How the WNBA Can Grow and Reach New Fans

WNBA players are in the trenches, battling the court as well as off the court. They work for recognition, respect and a greater social consciousness. Yet, their work is far from done. In the second part of a series, WNBA players discuss what the league and its players can do to continue to grow and reach new fans. Also look back at how they feel the league has changed and how far we've come.

Katie Smith, Guard
Detroit Shock, 8th season

"We need to keep finding owners that love the WNBA and want it to succeed and will be proactive in marketing in their cities. Across the board, the marketing can be better. It's hard, we realize, because many of the players do not live in their cities and spend much of their time abroad. With players in the community, an attachment between team and town will develop and that will bode well for fan support."

Kelly Miller, Guard
Phoenix Mercury, 6th season

"I think the biggest thing we need to do is keep getting WNBA players' names out there to help promote the league."

Nikki McCray, Guard
Chicago Sky, 9th season

"I think we need to continue to do everything that we have been doing. We need to market players so fans know who they are. Obviously women's college basketball is huge and it is great when we can capitalize on the success of those players. I think it's great that networks have increased their coverage and that ESPN covers the entire women's NCAA Tournament leading up to the WNBA Draft. But as players, we need to sign more autographs and continue to interact with them in-season. We need to work with our sponsor as well."

Becky Hammon, Guard
New York Liberty, 8th season

"I just think you need to keep improving, keep getting the word out, I think getting people in the stands is the biggest challenge, I think that if we get people in the seats, they'll be hooked, it's still a grass-roots process, it's still a young league, we're going to have to do it from the ground up, so that means getting out into the community ourselves and spreading the word."

Tamika Catchings, Forward
Indiana Fever, 6th season

"I think the biggest thing is trying to market the league, not just during the season, so I think the biggest thing marketing-wise is to do it for 12 months, not just four-and-a-half, five months, and that will be the biggest thing, and then after that everything will take care of itself."

Deanna Nolan, Guard
Detroit Shock, 6th season

"I really just think get the message out there more that there is a WNBA. It's not like the NBA where everybody comes out to support their team. You think about the NBA compared to WNBA, I think in every household, they can name NBA players. They can't do that for WNBA players. So, that's one of the things. It's really just getting everybody's faces out there and let them know who we are."

Brooke Wyckoff, Forward
Chicago Sky, 6th season

"I think we need to continue to do what we've been doing. We have to continue to put a great game of basketball out there, but we need many, many more people to know our sport. They may know about us, but we really need to convert as many people as we can into fans and active supporters."

Coco Miller, Guard
Washington Mystics, 6th season

"Hopefully the league will keep expanding, the league will keep adding new teams, if they continue to get better the players will be exciting to watch, hopefully that alone will attract a fan base, and hopefully we can get out there and market a little bit more, I think that will be good as well."

Lynette Woodard,
omen's basketball legend
"I think the league and the players have done a wonderful job of reaching out to the community and if the teams will continue to do that and be positive role models, it will generate more fan support. More little girls will want to grow up and want to either play in the WNBA or realize their other dreams."

Lisa Leslie, Center
Los Angeles Sparks, 10th season

"We definitely have to keep ESPN showing those highlights and hopefully one day we can having highlights that happen weekly as opposed to just All-Star games or the Finals. We have evolved very quickly and slowly at the same time. In certain areas we have definitely matured. Fan growth, media coverage and awareness of the WNBA has been great. We have arrived and know who we are. But we never really stuck with some of our major marketing decisions. Maybe "We Got Next" should have stayed longer just to really keep people involved and coming into it. Also, the arenas we play in have been great. It is great that we get to play in such big buildings."

Shameka Christon, Forward
New York Liberty, 2nd season

"I think that there are two things we can do. We as players have to continue to be available and accessible to our fans. I love that they can come up and talk to us. So many times, we as professional athletes get caught up in just doing our job. Our fans want to support us, but at the same time, they want to know how we are doing. The women do a great job of that. We also need to build a greater awareness of the game itself. People may not be interested because they don't know enough about us or the game. We definitely educate those type of people and grant them more exposure. We also need to target the children because they are growing up watching us, seeing us play on a professional level and letting them know that we are role models that they can aspire to be like."