March 22, 2016
“But when [you] look at other sports like volleyball, their net’s lower. 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 in the league play above the rim like the NBA can?”
The WNBA’s 2015 league MVP Elena Delle Donne recently made a strong case for lowering the rim in women’s basketball. In an interview with New York Magazine that touched on the rampant sexism that female athletes face in today’s society, Delle Donne was quoted as saying “I just can’t wait for the day where people want to talk about your skills on the court and not your looks.” One of her ideas to thwart these misogynistic views of female athletes is to bring more attention to the sport. And a change that could potentially place more eyes on women’s basketball, and no it’s not tighter uniforms, but lower rims.
The standard height of both men and women basketball goals are 10 feet. The only differences between men’s and women’s professional basketball are that women play with a smaller ball and shorter quarters. The men play 12 minute quarters, the women 10, and the women’s ball is about 1 inch smaller than the men. The average height of a WNBA player is around 6’0″ tall and the average height of an NBA player is 6’7”. However, men and women basketball players are playing on the same height rim. In volleyball, the proper height of the net for men is 8 feet tall and for women it’s 7 Feet 4 Inches. In golf, women generally don’t hit the ball as far as men. To make up for this power discrepancy, golf courses are usually designed with different tee boxes so that the difference in the distance women and men hit the golf ball is accounted for. So why isn’t there any difference in the height of the goal for men and women? Clearly, male basketball players are on average seven whole inches taller than their female counterparts so in turn are vertically closer to the rim which allows them to play the game “above the rim.” Although many praise the women’s game for its fundamentals and team play instead of focusing mainly on athleticism, it is clear that many fans want to see more women basketball players dunk the ball.
The most common question I get after being asked how tall I am is “Can you dunk!?” Everyone wants to know if you can dunk or not, as if that validates you as a basketball player. However, it’s what fans like to see. It brings more excitement to the game, it gives onlookers more to talk about and it would bring a new facet to the women’s game. There are a few players that currently play that can dunk the ball, however no one does it consistently. Don’t hold me to this, but I believe the only player to dunk in a game in the 2015 WNBA season was Brittney Griner. When you watch a men’s basketball game there is usually a dunk almost every other play and fans love it! They want to see players defy gravity. Fans want to see athletes do the impossible, do something that they most likely cannot do themselves and that is dunk the ball! Think about it, almost every time Griner dunks in a game it makes headline sports news. Other than that, the WNBA gets a ticker at the bottom of the screen with scores.
I’m pretty sure the majority of women’s basketball fans would be against lowering the rim. They probably think the integrity of the game would be lost. But would it really? Would fans even notice that the rims were lower? I had no idea that volleyball nets were different heights for men and women. Did you? When you’re watching a volleyball match on television are you sitting there thinking “o that wasn’t that great of a spike because the net is lower!” I don’t think so. So if you were watching a WNBA game and Angel McCoughtry came down the middle of the lane and slam dunks I think you would jump out of your seat in excitement rather than sit back and frown and say, “well the rim isn’t at ten feet.” The women’s game is ever evolving, and you must not forget that professional sports is a business first. If a rule change could bring more excitement to the league which in turn should turn into more fans and more ticket sales and sponsorships, it’s something the the governing body should seriously consider. My only wish is that this could have happened when I was in my 20’s. At least that way I could have had a chance at a break-away dunk. At this point in my career, the only thing that could possibly get me to dunk the ball is a trampoline sitting at the bottom of the net. Let me know what you all think about lowering the rim.