Former Minnesota Lynx forward Candice Wiggins went on the record with the San Diego Union-Tribune in wake of her retirement.
An eight year veteran, and former 2nd round pick out of Stanford, Wiggins turned down a contract extension with the Liberty last season, and abruptly left the WNBA for reasons that were not totally disclosed at the time.
I found her statements to the Union Tribune to be shocking, and disappointing.
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.
“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.
“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.”
She described the WNBA as having a “harmful culture”, and she described the business as a “survival league”.
The league has it’s problems, but as we reported last summer, much of the struggle is due to the professional apathy of the NBA league office.
There is no way to verify what percentage of the WNBA is homosexual, but it’s fair to say the distributuon is much higher than any other sports league in America.
And so what?
What’s wrong with that?
The WNBA is a tolerant place, part of the league’s general message is acceptance, and it’s a beauitful disposition to have.
I have spoken with the Commissioner of the league, general managers, agents, players, and other officials many times, never in my time on the beat have I been led to believe that being hetrosexual in the WNBA is some type of handicap.
I also did not see this culture of bullying and jealousy, and I doubt the interns who were with me in the field saw it either.
All I can remember, as a person who sat in press row night in and night out, was the professional optimism of the players, and the fact that everyone seemed to respect each other beyond the game of basketball.
I saw one fight, and it wasn’t even really a fight.
I also never got the sense that homosexual players took issue with hetrosexual players.
So what is Wiggins talking about?
I certianly saw my share of same sex couples, but I also saw plenty of players that have husbands, and kids.
Not to say that homosexuality is not prevelant in the WNBA because it is, but to make it seem like a hostile workplace is less than accurate.
In fact, Connecticut Sun Coach Curt Miller, who I found to be a joy to cover, is the first homosexual coach major American sports has ever seen, and coach had no issue discussing it with reporters who have asked him about it in the past.
These all good things, I would prefer a league that is open, and accepting of all the different forms of sexuality as oppose to the NFL where you can be black balled for being even hinting that your homosexual .
Wiggins is throwing a blanket over alot of people, and perhaps she should have considered what affect her words would have on the public perception of the WNBA.
I would not classify her statements as homophobia, but she did cite data that does not exist, and appeared miffed by the idea that a league could be a thriving resource for homosexual athletes.
She also implied that the WNBA wants its players to play and act like men, as if the league office wants the players to alter who they are.
“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,’ she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”
Of the league as a whole, Wiggins said, “Nobody cares about the WNBA. Viewership is minimal. Ticket sales are very low. They give away tickets and people don’t come to the game.”
Another senseless allegation with no basis whatsoever.
The WNBA is all about female empowerment, it’s a central theme if you pay attention.
If Wiggins felt bullied, or treated differently, that’s awful, and it’s something that should addressed.
But why is she doing saying something now?
Why not when it occurred?
Gives us names, examples, so something can be done about it.
Dont’ throw the entire league under the bus in an interview with flimsy facts, and conjecture.
I also covered with Lynx 2 different times, before the game, and after the game in the dressing room, at no point did I ever get the sense that those players were capable of the type of behavior described in this story.
Not once, and she is talking about her teammates above everyone else.