Wednesday, January 29, 2003

FROM THE HALL OF TERRIBLE FRANCHISE NAMES: The WNBA finally made their way into the Mohegan Sun Arena in the form of the Orlando Miracle--now called the Connecticut Sun:

The WNBA is hurting. The league needs a victory. The league needs a victory now.

"What they need is a three-pointer like that Villanova shot at the end of the first half in the UConn [men's] game the other day," said Eric Zachs, part of the Hartford LAZ group that lost out to the Mohegans for the state's WNBA franchise. "They need to change the momentum."

The WNBA's three-point shot has turned out to be a gambling casino.

The WNBA has rolled the dice with the roll of the dice.

Now we'll see if the shot from outside the arc of prevailing sports wisdom is good.

Yes, when I think "Connecticut" I think "Sun." The Hartford Gamblers would have been about a million times better, if only as reference to the departed USFL Houston Gamblers. Though invoking the most famous of failed big time sports leagues is maybe not what the WNBA is going for here.

Flip Bondy offers this wackiest of NBA conspiracy theories:

The NBA itself has played exhibitions at Mohegan Sun, though it is hard to imagine its owners approving permanent relocation to the place. The NBA hasn't yet entered the more lucrative Las Vegas market.

Back in 1999, the NBA board of governors passed a motion in New York supporting the idea of Las Vegas as a potential site for a future franchise.

"Las Vegas (is) a first-class NBA-type city and would no doubt be an excellent location for a professional franchise," Stern said, then. "The only issue ... is the subject of betting on NBA basketball."

Is the WNBA in Uncasville being used by Stern as a trial balloon for possible future expansion by the NBA into Las Vegas? That theory may be a bit conspiratorial.

Yes, but it's a cool theory nonetheless. Las Vegas--the glitz city--and the NBA--the glitz pro sport--would seem to go hand in hand, and as Vegas becomes more of a community its citizens will tend to demand national recognition the American way: by getting a pro sports franchise. All they have to do is take basketball betting off the books, and I have no idea how much of a loss that would be but I can't imagine a sport as unpredictable as basketball would attract that much betting. But what do I know? The Mind of the Gambler is foreign to my own. Anyhow, Bondy dismisses his own theory with:

More likely, this is further proof of the parent league's indifference toward the WNBA's future during tough economic times.

Title IX, alone, must stand guard against this sort of paternalistic neglect at the scholastic level. The law ought to be strengthened, not weakened, while universities continue to throw outrageous money at their bloated football and basketball programs.

"To suggest that it's okay for a federal law to allow women to be treated in a manner that is inferior to men is unfathomable in this day and age," Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation, told the commission.

If the Education Department can't imagine what it would be like for schoolgirls in a world without regulation, the commissioners might ake a look at how the NBA is treating the WNBA. This once promising women's league is a casino sideshow now. All bets are off.


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