Mar 11, 2010, 12:00 PM EST
In which Marion Jones is signed by the WNBA Tulsa Shock, causing our Jelisa Castrodale to uncharacteristically throw her laptop down the stairs. So if there are typos, it’s from the bouncing. Here’s your Thursday Jelisahol; a bit early this week!
By Jelisa Castrodale
Humans are inherently social creatures, with almost every day bringing a new innovation designed to help us reconnect with others or allowing us to remain aware of our friends without the need for a ladder and night vision goggles. That said, there are still a number of things that we keep to ourselves, those squirm-inducing activities we do only behind deadbolted doors and tightly pulled curtains; whether it’s singing along to Air Supply or ordering anything from SkyMall or following the WNBA.
Yesterday, the WNBA made unavoidable headlines for something other than going into debt or making layups when the Tulsa Shock announced that they were signing former Olympic sprinter and convicted felon Marion Jones to a one year contract. Despite her admitted steroid use and possible prison tattoos, it’s not super-surprising that she would end up with a pro sports franchise; I just assumed it would’ve been the Bengals.
Although Jones won a national title with UNC in 1994, she hasn’t played competitive basketball since 1997. That means that the last time Jones wore a uniform that wasn’t issued by the state, Princess Diana was alive, Celine Dion was popular and we thought Ben Affleck was the smart one. So does it matter that she’s more than a decade out of practice? Do people watch the WNBA for the skill level and expertise of the players listed in the program? That’s a trick question. People don’t watch the WNBA, period.
The fact is that putting the word “women’s” in front of a noun seems to automatically relegate it to the novelty bin, whether it’s women’s basketball, women’s hockey or women’s suffrage. For the WNBA, a league that hemmorhages money — an estimated $1.5 million per year — this kind of headscratcher grabs headlines for an afternoon but it won’t garner long-term interest, secure additional fans, or encourage anyone to linger on ESPN2 for more a few seconds before they flip to another episode of “The World’s Funniest Colonoscopies.”
During yesterday’s press conference, WNBA president Donna Orender said that “Having somebody like [Jones] associated with our league is positive.” Really, Donna? Because every article that I double-clicked inevitably described her as the “disgraced sprinter” who was forced to return her gold medals like they were a stack of overdue library books. The only “positive” I can think of is that Jones might be willing to be paid in cigarettes and clean pillowcases.
Stunts like signing Jones or allowing then fifty-year old Nancy Lieberman to play two games don’t bring credibility to the league any more than Wile E. Coyote’s handmade ‘Super Genius’ business cards made it less likely for his skull to get crushed by an anvil. That said, there will be people interested in seeing Marion Jones play basketball, led by the same kind of curiosity that leads you to pull a crumpled wad of dollars out of your pocket so you can see the Snake Girl at the Dixie Classic Fair. And, just like seeing a poorly stitched reptile on a velvet pillow, it’ll be less than you expected, reasonably disappointing and more than a little depressing.
As she wrapped up the announcement yesterday, Orender said that she “join[s] the rest of America in wanting to watch this story unfold.” I’m not sure exactly where that part of America is — probably wedged somewhere between Narnia and an unterrifying Walmart bathroom — but if it indeed exists, you can guarantee they’ll be watching from behind closed doors.
Jelisa Castrodale is a writer and comedian who has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. She chronicles her failures at The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, covers music for London’s BitchBuzz and twitters while she waits at stoplights. Castrodale was featured in the book Twitter Wit and was named one of Mashable’s 10 Funniest Twitterers.
Also by Jelisa Castrodale …
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found