Women Hoop Too - A Movement For WNBA Players And Fans

Gwendolyn Loyd discusses the growing grassroots effort to shed a positive light on women's hoops.

If you've been following the WNBA closely this season - especially via social media - you've probably seen fans posing with signs petitioning others to back the league. "I support a salary increase for WNBA players" and "Support the WNBA; Bring a friend!" the signs say, and they've been spotted everywhere from Seattle and Chicago to down south in Dallas.

It's all part of a movement started by the family of Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd. The movement - dubbed "Women Hoop Too" by its founders - has been gaining steam since its inception at the start of the season, thanks to an active social media presence (its Twitter handle @womenhooptoo emphasizes what WNBA players are like on and off the court, ranging from their personalities to their fashion styles) and a warm reception from the tightly-knit women's basketball community.

One of the leaders of Women Hoop Too is Loyd's mother, Gwendolyn. She was nice enough to answer a few questions about the movement and explain how current WNBA fans can contribute to its efforts.

First of all, explain to us what Women Hoop Too is. What is your primary goal and how do you want to accomplish it?

The Women Too Movement’s (WHTM) role is to aggressively create mini-campaigns and activities throughout the year that would do the following:

1) Create awareness of the WNBA and its players
2) Gain fan commitment
3) Help to build relationships between the players and the fans
4) Educate both men and women about the merits of the WNBA
5) Bring to light the community service and engagement the ladies do in their communities
6) Eradicate the myths about WNBA players

We believe that “positioning” WNBA players across the country would help shape the narrative about the athletes and the excitement of watching the games. More importantly, the mindset of those who have never experienced sitting in the seat to watch the most perfectly “fundamental” basketball implemented with the greatest athleticism ever!

Help “would-be” male fans understand that female ballplayers are not trying to be male ballplayers – they are who they are – great athletes who love the game and they play it with precision and passion.

We are not opposed to the NBA; rather, our aim is to serve as a grassroots constituent to the NBA in support of the WNBA. We do believe that we should support and work with the NBA, but also hold them accountable for a broad-based effort to make the public aware of who the WNBA players are. We believe they can accomplish this in a myriad of ways including but not limited to:

1) Conducting an aggressive Marketing and Public Relations Campaign
2) Creating a viable visible partnership between the NBA and WNBA players
3) Connect their brands and network to the WNBA players and not just rely on agents to do it for them
4) Continue visibility of players during their off-season in order to massage the casual fan but also to sustain the WNBA current fan-base

So how did this whole thing get started? Did it come to mind just recently, or it is something that's been in the works for a while?

For the last two years, we have been monitoring fan support in terms of the imprints in arenas across the country. We also had discussions about the disparity of salaries for WNBA players to the NBA players. We had a discussion about this at length with people who are in the industry and to understand not only the infrastructure but the politics of the business as well.

We decided it would take a long-term grassroots effort to create awareness, and to get the stadiums packed. We understand that generating revenue would be pivotal to the players getting an increase in salary, but we also understood it was like the "chicken before the egg or the egg before the chicken." We believe the NBA has a critical role in changing mindsets of the public especially the casual fan and particularly uninformed would-be male prospective fans.

Your sister Montie has been bringing signs to Sky games, which has spread to other cities. Tell us a little more about that.

Montie is seasoned when it comes to understanding business. She has a unique background, and that background is proving to be invaluable to our movement. Having been in public relations for years, she felt the first step would be getting signs in the different arenas across the country. Those signs would give the fans an “ah ha” moment. When we first took the signs the responses to the signs were unbelievable. The fans would shake our hands and give us words of encouragement. When the players come out for the shootaround, they see the signs and give us thumbs up – some make statements to us – others come over and thank us for supporting them. We knew that we were on to something. We knew it was a good first step.

Have you gotten feedback from any of the players yet? How about their parents? What's the league reception been like?

We have gotten positive feedback from the ladies. We already see that many of them are starting to speak out about the salary issue. We are still trying to bring more parents into the movement. We realize that may not come into fruition until the season is over (the full level support of parents) because the moms are often traveling with the ladies or helping them to prepare for overseas once the season is over. We want them to come aboard, as there is no force like a mother's voice when something impacts her child. We wanted to take the elephant off the table, or the fear factor that we are working "against the NBA." In lieu, we are working to “support” them through awareness and getting bodies in the seats. We have had coaches give us thumbs up and calls asking what they can do to help.

We have not gotten any communications at all from the league and we hope to hear from them because we are in support of the WNBA not against them.

What's in store for the near future? What's your next step?

The Women Hoop Too Movement, in our first meeting, derived a “Seven Point Plan of Action” for annual grassroots mobilization with a purpose of garnering support and awareness. Throughout the year the public will be exposed to the activities, positions, and awareness of the movement, as well as the WNBA in all “A” markets and markets where WNBA Teams exist.

We will be sending out media notices about that Seven Point Plan before the season is over because we realize the interests die soon after the season ends.

Finally, I suppose the most important question I have is: how can we help? What can fans do to support the Women Hoop Too movement?

We want media to keep the WNBA and the movement in the news. We need you to publicize what the ladies are doing off-season and follow our ladies to other countries to chronicle what they are doing.

Montie has always alluded to the fact that if our media would take a trip to a country where our ladies play and shadow them, they will return informed with a better perspective and appreciation of who these ladies are and what they do offseason. It is astounding under sometimes some of the most unorthodox environments. There are stories there and we want the media to find them and make the public aware. This would help the WNBA fans create that “relational” factor needed to build and sustain a fanbase during the offseason.

We would also like for you to cover the progress of the Women Hoop Movement as we commence our efforts on a grassroots level. Cover the activities and events we are planning in each city.

We need you to continue to get our story out there, as we believe our story is the story of the WNBA.

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