Accurately naming the two teams playing against each other is as basic as it gets in terms of duties related to televising a basketball game. When it comes to coverage of the WNBA, however, the task apparently isn’t so simple. On Sunday, a screen-sized graphic advertised a nonexistent contest between the Las Vegas Aces and the Indiana Fever.
The Aces were hosting the Washington Mystics, not the Fever.
Olympic gold medalists A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray (of the USA Basketball 5×5 team) and Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young (of the USA Basketball 3×3 team) reunited with Liz Cambage, Riquna Williams and the Aces’ other difference-makers to force an 84-83 come-from-behind win.
But, sadly, no matter what great things happen on the court, pedestrian mistakes such as listing the incorrect team on a graphic, mispronouncing players’ names or bungling graphics featuring starting lineups are gallingly common in coverage of the WNBA. Multiple times during the 2021 season, starting lineups have been presented with neither rhyme nor reason for the player pairings.
In a contest between the Sparks and Phoenix Mercury earlier this season, center Amanda Zahui B was listed next to Kia Nurse, a guard, and Karlie Samuelson, a forward, was listed next to Brittney Griner, a center.
Other broadcasts have done an even worse job and listed players in ways only the creator of the graphic could discern: not by position, not in alphabetical order and not by jersey number.
We NEVER see these mistakes in broadcasts of NBA, NFL or MLB games. And we should not be seeing them in coverage of the WNBA, a major professional sports league with big-dollar sponsors, high-profile players and an engaged fan base that is increasing in size. That we see them repeatedly suggests that the people hired to make these graphics either don’t know which positions the players play or don’t care, and neither scenario is acceptable.
In the case of the Fever logo being mistaken for the Mystics’, it comes down to a person grabbing a logo with a majority blue background and rolling with it — the name of the team on that logo, be damned.
Such sloppiness and inattention to detail undercut the league’s credibility. These utterly preventable egregious mistakes are embarrassments that thwart the WNBA’s goals for sustainability. The teams, their players and the fans deserve better.
In fact, they deserve the same quality of coverage as any NBA, NFL or MLB broadcast … all the time.