Becky Hammon

Becky Hammon (25) played for the San Antonio Stars in the WNBA.

A confession: I'm not much of a WNBA fan. It's not that women's sports bore me. Hardly. I love Olympic gymnastics. I like watching the U.S. women's soccer team and high-level college softball. I've just never latched on to professional women's basketball.

That said, maybe more Americans should pay attention to it.

"How the WNBA Stood Up to Trump and Won Fans," written by Politico's Ben Strauss, explains how that league has embraced the dangerous world of political activism in the Trump era and not only survived, but thrived. And by thrived, I mean that its merchandise sales are up, its television ratings are up -- and people in the industry have noticed.

That the WNBA has taken this route at the same time the NFL has struggled with its players' political and social activism is telling. Granted, the WNBA's activism isn't for all Americans; die-hard supporters of President Trump and his Republican Party policies will find it a hard sell.

Strauss writes:

The "metrics suggest that in a hyperpartisan political environment it is no longer axiomatic that brands need to shy away from hot-button issues for fear of alienating their paying fans. Indeed, the opposite might be true: When the president, with a single tweet, can drive a wedge between the players and owners of a multibillion-dollar league like the NFL, there’s little advantage to playing it safe. The NFL’s muddled response to President Donald Trump’s continuing broadsides over the national anthem debate—defiance followed by acquiescence—has guaranteed the controversy over kneeling players will continue into a third season."

This transformation may not make you a WNBA fan, but it is getting more Americans to pay attention to the game and its players.

-- Phillip Tutor

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