Women’s Basketball Is Thriving and the WNBA Is Ready to Shine

ESPN’s LaChina Robinson discusses the excitement surrounding the 2024 season and the rise of Black women in sports media.

Women’s basketball is exploding, and the timing couldn’t be better for the start of the 2024 WNBA season. The energy is electric and the buzz around the league is contagious like never before.

This season has so many intriguing storylines, such as A'ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces attempting to win their third consecutive championship, a superstar class of rookies headlined by Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, and the creation of new “super teams” who want their shot at the title. 

According to StubHub, WNBA ticket sales this year have increased by 93% compared to tickets sold in the 2023 season, as evidence that the league is set to go to another level.

On Tuesday (May 14), the highly anticipated opening night games featured the Indiana Fever vs Connecticut Sun and the Phoenix Mercury took on the Las Vegas Aces.

ESPN’s LaChina Robinson, an award-winning TV host, Women’s Basketball Analyst, and co-founder of LaChina’s Rising Media Stars, a program designed to help Black women gain positions in sports broadcasting, spoke about the excitement surrounding the league.

“We've seen exponential growth in women's basketball recently and last year the WNBA had its most-watched season since 2006. So the league has been on the rise, and statistics tell us that everything is up in the W,” Robinson told 

“However, we haven’t seen anything like this perfect storm of the NCAA Women's tournament feeding into a WNBA season, which I believe makes this the most anticipated season in history,” she continued. “But the level of excitement, the investment of resources, and the eyeballs on the women's game right now is extraordinary.”

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese Selected In The First Round of the 2024 WNBA Draft

One significant change for the 2024 season is that the league will have charter planes for team travel. Robinson shared how this upgrade will impact the players this season.

“Implementing charters this year is huge for the WNBA. There was a charter program in the previous season, but it only covered back-to-back games in the playoffs. Recovery is important. Players can now play in a game and be home the same night in their facilities, where they can get the treatment that they need and that is major,” Robinson explained.

She also shared how chartered flights can help with player safety concerns, which was an issue on more than one occasion last season.

“There's also a security aspect to this as well because the players are very recognizable and they play in the best women's league in the world,” she said. “So you want to make sure that they're safe when they travel and that fans don't have access to them in the airports. Imagine having to go through long TSA lines after you played a game that night before.”

Currently, the WNBA is 60 percent Black, and Robinson believes the executive positions and those covering the league should reflect that reality.  Along with Robinson, several other Black women, including Elle Duncan, Chiney Ogwumike, Andraya Carter, Monica McNutt, Carolyn Peck, and Angel Gray, are a part of a team of sideline reporters and commentators at ESPN. The rise of the WNBA has mirrored the rise of Black women in sports media.

“The WNBA is a league of mostly Black women, and for a very long time, the voices in media were not Black and diversity is important no matter what industry you are in. These women in the league are advocates whether we're talking about Breonna Taylor or advocating for Reverend Raphael Warnock which changed the Senate election in Georgia,” Robinson said. “I think Black women realized that there's an opportunity to amplify the visibility of other Black women.”

Social media is another factor contributing to the WNBA’s growth, as players have built their brands and garnered attention for the league on several platforms.

“The WNBA is 28 years old and the rookies in the league have had the WNBA their whole lives which was something to aspire to in their basketball careers,” Robinson said. “They’ve also had access digitally. Back in the day, we had to wait for games to come on TV. Now we have streaming on different social media platforms.”

According to Robinson, the stars have aligned for the WNBA to build on the momentum that the league had worked so hard for. This season should be one for the books, with Black women in all phases of the game leading the charge. 

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