Amber Balcaen: The Underdog of NASCAR

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NASCAR and women are not synonymous; not yet anyway. But there’s a woman, Amber Balcaen, who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba who’s working her absolute hardest to change that. She is the only Canadian to compete in the 2014 and 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine and the 2015 Bill McAnally Racing Drivers Expo. In 2016, she became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR sanctioned race in the USA and earned Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series for Lee Pulliam Performance. Now signed to Martin-McClure Racing as their NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver, this full-time racer and part-time student is poised to take NASCAR by storm. We got the chance to chat with Balcaen about her journey to racing, women in NASCAR and lots more. Find out what she has to say, you won’t be disappointed…

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GladiatHer Grads: Ashley Moore

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We hear a great deal about professional athletes and high profile college athletes, especially in basketball and football, but we don’t often talk about the average student-athlete. There’s little discussion about the hardships, the triumphs and their lives after college athletics. But former college athletes have a great deal to offer this world and are proving it everyday. They are teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. In fact, one study showed 94% of senior women business executives played sports and 50% of women in C-Suite positions played college sports. These women are indeed movers and shakers on and off the court and field.

So to highlight some of these high achieving women and to provide current student-athletes with encouragement and advice, we’re bringing you a new feature! It’s called GladiatHer Grads and will consist of interviews with former female student-athletes who are currently doing impressive things with their postgraduate, post-athletic lives. Our first GladiatHer Grad is Ashley Moore. Ashley is a former number 1 singles and doubles player at Howard University. She’s combined her talents on the court and the education she received from THE greatest HBCU of all time into a career as a creative, an influencer and an entrepreneur. Keep reading to learn more about this PR superstar in the making.

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It’s All About Dollars and Cents

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The WNBA Finals are here, and I haven’t written about the League
all season long.  Shame on me.  Thankfully, others have been doing a great
deal of talking about the WNBA this season.
A couple of weeks ago NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, for example, had a few
things to say.  As he sat on a panel at
the Sports Business Journal Game Changers Conference he admitted of the WNBA
that, “It’s not where we hoped it would be.
We thought it would have broken through by now.”  Silver made these comments during discussions
about WNBA player salaries.  It’s no
secret that the players are grossly underpaid.
In efforts to subsidize their incomes and continue to play the sport
they love, many players play on teams in Europe and Australia.  As frustration mounts with this method of
operating, players may begin to abandon the league for those more lucrative
leagues overseas.  This year, for
instance, star Diana Taurasi announced that she would forgo this WNBA season
and her League high salary of $107,000 to solely play in the Russian Premier
League where she would make $1.5 million.
To prevent more attrition, many are calling for increased salaries.  But the issue with that approach is that the
League can’t afford it.  While a number
of teams have finally become profitable, the profit margins have not been large
or consistent enough for teams to afford larger salaries.  The obvious next question is what needs to be
done to make the teams more profitable and therefore able to pay the athletes more?  Well, I’ve got two answers, marketing and
endorsements.  Follow me for a
spell.  

League Marketing

The old adage that it takes money to make money is
true.  Marketing an idea or a particular
venture costs money, but the return on the expense will be worthwhile if the
target audience is impressed by your product and becomes a group of paying
consumers.  Many (myself included)
believe that the WNBA should increase and diversify its marketing if it wants
to become more profitable.   The League’s core groups are families, women
over 35 and followers of college basketball.
While those groups are obviously important and not to be overlooked; the
League has to focus on broadening its fan base because dollars from those
groups simply aren’t enough.  In fact, stagnant
attendance that has yet to average over 10,000 people per game since 1999 is a
clear sign that the League must market itself to new groups.  The League needs men, young, old and single
too, to support and attend.  Perhaps they
aren’t reaching out to enough adolescence and young professionals.  Being the non-marketing strategist that I am,
it seems to me that the League might want to reach out to groups that are on
their way to making their own money and decisions on how to spend that money;
and the groups that have just started making money and are looking for ways to
spend it.  The League just has to get
creative about attracting them.  

