Elena Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA MVP, has been very vocal in defense of her sport and in support of her gender. She, like many other women, are fighting to be looked at as equal to the men and their version of the game. Recently, she told USA Today that she is in favor of lowering the rims for the women’s game.
“I think it would bring a whole different aspect to the game and bring viewership as well and show the athleticism of our women,” she told For The Win at Nike’s Innovation Summit on Wednesday. “We do every single thing on that court that the men do, other than the dunking. And, obviously, there is a handful of athletes who can dunk.”
“But when look at other sports like volleyball, their net’s lower,” she continued. “Golf, their tees are closer. It goes on and on. Tennis, they play [fewer] sets. Why not lower our rim and let every single player player in the league play above the rim like the NBA can?”
“I might even get pushback from fellow WNBA players,” she said, “but I stand by it. It would bring a whole different viewership to the game and it’d be fun. It’d be so exciting.”
Delle Donne makes some great points in this argument. One of the biggest reasons that the women’s game doesn’t get as much viewership is that there is no above the rim excitement. Fans of the NBA love seeing the alley-oops, the fast break dunks, and the posterizing throw downs. The ones who criticize the WNBA and women’s game are the ones who would rather see some dunks, putbacks, and less of the missed lay ups.
When you look at this proposal in terms of other sports, Delle Donne was also spot on. Women’s volleyball nets are seven inches lower than men’s nets so that the same excitement at the net is possible. Just like she said about golf and tennis, it makes the game more exciting because things are changed to meet the physical features of women. Basic biology and anatomy shows that men are more equipped to become taller and stronger, and that’s why we see the difference in the WNBA and NBA when the rim is at the same height. Lowering the rim to correspond with the average height in the WNBA would mean a lot more play above the rim because it would allow more players to get there.
Delle Donne isn’t alone in this way of thinking by the way. She has one of the greatest coaches ever on her side. Geno Auriemma also believes lowering the rims would help the sport. Via the Hartford Courant from 2012:
“What makes fans not want to watch women’s basketball is that some of the players can’t shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down.
“How to help improve that? Lower the rim. Do you think the average fan knows that the net is lower in women’s volleyball than men’s volleyball? It’s about seven inches shorter so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net [as the men].”
If there’s one person who could single handedly get the leaders of the game to change a rule, Auriemma would be that person. Add in one of the best players in the game in Delle Donne, and they could potentially get this done soon. We very well could see some Delle Donne alley-oops in the near future!