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A challenge to the women's basketball family
NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide) - It was with a heavy heart last week that I felt the need to pose a challenge to the women’s basketball family.
It came after news that the terrific lovewomensbasktball.com was closing its doors after volunteer editor, contributor and general women's basketball fanatic Janis Kacens was no longer able to continue.
I will declare from the outset, I have a vested interest. I set up the site originally as I was fed up with not being able to go to a central point where news from right around the women's basketball world could be accessed in one place.
The prospect of that situation occurring again pains me greatly - and hopefully not only me, but for the many coaches, players, scouts, agents, clubs and fans that I absolutely know have visited the site on a regular basis.
So, why does it matter so much?
Well there is a dearth of resources covering women's basketball and the overwhelming majority are official sites with their own agendas and editorial strategy - FIBA being the main case in point.
They have a strategy to promote the biggest stars and to promote the flagship competitions. With pressure to grow spectators, followers and revenue, it is an understandable one.
That is me not pandering to my paymasters - that is just the reality and pragmatism required in the commercial sporting environment at the elite level. It is unrealistic to expect an all encompassing coverage of the women's game - or men's game for that matter.
Having a truly independent site like lovewomensbasketball.com brings not only the ability to scrutinise and challenge what is going on in the women's game, but it also gives a platform for some of the less known competitions and leagues - those which continually get lost amongst the low hanging fruit of Diana Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne and Alba Torrens which dominate.
It can also enjoy the proliferation of the gossip and rumours of who is heading where during the transfer merry-go-round for example - that is part of the appeal and fun.
Only this site does not happen by accident. The enjoyment attained by those thousands of people from across the basketball community has been brought to you by Janis in what has been a 'labour of love'. Often controversial, I have not always agreed with him, but the respect I have for the countless hours of work he has put into this project and the knowledge he has could not be higher.
But why do we have to place so much expectation on someone doing on top of a day job and on top of studying?
It is time for the women's basketball community to respond.
I feel that if we can't get 250 people to pay $4 or about 3-4 euros per month (basically a cup of coffee or so) to support the cost of running the site and to actually compensate and support those who burn the midnight oil continuously, then this is a damning indictment of women's basketball.
It isn't about the money at all for Janis, who regretfully may not even continue. But it is an integral and necessary part for those who do pick up the reins, because this needs to be done properly.
I am willing to help with the transition as I did when I handed over the site to Janis in the distant past. I am also willing to put together a small team of writers - mainly voluntarily, but one or two to really drive the site forward and take control.
I have been campaigning in recent days via a basic crowdfund appeal to the women's basketball community to raise $1000/900 euros per month. I don't really have the time or energy to do or oversee all of this - but the passion I have for the women's game still calls the shots and so I have stepped forward.
The campaign can be accessed and all grateful donations made here.
I have seen this thing happen so many times before. People look away and yet those same people who feel they shouldn't have to spend the price of a cup of coffee each month, then subsequently moan about women's basketball not having enough online presence.
Well, it is time to step up.
So far I am thrilled that a reigning EuroLeague Women champion and national team star in Ilona Burgrova of ZVVZ USK Prague and Czech Republic has become the first player to make a pledge - quickly followed by Slovak Republic and Good Angels Kosice play-caller Maros Kovacik.
Many of my own colleagues have contributed too – and some of them don't even like women's basketball (they know who they are), but that makes it all the more appreciated.
I know that this appeal shouldn't have to be the case and is completely unpalatable - while some (including myself) may even say it's disgrace we need to hold out a begging bowl for a few crumbs - but it is what it is.
Women's basketball doesn't have the thousands of independent sites which the men's game has. We can't let womensbasketball.com slip away. If that happens, it really will signal the bitterest of losses for the women's basketball community.
I have constantly referred to the women's basketball family in the past, I just hope I will be proved right and the site can live on with help from within.
So please… players, clubs, coaches, agents, scouts and even a sponsor(s) - don't look the other way.
I can't even bear to contemplate what it would say about the women's basketball community if we don't reach our target.
FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.
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