To be fair, the League is trying.  Last year it launched WNBA Pride in an effort
to reach out to the LGBT community.  It
was an interesting approach that had many doubters and supporters.  It’s no secret that the stereotype about
female basketball players skewing lesbian exists and that many fans and players
of the sport are openly lesbian.  So, the
idea to embrace and welcome the entire LGBT community seemed to be well-placed
and likely to broaden the League’s reach.
One concern that WNBA Pride raises, however, is that it places the
League in the precarious position of confusing its potential audience and
sponsors.  Is the WNBA a cause or
entertainment?  For a League that finds
itself in middle of efforts to increase participation in and awareness about
women’s sports, WNBA Pride might suggest to the public that we should support
the WNBA because it, like fighting for the rights of the LGBT community, is a
worthy cause.  If the League is to be viewed
a cause worth championing many potential supporters might easily decide that
there are other causes, like cancer, HIV/AIDS and childhood hunger (for example),
that are more worth their efforts and dollars and less controversial.  However, if the League positions itself as a
source of sport entertainment, it opens the door for new audience members and
sponsors who just want to see a good show and just want their brands to be
associated with good competition.  So
while WNBA Pride may be a worthwhile cause, the League must be careful not to
confuse its potential market base and sell itself as good old fashioned,
entertaining sports.  

Speaking of sponsors, the WNBA has to get creative with
attracting new sponsors and even broadcasting sources.  While it’s great to have the big sponsors
like Coca-Cola, American Express and State Farm, the League should seek out
some non-traditional athletic sponsors.
If I put my marketing hat on again, I might suggest partnerships and
sponsorships with companies like Nordstrom, the Gap and Macy’s to attract those
young professionals I mentioned earlier.
And for the adolescences, maybe getting sponsorship and ad space from
new social media outlets might be a good idea.
The same holds true for broadcasting.
Having a broadcasting deal with ESPN through 2022 is great, but what
about hitting local networks and other major networks like Lifetime* and Fox
for TV time?  The more we see the WNBA,
the better.  

Individual Endorsements

Beyond the League increasing and broadening its marketing
strategies, individual endorsement packages can also help bring revenue to the
WNBA and its teams.  While individual
endorsement money goes straight into the athletes’ (and their agents’ and
attorneys’) pockets, increased player visibility indirectly brings attention to
the League and teams as a whole.  This
attention should turn into dollars.  It
worked in tennis and is already showing signs that it could work in
basketball.  If you take a look at the
landscape of tennis in the United States prior to Venus and Serena Williams stepping
on the stage, you will see that there was a presence and interest in the sport,
but not a buzz.  Their undeniable talent,
knack for winning, unique looks and monstrous endorsement deals really caused a
boon in the sport of women’s tennis nationally and internationally.  Pop culture is now invested in them and the
sport.  They grabbed everyone’s attention
and in doing so helped to grow women’s tennis.

The same can happen for women’s basketball and the
WNBA.  Winning stars who have a pop
culture presence through broad endorsement deals can increase attention on and
revenue for the League.  Skylar Diggins,
for example, has the potential to bring in the attention and the revenue.  Before even leaving college the public took
notice of her and women’s basketball.
She has since become the first female athlete to sign with Roc Nation
and has garnered numerous endorsement deals.
While injury stopped her rise this season, the ingredients are
there.  She’s got the skill, presence and
deals.  When she starts winning big she
really can take the League to higher heights.
And she’s not the only one.  If
agents can begin to secure more endorsement deals for players in the WNBA,
their pop culture presence can propel the League into new interest and revenue
streams.  

So there you have Cecelia’s recipe for future WNBA success.  It really all boils down to money.  The League has to spend it in order to make
it, and players have to secure it from outside sources to increase their and
the League’s visibility.  It is all very
possible.  As the League approaches its
20 year anniversary, I hope it takes advantage of the climate that is ripe for
the growth of women’s sports and puts its franchise out to the public in full
force to draw attention to the great athletes it has to offer.  

 

 

*The WNBA once had a broadcasting deal with Lifetime.  

