Maya Moore might be the best female basketball player on the planet and she wants more people to know about the league she stars in.
In an op-ed for The Players Tribune, Moore expressed her frustration with the lack of opportunity for audience growth in the WNBA.
Moore says it was like night and day going from a celebrated and nationally recognized college team at the University of Connecticut to a smaller audience in the WNBA with the Minnesota Lynx.
"After four years and two national championships, I went No. 1 in the 2011 WNBA Draft. That’s when I felt the drop.
"There’s this unnatural break in exposure for the highest level of women’s basketball in the world. Wait, what happened here? That’s a question we as WNBA players ask ourselves. We go from amazing AAU experiences to high school All-American games to the excitement and significant platform of the collegiate level to … this. All of that visibility to … this. Less coverage. Empty seats. Fewer eyeballs. In college, your coaches tell you to stay focused on your team and the game — not the media attention. But you know you’re on national television. You know people are following you. You can feel the excitement. And then as a professional, all of that momentum, all of that passion, all of that support — the ball of momentum is deflating before my eyes."
The WNBA has a TV contract with ESPN, but Moore believes more "engaged and invested cultural influencers and partners in corporate America are crucial in elevating the profile of the WNBA."
"Make efforts to help people understand why our game and players should be celebrated. Tell them we are cool. There’s a balance, of course. You obviously can’t spend an amount that isn’t proportionate to the reality of the demand. But at least match the reality. Look at the response to Sue as “Summer Bird” with State Farm. Fans are always asking when “Betty Lou” will return again. There’s a demand that’s not being met. It might not be on the scale as the NFL or NBA, but there’s a want. Just meet the want and it will grow from there."
Moore played the role of "Betty Lou" in a Pepsi Max commercial, where she dressed up like an old lady playing pick-up basketball against a bunch of men. The men were stunned when she began dominating them.
Moore's former head coach at UConn, Geno Auriemma, believes that women's college basketball should be much more popular than men's college basketball, which called a "joke." He said the men's college game is "behind the times" because the rules allow for too much contact and the results show that nobody can score, according to Pro Basketball Talk.
Moore and the Minnesota Lynx open the 2015 season June 5 at Target Center against the Tulsa Shock.