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.. he WNBA as each task was completed. The history of the WNBA follows: Before a player was signed or a staff member was in place, the league announced its broadcast partnerships with NBC, ESPN, and Lifetime. It was decided that the WNBA season would be played in the summer when the sports calendar was less crowded and the games could be televised live and in prime time on a consistent basis. During a successful inaugural season, more than 50 million viewers watched WNBA games on the three networks.

By 1999, WNBA games were broadcast in over 125 countries with 37 broadcasters in 17 languages. New countries for the 1999 season included Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Italy, Lithuania, Uruguay, the United Kingdom and Canada. Canada aired a weekly Friday night game on CTV Sportsnet. Nearly one million viewers per week watched the WNBA on national television during the second and third seasons. The WNBA delivers an audience unique in sports

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In-arena, gender breakdown is approximately 70-30 female-male. The TV audience is about 50-50 female-male, with a strong percentage of non-adult viewers. The Players and the Teams .. The first of the player signings was announced on Oct. 23, 1996 with Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca Lobo joining the league.

The duo were soon followed by Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, Michele Timms (the first international player) and many more WNBA hopefuls. Eight teams were announced for the league's inaugural season. The Eastern Conference consisted of the Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets and New York Liberty while the Western Conference was comprised of the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs and Utah Starzz. On Jan. 16, 1997, the first 16 players were assigned to teams, and on Feb.

27, an Elite Draft added two more players to each team, increasing team rosters to four. The Comets selected Tina Thompson, the Pac-10 Conference's leading scorer, with the first pick of the Inaugural WNBA Draft. Margo Dydek, a 7-2 center from Poland, was selected first in the 1998 Draft by the Starzz, and two-time Associated Press Women's Basketball Player of the Year Chamique Holdsclaw was the Washington Mystics' No. 1 selection in the 1999 Draft. Since the inaugural season, the WNBA has expanded from eight teams to 16, with the Detroit Shock and Washington Mystics joining the league in 1998, the Minnesota Lynx and Orlando Miracle in 1999, and the Indiana Fever, Miami Sol, Portland Fire, and Seattle Storm in 2000. The 2000 season will see 176 women play professional basketball in 256 regular season WNBA games (schedule history: 32 games in 2000 and 1999, 30 in 1998, 28 in 1997).

With such tremendous growth, the WNBA and the Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) announced on April 29, 1999 the league's first collective bargaining agreement -- a first of its kind in women's team sports. It's a Ball Game The WNBA game consists of a 30-second clock, a 19-foot, 9-inch three-point line, two 20-minute halves, eleven-player rosters and a collegiate-regulation size ball. The WNBA's signature orange and oatmeal basketball by Spalding is 28.5 inches in circumference and one inch smaller than the NBA's regulation ball (www.wnba.com). Differences Between WNBA and NBAThe main differences between the WNBA and NBA are the number of teams and amount of pay. The NBA has 29 teams throughout the United States and 1 team in Canada (www.nba.com).

The WNBA rosters have 16 teams, all in the United States (www.wnba.com). Having 16 teams is understandable because the league is only six years old. Hopefully, new teams will be formed in the future. The NBA rosters have between 12-14, while WNBA, teams have around 11-13 players (www.wnba.com & www.nba.com). This may not seem like a huge difference, but when you multiple 29 by 14 and 16 by 13, the difference is more apparent. The NBA has nearly twice as many players than the WNBA (406 to 208). This shows the opportunity for women basketball players is limited.

The most shocking difference is the amount of pay NBA and WNBA players receive. "The veteran minimum salary for 2002 is $40,000, but all 16 first-round draft picks will make more than that, up to $57,500 for the top four picks. The rookie minimum is $30,000 for 2002 (www.wnba.com)." "The average NBA player's salary is almost $4 million and within the next, few seasons will likely exceed $5 million (www.nba.com)." The minimum is a little under $2.0 million dollars per year. That is not including some of the multi-million dollar advertising contracts so many players have. Players such as Allen Iverson and Shaquille O'Neal are making over $30 million dollars per year just playing basketball. Top players in the WNBA are making only $80,000 (www.wnba.com).

Though the skill of the NBA players is incredible, the WNBA players are becoming just as skilled and impressive. When the league started, many critics raised the fact that women were unable to dunk, making the games less exciting. Within a few years, women were dunking; silencing the critics. Another point that can be made is you do not see the WNBA players going on strike because the players feel they are not being paid enough.ConclusionTitle IX is a landmark in struggle for the equal treatment and opportunity of men and women. Though Title IX is law, it had not always been the most effective in every situation. I understand what Title IX is trying to do, but I feel it needs to be evaluated how to give equal opportunity and support for both men's and women's collegiate sports.

I feel the law needs to be revised so no university will ever again have to cut any athletic program men's or women's. Maybe there can be government funding in order for universities in violation of Title IX. Such legislation would be impossible to implement in the professional sports because of the capitalistic and sexist society America is (Messner, McKay, & Sabo, 2000 p173). The only solution is time. Society is still grounded in the old ideals of early Americans. Sexism is a problem that can distort a person's thought process, young and old.

This perception denies the skill, sacrifice, and passion of an athlete based on gender. True today, the female athlete is as celebrated as the male athlete is. And true, female athletes are becoming extremely competitive, but still there is a belief of "separate and unequal" in the realm of women's sport. Reference ListEgendorf, Laura K. (1999). Sports and Athletes: Opposing Viewpoints.

San Diego: Greenhaven Press.Geadelmann, Patricia L. (1977). Equality in Sport for Women. Washington: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation.Jacob, Michael Paul. (1993). College women athletes' knowledge and perceptions of Title IX. Iowa: Iowa State University Press.Messner, Michael A., McKay, Jim & Sabo, D. (2000) Masculinities, Gender Relations, and Sport. California: Sage Publications.www.movies.yahoo.comwww.nba.comPrince -Blythewood, Gina (Director/Writer) & Kitt, S.

& Lee, S. (Producers). (2000). Love & Basketball. [Motion Picture]. United States: New Line Cinema.www.wnba.com.

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