Sources:

Associated Press,

WNBA’s Skylar Diggins has had busy offseason building brand, working on her basketball game,   FoxNews.com  http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/02/13/wnba-skylar-diggins-has-had-busy-offseason-building-brand-working-on-her/

SportsBusinessDaily, http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2011/05/30/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/WNBA.aspx

WNBA http://origin.wnba.com/news/sponsors.html

Beyoncé on Sports Marketing

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Earlier this week the Beyhive and the whole internet was abuzz after the sagacious Queen Bey came off of her thrown and delivered a brief essay on equality.  With a focus on equal pay, Beyoncé encouraged both women and men to demand that women be treated as equals in the workplace.  I’m the first one to tell you that I’m no Beyoncé Stan and that she’s probably not one of the first celebrities I would look to for advice, but I admit that she was spot on with her assessment.  Women have never been treated equally in the workplace.  And that lack of equality in the workplace has translated to disparaging/disproportionate treatment in the marketplace.  Women have been force-fed products that align with archaic ideas of what it means to be a woman and producers have avoided making efforts to market “boy toys” to female consumers.  Women get sold vacuum cleaners and cookware, not Chevy’s and lawn mowers.  Unfortunately, the sports world is no different.  For years, major league sports have done little to market their sports and their products to women.  The NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR and NHL have all traditionally been boys clubs where women were only allowed as cheerleaders, wives or girlfriends.  Recent statistics show; however, that women have eased their way from being supporting cast members to legitimate fans.  The growth of female sports fans should definitely be cause for consideration for the marketing departments in major league sports. 

Here are a few quick facts that should encourage any sports market strategist to take heed to female consumers.  As Beyoncé correctly pointed out, women make up more than 50% of the population.  And according to various economic sources, women control about 80% of spending in the U.S.  At least 40% of the fan base in each league (NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, NHL) are females.  These numbers mean that if major leagues are only focusing their attentions on the 50% of the population that is responsible for only 20% of spending decisions, they’re missing out on a large amount of revenue.  Women spend money on things for themselves, but they also spend on things for their families and friends.  They make decisions about date nights, family outings and girls’ trips, and they encourage other women to spend their money in the same ways that they spend money.  With all of these opportunities for women to make decisions about spending, major leagues are doing themselves a great disservice by not catering to female their consumers. 

While most of the major league organizations have not been aggressive in targeting their female fans, one has and its efforts have paid off handsomely.  The NFL, with its annual breast cancer awareness campaign and revamped clothing lines aimed at women, has seen a remarkable increase in revenue and female fan participation and satisfaction.  The more attractive the products are to women, the more women have been inclined to purchase products and attend games.  While the MLB made efforts by joining with Victoria Secret to create a line of women’s tops and the NBA made those horrible high heels, there is still more that can be done, much more.  For example, leagues (the NFL included) can target other women’s health issues, like heart disease, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases (like lupus and diabetes); conduct more family-oriented activities; improve access to restrooms throughout stadiums and tailgating areas; and continue to increase variety in apparel.  The benefits (to the leagues and the fans) of considering the female fan’s interests far outweigh any initial costs and changes can be made without disrupting the male fan experience, what’s not to love.  

If someone would have told me that I was going to wake up this morning and use Beyoncé as a point of reference for a sports article, I would have laughed.  Beyoncé’s words; however, rang true and are relevant even in sports.  Female athletes, coaches and executives get paid less and are far less represented in the media than their male counterparts.  With so much inequality among the engineers of sports, it’s no wonder that marketers haven’t taken a more aggressive approach to improving upon the female fan experience.  As time progresses and women’s sports grow, I have a good feeling that women will be able to demand more.  More as athletes, more as coaches, more as execs, and more as fans.      

Is It Worth It: Her Choice

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Last week, I published the first of part of this two-part series on the utility of women’s sports programs in college.  In part I, I reached the conclusion that, for the institutions, the value in women’s sports, in the form of institutional morale, diversity and scholarship, significantly outweighed the financial costs necessary to fund those programs.  Therefore maintaining those programs was worth it.  As I mentioned, however, the institutions are only half of the equation.  In order for women’s college sports to be a viable endeavor, the athletes themselves must also decide that playing sports in college, as opposed to skipping college in pursuit of professional sports careers, is worth the sacrifice of their time, energies, and money.  In part II, I examine the utility of college sports form the standpoint of the female athlete. 

From the start, I should establish that not all athletes are created equally.  That, of course, is no secret, but I thought it important to state so that it’s fresh in your mind as you read this article.  Not all athletes have the same skill level, personalities or opportunities.  What works for one girl may not work for another; what one girl needs, another may not.  Keep that in mind as you read on. 

