sport is going in.
“It has come such a long way,” said Langlois, who was 19 when she played on the U23 team.
Toronto hosted an WNBA exhibition game on May 13 for the first time at Scotiabank Arena where the Chicago Sky took on the Minnesota Lynx.
In that game, Chatham, Ont., native and Lynx forward Bridget Carleton became the first Canadian to play a WNBA game on home soil.
The support from the city was overwhelming as tickets were sold out almost immediately.
As the league looks to expand from 12 teams, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a list of potential cities for a franchise.
Toronto is near the top.
Retired professional basketball coach Allison McNeill says it’s been a long time coming for Toronto to get a team.
“I lose my breath when I’m talking about it, really exciting I think,” McNeill said. “I know people are saying different things about expanding this or doing that, but I feel like with the Raptors here just seems so natural, why wouldn’t we have one.”
She said the game has grown with many more athletes playing and parents encouraging their daughters to play.
“Providing opportunities through school clubs, provincial national team, your non-profit, everybody is trying to get more girls involved in sports for all the right reasons,” McNeill said.
She feels a reason the media isn’t supporting the league is because the game is not interesting enough to them.
“People think it’s not good basketball,” McNeill said. “You’re not going to see a Ja Morant dunk, but there are unbelievable teams playing in women’s basketball, more than the men’s game.”
McNeill said the media should be on the clock 24/7 and not just when a notification pops up on their phone screen.
“It can be a more year-round thing where we don’t jump on the bandwagon when a player gets drafted or plays on the Olympic team,” she said. “Sometimes I go online and see 10 stories on Canadian NBA players but can’t find one about WNBA players.”
Savanna Hamilton, host of SWISH: INSIDE THE WNBA and former Ryerson University basketball player said TV networks are starting to see a shift.
“It’s been on TV more, the broadcast itself is more accessible, TSN is airing WNBA games and the viewership is picking up,” she said.
Being in media herself, Hamilton says everybody must do their part to put women’s basketball in the higher rankings with the other leagues.
“It’s on us to talk about it, when you tweet about it if we post about it or repost, it just gets more widespread,” she said.
Some media outlets might not be interested in women’s basketball, but Toronto is going to change that narrative when the WNBA team arrives.
“I don’t think the concern is about the first season, but it’s going to be about who wants to take that risk and invest in the team,” Hamilton said.