Monday, July 27, 2009

WNBA's Mystics vs. the "KissCam"

In today's Washington Post, sports columnist Mike Wise writes about the WNBA's Washington Mystics and an issue with the "KissCam." At other sporting events, cameramen and women find an (unsuspecting) couple, put their images on the big screen, and wait for their reaction (which usually involves a quick kiss).

The Washington, DC's Mystics do not have such a practice, and when asked about it, Sheila Johnson, Mystics's managing partner, replied, "We got a lot of kids here...We just don't find it appropriate." When asked through a spokesman, WNBA President Donna Orender put out a blanket statement: The league leaves KissCam-type decisions to individual arenas and franchises.

What should be understood is that women's professional basketball has two major fan bases: dads and daughters, and lesbians.

Says columnist Mike Wise, "It's understandable that a financially shaky league is outright terrified it could alienate a chunk of its fan base if two same-sex people shared a chaste kiss on a video scoreboard. Hello, gay and lesbian jokes. Goodbye, heterosexual family ticket plans. Goodbye, progress. "

But how long does a league keep some of its most loyal and longtime customers in the closet? How long should any historically persecuted group keep quiet when the Mystics take sponsorship dollars from a company noted for discrimination against gays? [One of the Mystics' big sponsors is ExxonMobil, which scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. When Exxon acquired Mobil a decade ago, it removed explicit protections for employees based on sexual orientation from the company's anti-discrimination policies. Despite shareholder pressure, the company hasn't budged.]

Others understand the Mystics' position. Cathy Nelson of the Human Rights Campaign's said in a phone interview, "Sheila and the Mystics have been nothing but supportive in our mind, showing up at all our dinners, events, even bringing the whole team once."

And, says Wise, "who is Johnson to turn down sponsorship dollars when so few are available? When your principles and beliefs supersede financial health, how is a defunct team and league going to help promote the very values the WNBA espouses to little girls?"

We wouldn't broadcast on our Jumbotron about abortion issues because of the religious and political conflicts it would cause," said Lindsey Harding, the team's point guard. "It's a similar, sensitive subject. We don't want to put anything out there to turn down certain fans."

Which side of the issue do you stand on? Can you see the Johson's reasoning, or do you you think that no matter what, the Mystics should include a "KissCam" at their Verizon Center games? Leave a comment and let us know where you stand on the issue.

1 comment:

Gold51 said...

No, I don't think people are ready for it. If we can't even get married what makes you think they want to see us display PDA? I the issue, but I like the mystics games..and doing it would probably bring out more fans in the LGBT community, but then advertising for the women in the WNBA who have worked their tails off to finally get recognized would struggle.

Is it discrimination YES. I believe it would do more harm than good. Hate crime central I could see it now. When Mike approached me I gave the most honest answer, and I am pro-athlete as well and the sport I play is in an increased struggle for support. If you started this in the WNBA it would only help the LGBT community, and nothing else. I am for our community, but I do not want to have to fear losing something because we are trying to force the US to agree that we are a democracy. I believe if you started the movement on the WEST COAST and moved this direction EASTBOUND, it would begin to grow on people.