Broadly speaking, I think there are 3 factors worth considering when analyzing the utility of playing college sports (there are others, but these are the big kahunas).  In no particular order (because who needs order), they are: 1) the sport the athlete plays; 2) the market; and 3) the talent.  Unlike the institutional analysis, where the outcome for each factor swung in favor of schools supporting women’s sports, these factors may play out differently for each athlete.  Here goes…

The Sport

Let’s be honest, women’s sports have yet to develop to the level that men’s sports have; therefore, the number of viable professional outlets is smaller for women, assuming that the athlete desires to live a comfortable life as a professional athlete.  (If that’s not her goal, then the pickings suddenly become less slim.)  The type of sport an athlete plays can play a major role in determining whether she should pursue that sport in college.  Generally, female athletes who participate in individual sports (i.e. tennis, golf, track and field) tend to earn more than athletes who participate in team sports (i.e. basketball, soccer and softball).  Of the athletes on Forbes’s 2013 World’s Highest Paid Female Athletes, all of them played individual sports.  The athletes, all millionaires, play tennis or golf or they skate or drive race cars.  While I am sure that if the list was broader than the top ten (say the top 50) some athletes who play team sports would be included, it is apparent that athletes who play individual sports have a higher earning potential than those in team sports. 

As I revealed in the article “The Curious Case of NCAA Violations,” female WNBA players’ salaries (which do not take into account any money earned in international leagues) max out at $105,000.  Earlier this year, the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League announced that player’s salaries would range from $6,000 to $30,000—that’s per five-month season, not per game or per month1.  The majority of players in either sport won’t get anywhere near those maximum salaries.  Those salaries, dictated by salary caps and limits that do not exist for women in individual sports, make it very difficult for women to play their sports professionally full-time, if at all.  If most women get a college degree to help them increase/maximize their earning potential, athletes in team sports may need to consider playing their sport in college so that they can train and compete for free while securing a degree that they can use professionally in the event that their respective sports careers do not provide adequate revenue. 

For those athletes who play individual sports; however, college may delay lucrative careers and prevent them from establishing rigorous training programs that will improve their skills and ability to compete.  A glance at the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) shows that not one of the top 10 players went to college before declaring themselves professional tennis players.  For many years it has been commonplace for young tennis players of exceptional talent to forgo traditional elementary, middle and high schools to enroll in special tennis academies that educate the athletes while providing world-class training and the ability to play competitively without the hindrance of traditional school schedules.  Following these experiences, the elite athletes declare themselves professional tennis players without first stepping foot on a college campus.  The high rankings and earnings show that skipping college has paid off for them. 

All of this is not to say that all individual sport athletes should go pro and all team sport athletes will be broke because nothing is guaranteed.  But considering the type of sport an athlete plays is definitely important.  Beyond the actual sport that they play, athletes may also want to consider the market before they decide whether college is the right place for them to pursue sports.  An excellent talent with no market to sell it, does not a profitable career make.

The Market

It’s clear from players’ salaries, television time and endorsement/sponsorship options that not every sport sells the same as others.  An athlete’s potential stake in the marketplace is another point of consideration for females who are making the decision to play professional sports as opposed to playing in sports in college.  If an athlete plays a sport that doesn’t command much attention from the masses, it is highly unlikely that the athlete will be able to earn a comfortable living playing that sport alone.  While athletes in individual sports tend to command higher earnings, in assessing the market, the athlete should recognize that her marketability depends on more than the sport she plays. 

Location, location, location.  It’s important in real estate and in determining whether an athlete will be marketable.  For example, in the United States, where players in the WNBA are not huge moneymakers, athletes should consider their marketability in other countries. If an athlete’s skill level is of an international caliber, she may consider forgoing college and pursuing her career overseas.  In 2012, when the average WNBA salary was about $72,000, players were able to secure seven-month contracts ranging from $40,000 to $600,000.  A select number of athletes were even able to make $1million.  So, if an athlete is willing and able to expand her reach beyond the US market, she has the chance to significantly increase her earnings. 

There’s an old saying that timing is everything.  The old adage is true in relationships and it’s true in business.  A female athlete can have all the talent and skill in the world, but if people aren’t concerned with her sport, she won’t be able to make large amounts of money or gain publicity.  Take gymnastics for example.  Generally speaking, the American public focuses its attention on gymnastics once every four years during the Olympics.  Should a young gymnast do well in the Olympics, it may be in her best financial interest to forgo the option of participating in the sport in college and collect on the potential endorsement deals and sponsorship available immediately before and after the Olympic games.  She’ll only have the public’s attention for a limited time.  Consider Gabby Douglas.  At the age of 17, she became the first woman of color and the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to win gold as the Individual All-Around Champion. She also became the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.  With her dynamic Olympic debut, in poured the money and the fame.  She could have decided to turn those opportunities down go to college; but I think that she realized that the nature of the sport and the fact that she shouldn’t guarantee repeat results or offers in the 2016 Olympics, meant that those opportunities may never come around again.  So she cashed in.

