Definitions

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Women's basketball

For the ball sport played in the Commonwealth previously known as "women's basketball", see netball
Women's basketball is one of the few games which developed in tandem with its men's counterpart. It became popular, spreading from the east coast of the United States to the west coast, in large part via women's colleges. From 1892 until 1960, the term "women's basketball" was also used when referring to netball, which evolved in parallel to modern women's basketball.

History

Early women's basketball

, it was well established at several other women's colleges.

Title IX

Historical Development

federal funding for any violation (Sadker, 2001).

Between 1971 and 2000, Title IX has proven to have had a huge impact on female collegiate sports.for the women’s NCAA March Madness tournament” (McDonagh, Pappano, 2008, 109).

Timeline

1891: James Naismith invents the sport of basket ball in Springfield, Massachusetts. 1969: The Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW) awards the first collegiate national championship for women's basketball.

1990: Pat Summitt is the first female to win the John Bunn Award, the most prestigious award given by the Basketball Hall of Fame.

1991: A jury awards money for a lawsuit filed under Title IX. Sanya Tyler, the women's basketball coach at Howardwith discrimination. She claimed she was denied the job of athletic director and was being paid less than the men's basketball coach.

1994: Nike introduces "Air Swoopes," the first basketball shoe named after a female basketball player, Sheryl Swoopes.

1994: The NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament adds 16 teams to make a total of 64.

1996: The ABL and the WNBA are established .

1999: The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame opens in Knoxville, Tennessee.

2000: Michelle Snow, a player for the University of Tennessee, became the third woman to dunk in a college game but the first broadcast on television.

2002: McDonald's selects the best female high school basketball players in the country for the first female McDonald's All American High School Basketball Team.

2006: Pat Summitt gets her 900th career win, the first time this has happened for any coach.

Levels of Competition

High School

College

Women's college basketball remains very popular throughout North America, with the sport being sponsored by all of the major college athletic associations: the NCAA, the NAIA, the NJCAA, the NCCAA and the CIS.

Division I of the NCAA is considered the highest level of college competition, with the winner of the annual NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship game declared 'national champion.'

The current (2007-08) national champion is the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers.

American Professional Leagues

Women's Pro Basketball League

The Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL) was a professional women's basketball league in the United States. The league played three seasons from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1981. The league is generally considered to be the first American professional women's basketball league to be founded.

American Basketball League

The American Basketball League was founded in 1996 during an increase in the interest in the sport following the 1996 Summer Olympics. The league played two full season (1996-97 and 1997-98) and started a third (1998-99) before it folded on December 22, 1998.

WNBA

The Women's National Basketball Association or WNBA is an organization governing a professional basketball league for women in the United States. The WNBA was formed in 1996 as the women's counterpart to the National Basketball Association, and league play began in 1997. The regular WNBA season is May to August (North American Spring and Summer). Most WNBA teams play at the same venue as their NBA counterparts. Most team names are also very similar to those of NBA teams in the same market, such as the Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx.

Officially approved by the NBA Board of Governors on April 24, 1996, the creation of the WNBA was first announced at a press conference with Rebecca Lobo, Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoopes in attendance. While not the first major women's professional basketball league in the United States (a distinction held by the defunct WBL), the WNBA is the only league to receive full backing of the NBA.

On the heels of a much-publicized gold medal run by the 1996 USA Basketball Women's National Team at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the WNBA began its first season on June 21, 1997 to much fanfare. The league began with eight teams. The first WNBA game featured the New York Liberty facing the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles and was televised nationally, in the United States, on the NBC television network. At the start of the 1997 season, the WNBA had television deals in place with NBC, ESPN and Lifetime Television Network. Penny Toler was the first woman to score a point in the league.

The league is divided into two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, of 7 teams each. Each team plays a 34-game regular season schedule, beginning in May and ending in late August. Every team plays four teams in their conference 3 times each and play the remaining 2 teams 4 times apiece (20 games). Then they each play teams from the opposite conference twice (14 games), once on each team's home court. The four teams in each conference with the best Win/Loss records go on to compete in the WNBA Playoffs during September with the WNBA Finals following later in the month.

An All-Star Game is typically held in the middle of July, while regular play stops temporarily for it. In Olympic years, there is no all-star game, but a break of about five weeks in the middle of the WNBA season allows players to participate in the Olympic games as members of their national teams.

By the 2000 season, the WNBA doubled in size. Two more teams were added in 1998, another two in 1999 and four more in 2000. Teams and the league were collectively owned by the NBA until 2002, when the NBA sold WNBA teams either to their NBA counterparts in the same city or to a third party. This led to two teams moving and two teams folding before the 2003 season began. In December 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats organization announced it would no longer operate the Charlotte Sting. Soon after, the WNBA announced that the Charlotte Sting would not operate for the upcoming season.

