Friday, September 18, 2009
Back in November 1969, Richard Nixon used the phrase "silent majority" for the first time. There were a large number of Americans protesting loudly against the Vietnam War. "And so tonight," said Nixon, "to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans - I ask for your support." Nixon believed that a loud minority overshadowed the fact that many Americans supported Nixon's efforts in Vietnam, but were simply not as vocal as the protestors.
John Klein of the Tulsa World writes about the Tulsa's quest for a WNBA team and how it seems to have brought the haters out of the woodwork:
Few things, including the success or failure of local college football teams, has generated such strong feelings in recent weeks as the possibility of the WNBA landing a franchise in Tulsa.
There has been no shortage of fans willing to trash everything about the WNBA. Where those strong feelings come from, and what they say about our society, is better left to the sociologists.
Just as race relations has become a hot topic with the election of President Barack Obama, the WNBA has sparked a similar debate over gender equity in sports.
Many argue that they just don't like women's basketball. That's fair.
What doesn't seem to fit is the strong opposition some have to even giving the WNBA a shot in Tulsa. They don't want the WNBA in Tulsa or anywhere else.
Of course, some argue that a WNBA team will not be successful in Tulsa, but those people are arguing numbers. They're not claiming that the WNBA shouldn't be allowed in Tulsa; they hope for the best for the team but just don't believe it will succeed. There is, however, a more loutish element separate from the one previously mentioned. I would tell Mr. Klein that the more hateful opposition ties in to my view that some men see sports as the Temple of the Male Religion. Their hatred is not grounded in rationality; they cannot be reasoned out of it and it's a waste of time to even try to.
Klein's final paragraphs, however, are the most telling:
There will be a core group that won't miss a game and will be the first in line for tickets. There will be a small group that don't want to be in the same state with a WNBA team.
But, it is that silent majority who will ultimately determine the future of the league. Women's basketball does not have the built-in fan base of men's basketball, football or baseball. The WNBA is the major league of a sport that wants to be considered a major league.
Trying to gauge the size of that group, willing to give the WNBA a fair shot in Tulsa, remains the big question.
It looks like there is one member of that "majority" that is not so silent - the Tulsa World. Reading Tulsa's media coverage, my conclusion is that the Tulsa media is behind the WNBA team and will definitely support it. I wish I could say the same about Atlanta's media - I suspect a lot of commenters to those Tulsa World WNBA articles have part-time jobs with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's sports department.
I'd like to conclude with another Nixon phrase from the "Silent Majority" speech with regard to the WNBA. "If it does succeed, what the critics say now won't matter. If it does not succeed, anything (we) say then won't matter."