As I mentioned in Media Darlings, an athlete’s marketability also depends on factors like personality and physical appearance.  To put it bluntly, the more attractive those things are to the masses (or the more attractive people can make those things to the masses), the greater the athlete’s potential market.  And with that, we’re on to the last of the big three, and probably the most important one, talent.  Without the talent, the market and the sport really don’t matter. 

The Talent

It’s no secret that not everyone will have the skill to be a professional athlete.  More importantly, not every really good athlete will have the talent to succeed as a professional athlete.  Remember, less than 1% of student-athletes go on to play sports professionally.  So when considering her options the athlete must be honest about her skill level and the odds.  For an athlete with mediocre or just good capabilities (*points to self*), it’s probably wise for them to seriously consider taking the opportunity to play their sport in college, so that they have the ability to pursue a career other than sports should their athletic endeavors fall short of their aspirations.  A free education and a great college experience is worth its weight in gold.   

For those with exceptional talent, the decision may become a little more difficult.  Sure, this group may be really talented and may have a chance at the pros, but it’s not really a sure thing, so they can’t leave college in wind.  There are some stellar athletic programs that can give athletes access to world-class facilities and coaching.  For the athletes who may seem destined for a career in professional sports, but who have not yet had the chance to test her skills in international competition (for instance), college offers the opportunity to further develop and mature her skills, provide her with additional exposure, and prepare her for stiffer competition; all while getting her an education.  This may be the ideal solution for some; great preparation and a sweet back-up plan. 

And then you have the third class of talent; the group for whom college might seem less appealing.  These athletes have tested their talents in international competition and succeeded.  They know that they have what it takes to win and make it as a professional athlete.  They must weigh delaying the professional world or cashing in as soon as possible.  Each option has its pros and cons, but as the talent level increases, and the chance at a successful career in sports increases, the athlete has a better basis for starting her professional career without first attending college. 

The Choice

For the vast majority of female athletes, the utility of college sports is a no-brainer.  Get a free education and graduate with a degree that will prepare them for lives as non-professional athletes while playing the sports they love.  For them, sports are means to an end, a tool.  Because the number of athletes who fall into this category is so great, I would conclude that college sports are in fact still worth it for female athletes.  The symbiotic relationship between female athlete and school is still a very viable, necessary thing.  Without college sports, many female athletes would end their athletic careers in high school and many would not have the opportunity to attend college.  Without college sports, campuses would be devoid of a great bit of school spirit and diversity.  Generally speaking, it really is a profitable situation for both parties.   

But the story does not end there.  For the less than one percent of female athletes whose talent is global, college sports may be more of a hindrance than an aid.  Not only do NCAA regulations prevent them from profiting off of their expirable talents, but college curriculums prevent them for participating in rigorous training and competition that will bring out the best in their abilities.  Once these athletes consider their talent, their market and their sport, college seems more and more like an endeavor for the far off future.  Of course the athletes should and probably do take into account other things like their families and how they prioritize education.  But for the most part, as women’s sports grow, participating in college sports seems less and less worth it for these athletes.  Turning down large sums of money for a degree that can be obtained at any time seems less and less appealing.  And, in my opinion, that is a great thing.  When more women have the option to skip college or leave early, that means we have truly taken the world by storm and carved out a legitimate marketplace for women’s sports.  I’ll be happy for the day that commentators are asking how many years a school is going to get out of a basketball player before she enters the WNBA draft. Something tells me that that day is not so far off. 

Footnotes

1. Salaries for soccer players abroad tend to be significantly higher than those in the NWSL because those teams are often backed by successful male clubs. 

GRINER’S NEW TEAM

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3,283 points. 748 blocks. 18 dunks.  3-Time AP All-American. You know her name, get to know her stats.   Brittney Griner.  Over the past four years we’ve been privileged to watch this women single-handedly dominate basketball.  Her presence electrified fans and disheartened opponents.  Her voice in the media was not loud and boisterous, but her talents on the court were.  We’ll never see Griner in all her glory on court as a collegian, but the future is bright for her.  She now has the opportunity to set more records and be the best player women’s basketball has ever seen. 

