Lower Rims, Lower Expectations

It seems that there is always scrutiny pointed at women’s sports. This time the issue of lowering the rims in women’s basketball takes center court.

Chicago Sky forward and the 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has personally decided to make this her top priority going into the league’s 20th season. The ultimate goal for Delle Donne is to see a drastic change in the WNBA from the NBA.

“We do every single thing on the court that the men do, other than the dunking. And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk,” Delle Donne told For The Win, an online publication. “I might even get push back from fellow WNBA players, but I stand by it. It would bring a whole different viewership to the game and it’d be fun.”

Though her point of lowered rims possibly bringing more excitement to the game is accurate in some ways, it wouldn’t be a deciding factor in increased viewership for the league. Some of her key points, which are supported by UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, are that lowering the rims from ten feet could decrease the number of missed layups and three-point shots, plus shooting percentages would go up.

“What makes fans not want to watch women’s basketball is that some of the players can’t shoot and they miss layups,” Auriemma said in an interview with CPTV Sports via usatoday.com.  “How do we help improve that? Lower the rim (from 10 feet) Let’s lower the rim seven inches; let’s say 7.2 inches to honor Title IX. If you lower it, the average fan likely wouldn’t even notice it.”

The weakness of this article points out the skill that each player should possess. In the WNBA, there are great players, and then there are players that make you wonder how they made it into the league. That’s with every sport though.

Delle Donne stands firm on her argument though, and the pushback that she thought she would receive was more of an aggressive shove.

Phoenix Mercury’s star player Diana Taurasi has been the most vocal against lowering the rim. She was asked by ESPN’s Kate Fagan about the subject, and she boldly stated “You might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”

Taurasi has been echoed by majority of the players in the league. New York Liberty guard and former teammate of Elena Delle Donne, Epiphanny Prince, said in an Instagram post “ As of lately there has been too many gimmicks going on over the last few years, we moved the three point line back, made the lane bigger… .I just can’t believe that we are that damn boring, so why has the league lasted 20 years or better. JUST LET US PLAY! I can’t remember the last time we had a skills challenge or three point shootout at the WNBA All–Star game. It’s other way to bring more fans, revenue and excitement to the game, instead of lowering the basket.”

Just let the players play is exactly what the league should do. Women’s basketball is as competitive as men’s. When a player dunks in the WNBA they are celebrated because they’re now apart of history. So far Lisa Leslie, Michelle Snow, Candace Parker and Brittney Griner have been the only players to dunk in a WNBA game. The focus for WNBA players has never been on dunking though, as many more have shown their abilities to dunk during practice. Lowering the rims wouldn’t guarantee that these numbers will change.

If the main reason for lowering the rims in the WNBA is because of missed shots, we should reevaluate the training that these players are going through. We should first look at their mechanics and work on those first before we try to change rules that affect everyone in the league.