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'The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...'

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Subject: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: John Sage (jsage@finchhaven.com)
Date: Tue Dec 22 18:29:22 PST 1998

It seems horribly ironic that I'm typing this about 45 minutes before I go out to coach a 7th-8th grade girls' basketball camp, but having learned that the ABL is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, I'm moved to say something.

Unfortunately, the clowns who are so busy bringing you the NBA players' lockout have won. All the rich white guys who run American consumerist sports have won. All the smirky guys who announce on ESPN have won.

My daughter and her buddies who love basketball, and all the other teenage girls who love basketball, and the college women who love basketball, and the women of the ABL who love basketball, have all lost.

The death of the ABL and all it represents is a tragedy for women's basketball, and women's sports, because it represents the triumph of monopolistic consumerist marketing over an attempt to establish a professional women's sport by outsiders who had set the interests of the players as a first priority.

The ABL was killed simply because all the rich white guys - from the NBA to ESPN to Fox Sports to all the major-market mass-media good 'ol boys - just decided that if they ignored the ABL, it would go away.

And it did go away. It's dead - from deliberate, conscious neglect - neglect by all the male insiders who wouldn't give it a moment's respect because it was women, and because it wasn't controlled by the sports establishment.

Make no mistake - this has nothing to do with sports.

This is the triumph of male sexism over feminism, a slap at Title 9, the continued onslaught of monopolistic consumerism into all aspects of American culture.

If the Justice Department thinks it needs to look into Microsoft's business practices, how about looking into the American sports monopoly?

But the American sports monopoly is too difused - there's not one entity that's guilty - it's the entire network of guys and guys-sports that's at fault.

That network is one reason I've really got to go down to basketball practice tonight: you see, we were promised the whole gym, but now boys' junior basketball is starting up, and suddenly we're being squeezed down to half the gym - we get one full court, and the boys get one full court.

But I hear that there's going to be two boy's teams there tonight, so we're likely to get squeezed down to a half-court - or get squeezed out entirely - if I'm not down there early to stake-out our turf.

See a pattern? I do: The boys get it all, and the girls get, well... squeezed out.

More later, as time permits...


- John

All Replies...

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: dewdrop (
Date: Tue Dec 22 18:52:43 PST 1998


Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Les Blizz Fan (
Date: Tue Dec 22 19:16:17 PST 1998

Well put, very eloquent, my thoughts exactly. In response to today's announcement, my partner has just cut to pieces every NBA hat she owns (and she loves her hat collection) and is sending them to David Stern as a Xmas present. Not another dime comes out of our pockets for any of these "boys" sports.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Lompican44 (
Date: Tue Dec 22 20:51:21 PST 1998

John........you got it right from my view.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: brock (
Date: Tue Dec 22 21:17:48 PST 1998


I didn't put it so nicely in my response to the post "what went wrong?" But, you're EXACTLY right.

I also agree that no money is coming out of my pocket for men's pro sports anymore. When Roger Clemens can beleive he is worth $180 million, approximately enough money to keep a whole women's sports league going for several years, then something is down right wrong with our society. No more paying for a $50 cheap seat to watch spoiled, rich, male athletes.

I plan on letting all those "rich white guys" know how I feel too. I may just be one voice, but I've been second fiddle to male athletes my whole life and I'm getting pretty damn tired of it.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: :~ ( (
Date: Tue Dec 22 21:41:21 PST 1998

Did you hear the wnba's official reaction? They had a quote on the news, something about how much they respected the passion of the ABL players, personnel and fans and how they had furthered the cause of women's sports or something like that. It made me sick. I still keep thinking there must be something we can do.

Subject: re: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Scott Larson (
Date: Tue Dec 22 21:58:12 PST 1998

Yeah, giving them a chance to spend the summer earning extra pocket money and fewer benefits than most temp workers by playing for billionare NBA owners before they go back to their real jobs overseas to earn a real living wage.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Etheridge James (
Date: Tue Dec 22 23:36:05 PST 1998

You hit the nail right on the head. I work and attend a community college in the SF bay area and recently (football season) there were some women taking a Saturday swimming class. When the class was over they were told that they couldn't go into the WOMEN'S locker room to change clothes because the visiting football team was in there for their half-time. These women asked why the team couldn't go into the men's locker room and the response was that the teams would fight. The swimming coach was too much of a wimp to challenge the football coach. The security officer on duty told the women that they could use one of the women's rest rooms in another building. It's the same old song. If the men's team needs (wants) something they get it. If someone is hurt or inconvenienced by that too bad. It's about time that stopped. I think the time is now. In your situation I would hope that you got the space your team needed. If not fight to the highest court you can. One of the problems as I see it is that we teach girls that they have to be second to the boys. Show them that you will fight for them. That IS what this country was founded on. I quit supporting mens teams back when the baseball players went on strike the first time. Sadly I had many friends men and women telling me that I couldn't boycott men's sports because "what if I had a son who wanted to see a game?" I had a daughter and she wanted to see a Giants game. I decided to let it go after telling her why I wanted to boycott them and she insisted. Before the next home game it was announced that they were going on strike again. She underestood then.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Deborah (
Date: Wed Dec 23 0:06:42 PST 1998

John, thank you for your comments. I have no doubt that the ABL would have made it without the interference from the NBA. And I agree it has nothing to do with sports which is why I've said all along to those who say we have to support both leagues, it's NOT just about basketball.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: Nancy (
Date: Wed Dec 23 6:04:01 PST 1998

I sat here all morning trying to put into words how I felt about the ABL folding. Thank you John for saying it for me. As a Quest season ticket holder I've had the pleasure of watching the best women's basketball in the world. As a Clevland Ohio resident and Rocker season ticket holder I have watched sub par play. Players whose real season is in Europe are not willing to take a charge or dive for the ball because if they get hurt in summer league there goes the real salary. Players whose season is so short just as they get used to playing as a team the season is over. The WNBA won the marketing war--let's hope they are now willing to upgrade the product.

Rick-you're right about one thing-women and men need to support women's teams by buying tickets. It was appalling to see how few fans were in the stands. I've heard people complaining about how they couldn't afford the tickets and then watched them drop more that the ticket price on beer at the local pub. The fans going to the games were hardly high rollers-they just made a financial commitment to women's basketball and were well rewarded with great play.

Subject: re: The end of the ABL - the view from the floor...
From: pmw (
Date: Wed Dec 23 6:14:31 PST 1998

John -- You have stated what I am feeling right now. I couldn't come up with the words, but you have.

PLEASE send this to the newspapers, all of them (especially USA Today). Maybe some eyes will open.

God Bless!

ABL Website Links Map

This whole deal was originally done by Medius Interactive and the American Basketball League, but I saved what you're seeing here before it vanished forever. (Since I was a Seattle Reign season ticket holder, I feel they owe me something). Think of me as an historian. Future generations of young girls should know what was.

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