With the opportunity for further glory come opportunities to become the face of the sport, redefine female athletes, and make millions.  Her on-court prowess will afford her the opportunity to create a unique brand that celebrates her and encourages the celebration of female athletes.  To best maximize her potential, Griner must choose her team wisely.  When I say team, I’m not referring to her future WNBA team; but the management team that will help her traverse the world of professional sports.  A great team can make Griner a successful businesswoman and basketball player.  It can help her build a brand that influences the world and makes her a household name.  The wrong team can lead her to bad business decisions and heartache.  So Griner must choose wisely.  In picking her management, she should keep three things in mind, and cut people from her team who don’t support her. 

Number 1: Be Herself

Shakespeare wrote it best, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”  If Griner can’t be herself when promoting herself or someone’s product, her promotion endeavors won’t be successful.  To build a successful, long-lasting and profitable brand, Griner has to be believable to her fans and to consumers, and that’s not possible if she is pretending to be someone’s she isn’t. 

The media repeatedly promotes female athletes in a feminine, sexualized manner in an attempt to maintain gender norms of male dominance and female subservience under the guise of selling products.  I’ve seen it happen time after time when an athlete goes from cornrows and sneakers to straight hair and heels to try to fit “the mold” and become more marketable.  If Griner isn’t a make-up, stiletto wearing type of lady, she shouldn’t feel compelled to conform to be that (or anything that isn’t a reflection of her) just to improve her marketability.  I’m not saying that Griner needs to be willing to put the feminist struggle on her back and change the way we view female athletes (unless of course she wants to), but she should be able to be successful being just who God made her.  If her team can’t find a way to package her that is a both marketable and honest reflection of her; they shouldn’t be a part of her team. 

Number 2: Watch for the Glitter

There’s an old saying, “All that glitters is not gold.”  I hope that Griner either already knows or quickly realizes that every shiny person and every offer aren’t golden no matter how much they glitter.  Otherwise she could find herself learning the hard way that shiny deals can obscure ulterior motives.

Case in point: Mark Cuban’s recent offer to select Griner in the NBA draft.  The offer to be one of the first woman ever drafted into (and perhaps play for) the NBA seems alluring, but a wiping off the glitter shows that this really wouldn’t be a stellar move for Griner.  Participating in the NBA draft would demean Griner’s talents.  Instead of basking the rightfully earned glory of being one of the best female players the sport has ever seen, Griner would unnecessarily be subjected to criticism that she isn’t strong, fast or good enough for the man’s game.  Whether that statement is accurate is immaterial.  Griner should not be compared to men.  She’s a woman and a magnificent ball player.  Such comparisons won’t elevate her, only tear her down and detract from her accomplishments.  The one who truly stands to profit from Griner’s participation in the NBA draft is Cuban.  The coverage and potential ticket sales that Cuban would receive at the expense of Griner’s legacy would be enormous.  I suspect that Cuban’s offer as more to do with his profit margins and less to do with making Griner one of the most successful basketball players ever.  Hopefully Griner surrounds herself with a team that can successfully assess the genuine and long-term effects of partnering with various brands and endeavors. 

Number 3: Ignore the Haters

My third point doesn’t come with a quote but it’s paramount to the success of points one and two.  Ignore the Haters.  Griner has plenty of haters.  For instance, Griner’s success has been subjected to the cruel commentaries, from people who will never accomplish half of what Griner has accomplished in her less than twenty-five years on this earth, filled with overt sexism and gender biases that unnecessarily question her sexuality.  Despite the ignorance, Griner has remained classy and continued to dominate in her craft. 

It’s imperative that she continues to ignore the incessant commentary.  If Griner falls victim to the haters, she may feel the need to compromise in efforts to silence the hate.  Griner must know that silencing haters is an impossible challenge.  She’ll always have haters, so trying to please them will only cause her to lose herself.  In selecting her team she should choose management that is equipped to ignore haters and think outside of the box.  If Griner and her team feel pressure to conform she might tragically be convinced that compromise is a necessary evil on the road to success. 

Brittney Griner has the world ahead of her.  She will have many opportunities and her success will be based on how true she remains to herself and how smart and creative her team is.  I hope she chooses wisely.

Shakespeare, William, Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, Line 78.