This Is Currently the Worst Narrative About the WNBA’s Media Coverage

You don’t have to be a die-hard WNBA fan to have opinions on WNBA opinions.
Caitlin Clark has brought a lot of eyes to the WNBA this season.
Caitlin Clark has brought a lot of eyes to the WNBA this season. / Joe Timmerman/IndyStar / USA TODAY

1. I can’t tell you how much I hate these takes.

Actually, I’m lucky enough to have my own column, so I can tell you how much I hate these tweets and I will tell you how much I hate them.

First, and most important, I’m not trying to single out the writers of tweets. I’m not familiar with either of their work, but I’ve seen this take a lot over the past few weeks and these particular tweets were retweeted into my feed Monday and pushed me to write about it.

The theory that you have to be a long-time WNBA follower/watcher in order to voice an opinion about general issues regarding the league and the game is complete nonsense.

You don’t have to watch every WNBA game to know this is a cheap shot.

Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows this is a dirty play.

I agree that someone who doesn’t follow the WNBA shouldn’t be breaking down which team has the best defense or which coaches are great at X’s and O’s strategy. But the idea that unless you are a hardcore WNBA watcher you should shut up about anything related to the league goes against everything that is sports.

People are allowed to talk about a sport without covering that sport. People who have large platforms are allowed to weigh in on any sports topic they want if they think the general audience will respond, watch, or click.

What so many people seem to be forgetting about what’s going on with the WNBA right now is that sports are supposed to be fun. Sports are supposed to be entertaining. Sports are a watercooler topic. A huge part of sports fandom is arguing, offering opinions and debating. The WNBA has that right now because of Caitlin Clark.

Here's the other thing that’s going on here. Sports are also a business. It’s a business for companies and individuals who rely on page views, engagement, clicks, subscriptions, video views, etc. If the people in those businesses see that Clark drives those things (and she does), then they will give you as much Clark content as possible regardless of what their WNBA coverage has been in the past. This is just Business 101.

So if there’s a dirty play in any sport, or if a player gets a historic contract in any sport, or if a player sets ratings records in any sport, it’s going to get talked about by plenty of people who don’t follow the sport.

The other issue here is Clark has crossed over into the mainstream. She gets covered on the Today show, network evening news, People magazine, TMZ, etc. She is not just a sports figure at this point. She is also a pop-culture figure.

Whether you like it or not, more people are watching the WNBA and attending the WNBA because of Clark. That can’t be argued. And a lot of those people just care about Clark and not the WNBA. So people with small platforms, big platforms and no platforms are going to opine on any and everything related to Clark. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

2. In Monday’s Traina Thoughts, we told you about Monica McNutt pushing back against Stephen A. Smith on First Take about his coverage of the WNBA. Smith wanted credit for talking about the WNBA on the show and McNutt said, “Stephen A., respectfully, with your platform you could’ve been doing this three years ago if you wanted to."

Smith was so heated that he addressed this entire thing later in the day on his podcast.

Here’s the reality though. You know why Smith has covered the WNBA? And do you know why ESPN covers the WNBA? Because the network airs WNBA games. If you think ESPN would spend as much time covering the WNBA if they didn’t have television rights, I have three words for you: National. Hockey. League. ESPN gave the NHL very little coverage when it didn’t air games.

3. Good news for Good Morning Football fans. Kyle Brandt revealed Monday that he will remain with the show when it moves from New York City to Los Angeles later this summer. Brandt will be on the air five days a week. Jamie Erdahl has already announced that she’s making the move to California.

4. Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano, who appeared in 75 games for the San Diego last season, was suspended for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for betting on the sport.

Marcaho definitely seems like he enjoys placing a wager.

He was found to have placed 387 baseball bets from Oct. 16, 2022 to Nov. 1, 2023, totaling more than $150,000.

The problem is that 231 of those wagers included MLB games. The league says 25 of those bets included wagers on Pittsburgh Pirates games while he was on the team’s major league roster.

5. Summer is here. Beach season is here. And Scott Van Pelt has a very important message, which he totally nailed.

6. The latest episode of SI Media With Jimmy Traina features a conversation with Charles Barkley.

The Inside the NBA host discusses the possibility of TNT losing the NBA in the current television rights negotiations, his frustration with the lack of communication from Warner Brothers Discovery about the negotiations, whether the show could continue on another network, reaction from fans to the possible end of Inside the NBA, the awkwardness of still having to work next season for TNT if it loses the NBA beginning in the 2025–26 season, and the lack of loyalty from the NBA and what would make him decide between ESPN, NBC and Amazon if he became a free agent.

Barkley also goes off on CNN for never telling him that his show with Gayle King, King Charles, was canceled, he explains what could make him be the subject of a comedy roast, who the two nicest GOATs are in sports, the Lakers saying that LeBron James doesn't have a say in their coaching search and the reaction to his recent Caitlin Clark rant.

Following Barkley, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for the weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week's topics include the passing of Bill Walton, Ángel Hernández's retirement from Major League Baseball, the mystery behind the Dov Kleiman Twitter account and the latest story about a restaurant charging for a ridiculous service.

You can also listen to the SI Media With Jimmy Traina below or on Apple and Spotify.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated‘s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Since I included Scott Van Pelt’s rant about going to the beach today, we should remember when happened when Larry David went to the beach.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.


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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina is a media writer and podcast host for Sports Illustrated. A 20-year veteran, he’s been covering the media industry for seven years and writes a weekly column at SI, Traina Thoughts. Jimmy has hosted the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast since 2018, a show known for interviews with some of the most important and powerful people in sports media. He also was the creator and writer for SI’s Hot Clicks feature from 2007 to 2013.