Wenceslao: The women's game

Candid Thoughts
SunStar Wenceslao
SunStar Wenceslao

I am a basketball fan so it is not surprising that the story of Caitlin Clark piqued my interest. Clark is one of the current players of the Indiana Fever in the WNBA, a women’s basketball league subsidized by the National Basketball Association or NBA in the US. The NBA created the WNBA in the 1990s but it has been hampered by the lack of profitability. It is a league composed largely of black women basketball players about a third of whom are members of the LGBTQ community.

Clark is a basketball player whose game is likened to that of the NBA’s Stephen Curry. She shoots the ball way beyond the three-point line and she has set shooting records in college so much so that interest in women’s basketball in the US has gone up. Basketball fans around the world have also noticed Clark’s game. But while she has attracted a global fandom, Clark is not a member of the US women’s basketball team that will compete in the Paris Olympics this year.

That may not matter to us Filipinos because interest in basketball in the country, especially in the Olympics, is limited to the men’s game. I don’t think we are sending a basketball team to Paris. Gilas Pilipinas (men) are even now fighting hard to qualify for the Paris games. Women’s basketball is virtually non-existent in the country and it is not as popular as women’s volleyball is now.

About two years ago, somebody put up a makeshift basketball ring in a vacant lot near our house. I used to watch a woman play there together with the men. I thought she did enjoy the game but all that was wasted because no school in Cebu offered scholarships or any other incentive to women basketball players. Many of us thought she was a lesbian simply because she liked what, to us, is a man’s sport.

Clark, incidentally, is a straight woman. She has a boyfriend and is not masculine. More than that, she is a white woman in a league that is predominantly black. It would have been good to see her play in the Olympics and help grow a sport that not many women globally are interested in. In the Philippines, women’s volleyball has gotten popular but some people only have superficial appreciation for the game. They have become fans because of the beautiful women that play the game.

Sadly, interest in even men’s basketball in the country is on the wane. Players in the only professional league in the country, the Philippine Basketball Association or PBA, are now getting meager pay, the reason why some of them would rather play now for teams in other pro leagues in Asia. This has contributed to the sad state of women’s basketball in the country. As they say, there is “no tomorrow” for women’s basketball here, so why would kids indulge in it?

Still, I hope that Caitlin Clark and the WNBA rookies will continue to grow women’s basketball not only in the US but also in other countries of the world. In the Philippines, women’s volleyball and even women’s football are enjoying a resurgence of sorts, thanks to the efforts of the people who love those games. I hope that basketball lovers will also find ways to grow women’s basketball in the country.

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