There have been a total of 18 teams in WNBA history. A total of 4 teams have folded: the Cleveland Rockers, the Miami Sol, the Charlotte Sting and the Portland Fire. Two other teams, the Utah Starzz and the Orlando Miracle moved, to San Antonio (Silver Stars) and Uncasville, Connecticut (Sun) respectively.

In 2002, the WNBA Players Association threatened to strike the next season if a new deal was not worked out between players and the league. The result was a delay in the start of the 2003 preseason. In the off-season, a set of rule changes was approved that made the WNBA more like the NBA. Rules are governed by standard basketball rules as defined by the NBA, with a few notable exceptions (see below). The rule changes signaled a move away from rules more similar to those of college basketball and toward those that provide a more NBA-like game.

International basketball

Though it was originally an American sport, it quickly spread internationally and outstanding players and teams are found today all over the world. Women's basketball leagues now exist in most countries around the world including Australia, Asia, South America, and Europe

Olympics

Women's basketball has been contested in the Summer Olympics since 1976. The Olympic gold medalists for women's basketball are:

  • 1976 - USSR
  • 1980 - USSR
  • 1984 - USA
  • 1988 - USA
  • 1992 - Unified Team
  • 1996 - USA
  • 2000 - USA
  • 2004 - USA
  • 2008 - USA

Additional International Competitions

In addition to the Olympics and FIBA World Championship for Women, women's basketball is also contested in the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games. Women's basketball made its first appearance at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Basketball (for both men and women) is one of the sports that the host nation of the Island Games may select for competition.

Women also compete in wheelchair basketball in the Paralympic Games.

Non-American Professional Leagues

Women's English Basketball League

The Women's English Basketball League has grown steadily over recent years, and has now reached a level of thirty national league sides. The league is split into two levels. Division 1 is as close to professional as women's sport gets in the United Kingdom, with teams such as Rhonnda Rebels and Sheffield Hatters bringing in players from the USA and Europe. The Nottingham Wildcats make up the trio of clubs that helped establish the women's league and remain amongst the top three or four places. The gap between these top teams and the rest of the league has remained, but gradually as the women's game has developed, the gulf in results has been reduced, and each year there have been more competitive games.

Promotion from Division 2 has always re-enforced the gap between the two leagues, as the winner of the Division 2 promotion play-offs has found the step-up difficult. The Division 2 play-offs take the top four teams from the North and South of the Second Divisions, with the top playing the bottom of the other pool. This year (2006/7) saw several new teams join the second division, showing the continual growth of the women's game. These included the SevenOaks Suns, Enfield Phoenix, Taunton Tigers and Bristol Storm

Women's National Basketball League

The Women's National Basketball League was founded in 1981 as a way for the best women's basketball teams in the various Australian States to compete against each other on a regular basis. Today the WNBL is the premiere women's basketball league in Australia.

The Kay Yow Foundation

Kay Yow, now 65, is in her 33rd season as the head coach of North Carolina State University women’s basketball team despite her battles with Stage 4 breast cancer (Bernstein, 2007). The cancer has now spread to her liver and spine. None of this has stopped her passion for basketball and devotion to her team. All of this passion currently showing her true fight for life. Her spirit inspired the collaboration of a children’s book titled, “I Will, Not Just I’ll Try; A Story About Never Giving Up” (Bernstein, 2007) which came out in November 2007. A portion of the earnings from the book went to the “Kay Yow/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Cancer Fund created by the V Foundation for Cancer Research, named for Jim Valvano” (Bernstein, New York Times, 2007). This was not only recognized by Yow’s players and NC State, but also from her fellow coaches. Two to mention are Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma. Despite their competitive natures, they pushed basketball to the side and respect to the front. They taped a “public service announcement together on behalf of the fund” (Bernstein, New York Times, 2007). Another sign of respect to Kay Yow came in the 2007-2008 season where a number of teams wore pink uniforms instead of their traditional school colors to show their support and appreciation for Kay Yow. Of course, NC State was one of those teams. Along with this, schools charging admission to the game sent a portion if not all of the proceeds to Kay Yow’s Cancer Fund. This story has truly shown the union of women’s basketball and the rising of respect.

Rules and equipment

The modern rules for women's basketball become more similar to men's each year (though many women have used the same rules as men from the beginning). Today women's basketball is played with the same rules as men with only a few exceptions, mainly a slightly smaller ball.

Basketball size

The regulation WNBA ball is a minimum 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) in circumference, 1.00 inch (2.54 cm) smaller than the NBA ball. As of 2004, this size is used for all senior-level women's competitions worldwide.

Court dimensions

The standard court size is 94 feet long by 50 feet wide. The three-point line is 20 feet and 6.25 inches (6.25 m) from the middle of the basket in WNBA and FIBA competition. Also, there is no block/charge arc under the basket.

Shot clock

The WNBA shot clock was recently changed from 30 to 24 seconds. Women's NCAA college basketball uses a 30 second shot clock.

Game clock

Most high school and college games are played in two 20-minute halves, while WNBA and FIBA games are played in four 10-minute quarters.

References

See also

External links

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