Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Brittney Griner the "Killer App" for the WNBA?

There's no one to compare her to.

In Steve Tally's Almost America, he refers to Babe Ruth as the "killer app" for radio. A killer app is a piece of software that is so attractive that people will buy the hardware just to be able to use the software. According to Tally, people would purchase radios who had never purchased them before just to hear about (since they couldn't see) Babe Ruth and his homerun-hitting exploits.

Babe Ruth absolutely dominated baseball, to the point where you can divide baseball into a "pre-1920" (dead ball) and "post-1920" (live ball) era. Ruth actually swung different - baseball in his time was predicated upon moving a runner from base to base to base. Swinging for the fence was considered to be inefficient, but Ruth showed that way of thinking was the way of the dodo.

I've recently read a Houston Chronicle story about future college prospect Brittney Griner. I'll give you some facts about Griner. She's 6'8" tall, and still growing, and she dunks - regularly - in high school games. As a result, a paper that has paid scant attention to the Comets in their hayday is suddenly languishing its love on someone who hasn't played college ball.

She's scoring 27.1 points per game and 13 times, her point total alone has either equaled or exceeded the entire point total of the opposing team. Some say that she could eclipse even Candace Parker.

I'm wondering if Brittney Griner is going to be the "killer app" of the WNBA. Even people who hate the WNBA are forced to pay attention. There are the inevitable comments about her husky voice -- at 6'8", what do you expect? Her vocal cords are going to be different. One poster to the Chronicle complained that "How hard can it be to dunk a ball if you're 6'8"?" - which is a complaint that could be made about most NBA players.

This might lead to people attending WNBA games just to see Brittney Griner. The naysayers might think "I hate women's basketball, but I have to see that Griner woman up close." Certainly, if she remains healthy and puts up numbers in college like the ones she put up in high school, you can see her as being a potential #1 pick. Not to mention endorsements.

Of course, this is idle speculation. But if Chamique Holdsclaw could bring in an extra 500 in attendance or so per game, and if Candace Parker's pregnancy makes front page news in sports, imagine what Brittney Griner is going to do to the profile of the WNBA.

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