Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wash Post Columnist Discovers Mystics, and the Post Discovers the Front Page! On Monday morning, after the Mystics played one of their best games in franchise history Sunday night to beat the conference-leading Connecticut Sun, did the Washington Post put the game story on page one of the sports section? Of course not. (Do pigs fly?) Just what was so important that it got front page, above-the-fold treatment? Why, the rain delays in the PGA tourney of course! But today, in one of the very few columns ever written in the Washington Post sports section about the Mystics (and the BasketCases will never forget Michael Wilbon's trashing of Chamique Holdsclaw), Mike Wise is given front page space to bemoan the declining attendance, noting the irony that the fans are staying away at the same time the Mystics are playing their best ball ever. His point is that more promotion is needed, that there has to be more marketing of the players as "personalities." We don't disagree that good marketing is a necessity, but Wise conveniently fails to observe that his own paper typically relegates the Mystics (and women's sports generally) to non-front page coverage, except, apparently, for Wise to report that "I'm still stunned that more stories aren't written about the league's divas, women like Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes . . . ." Well, Mike, how about talking to your colleagues and editors?

Has Mike failed to notice, for example, that Jon Gallo, the sports writer who now covers the Mystics for the Post, is not allowed to do so from beyond the Beltway, leaving all road games to AP coverage? (What, the Post can't afford an Amtrak ticket for Jon to NY? Or even hiring a freelancer in the away city? It hasn't escaped the BasketCases attention that freelancer Kathy Orton, for example, has been covering other teams for their local papers when they play here in DC.)

And while writing about the huge crowds we used to have here in DC, Wise never mentions what the prior owners did to run the franchise into the ground -- including the revolving door of coaches, some really questionable player personnel decisions, no genuine GM for years, and taking STHs for granted. Had the Mystics been well-run let alone winning, it's a good bet that the many thousands of fans who used to pack the Phone Booth would still be there. The Mystics are not a new team trying to build up a fan base. They are in the fairly unique position of having had the most fans in the league -- record-setting crowds -- and frittered them away. It's not just a question of marketing Alana Beard as a "personality," it's also about winning back the disgruntled and the disaffected. And yes, we are glad to see the Mystics on the front page of the Post; but now lets see some game stories there too!

BTW, the headline on Mike's column on the carryover page inside the paper is: "If a WNBA Star Shoots Jumpers in the Forest..." The BasketCases are flattered that Mike, or his editor, has been reading this blog.

* * * * *
In Jon Gallo's preview of tonight's game against the Fever, Coach Adubato sums up the challenge for the Mystics: "[Tamika] Catchings is one of the best players in the league and she has a lot of good players around her. There's a reason why Indiana has been one of the premier teams in the league in the last few years." The BasketCases are hoping that the Mystics come out playing just the way they left off on Sunday night!

7 Comments:

At 10:19 AM, Blogger VP19 said...

I would guess that thanks to Maryland's success, in a few years local casual fans may have interest in the likes of Langhorne, Harper, Doron, Toliver and Coleman once they're in the WNBA, no matter what team they may be on, and will come to see them play at Verizon.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous TonyL222 said...

There's no such thing as bad publicity. I'd say the writer achieved his goal.

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottomline guys though is that people don't buy tickets for events that they don't know about. The Post has improved its coverage overall this year. However, when I do read their article online, immediately I see to the right a click-through ad for the Nationals. The Mystics are not even given a flyout from the main Sports button at the top of the site. The Mystics are not on the City Guide (which I thought was a free listing) while the Nationals and Orioles are. The last 2 points are indeed subtle marginalization. Either the only professional women's sports league is news or it's not.

 
At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a soccer fan, I just have to say that you are facing a common problem. Any sport outside of the big three (football, baseball, and men's basketball) has your problem. Hockey, women's basketball, lacrosse, soccer, track and field. They all have a common bond - second class status in the US.

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger xwomynjoc said...

Here's my HO. The Mystics' had the greatest college player in this city for 6 years and turned her into a basket case and then the local press trashed her and called her on the carpet, making it impossible to return. I would have been depressed too, if I had her talent and had to play for this team's previous ownership. CH had no help from anyone and it drove her nutty and I think it drove alot of fans away. It seemed to me, in my humble opinion, that Mike Wise implicated the team drama of 2004 was the fault of CH and I disgree, it was the owner's fault. AB was drafted (2nd best draft pick in franchise history) to help CH and she couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for half the season. Once again no help or relief for CH. I will defend CH for life because she is a personality and great player.My heart just broke when CH disappeared and then asked to be traded. Yes, we have a good team starting to form now, but at the cost of what? Fans in the seats. My heart breaks every time I see CH in purple and gold. I'm sorry "Big Abe" didn't sell sooner. I'm rambling now and I've said what's been on my mind for some time now. I've held season tickets from day one and never missed a home game, but some things have changed, it's just not the same.
xwomynjoc "Go Terps"

 
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