The WNBA has less support from the public than women’s soccer because society doesn’t perceive women basketball player’s as favorably as women soccer players, according to Seattle Storm player Sue Bird.
During an interview with CNN on Saturday, Bird said that many soccer players tend to be “cute little white girls,” instead of tall, black, and gay like in women’s basketball, an argument recently made by her girlfriend, soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Bird, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, also suggested that the WNBA can’t simply replicate the marketing formula for professional women’s soccer.
“The problem is how society and how the outside world is willing to accept the cute girl next door, but not willing to accept or embrace or not judge these basketball players, who are tall, black, gay. That’s kind of, to me, where the issue is,” said Bird.
Bird was asked about the sport’s perception in light of a recent article by Rapinoe, who argued that such differences in public opinion were due to racism and homophobia.
Ahead of the Seattle Storm’s 4th WNBA championship win, Rapinoe wrote:
This country has a deep history of racism, and a deep history of homophobia.
And if you look at the players in the W: Most of them are Black, and a lot of them are gay.
When it comes to U.S. women’s soccer, the general perception is that — let’s face it — we’re the white girls next door. The straight, “cute,” “unthreatening,” “suburban” white girls next door. It’s not actually who we are — the WNT’s racial diversity, though not yet where it needs to be, is improving every year. And, you know, breaking news….. I’m gay. But by and large, that’s the perception. And it’s certainly how we’re marketed to a lot of people.
Rapinoe, who has made a habit out of advocating for left-wing causes, wrote that society needs to be wary about considering support for women’s soccer a “breakthrough” in feminism because, as she suggests, the support only extends “to ‘white girls next door’ sports.”
“That’s not feminism — or at least it’s not the kind of feminism that I’m here for. I don’t have time for any kind of feminism that’s not real and total — from race to class to religion to gender identity to sexual orientation to everything in between,” wrote Rapinoe.
According to the New York Post, earlier in the season, players with the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty left the court ahead of the national anthem to protest the killing of Breonna Taylor.
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