Factors Influencing the Geography of US National Women's Basketball League

Factors Influencing the Geography of the US National Basketball Team (WNBA)

This case study purposely places the spotlight on female professional sport and provides a number of detailed resources and activities that help students examine the geographical issues that influence and impact the location of teams and the WNBA's fan base. The lesson deals with the business politics of sport franchises, gender bias in media coverage as well as the gender pay gap and the factors leading to the 'brawn drain' of American female basketball players. It also examines the demographics of both the players and fans and the challenges of increasing its popularity in a male dominated industry.

Enquiry Question

What factors influence the geography of the WNBA?

Lesson Time: 1 Hour

Lesson Objectives:

  • To examine the factors affecting the geography of the WNBA, including the location of its hierarchy of teams and the distribution of supporters

Teacher Notes:

Teacher notes to follow

Starter Activity -  The US National Basketball League - Processes

Can you name the US national basketball league?

Did you say the NBA- The National Basketball Association

What about the WNBA?  - The Women's National Basketball Association

Why do you think this is the case?

Student Activity - Map of the National Basketball Associations - Patterns, Processes and Places

Study the following maps and comment on the patterns shown.

What surprises you most?

Student Activity - What is a Sports League Franchise - Processes and Places

Watch the following video from up to 1.12 which explains how the NBA operates as a Sports Franchise League

the WNBA is operated in the same way and partly subsidized by the NBA

"Sports franchise" means the contractual right granted to any person or persons to own or operate a sports team in a specified location.    State of Virginia

Student Activity - Factors Influencing the Number and Location of Franchises - Processes and Places

Read the following adapted article and identify the factors that influence the number and location of franchises in the WNBA

WNBA Franchises

Student Activity - Comparing the Status of WNBA with NBA - Processes and Places

Study the following table and comment on the key differences between WNBA and NBA?

What factors do you think explains these differences? Consider social, economic and political factors

Read the following news report that explains how the league scores so high in the Racial and Gender Report Card

Note down the reasons why the WNBA scores so highly.

Student Activity - The WNBA Wage Gap - Processes and Places

Watch the following video on the wage gap in the US

Identify the problems that lead to the wage gap in the US game.

Student Activity - The WNBA 'Brawn Drain' - Processes and Places

Study the following  flow line map showing the WNBA out migration to international leagues

Read the following Guardian Article, There's no break, which refers to how two thirds of the WNBA players played abroad for a second club through the winter

Student Activity - The WNBA Fan Appeal - Processes and Places

Watch the following promotional video from the WNBA Who are they appealing to and why?

Read the following quotes by Adam Silver of the NBA on some of the challenges of the WNBA. Discuss each one.

Student Activity - Challenges and Geography of the Fan Base - Processes and Places

Study the following photograph, which shows a typical WNBA attendance. Describe its demographic

Conduct a quick search of WNBA fans to see if this photographic is representative of the fan demographic

Study the gallery of graphs and for each graph write a short summary of what it shows. Add data to each short sentence

Use the following resource as a cut, allocate one perspective to each student.

Read the card of information and summarize the issue raised regarding the WNBA fan base.

Perspectives on the fans

All materials on this website are for the exclusive use of teachers and students at subscribing schools for the period of their subscription. Any unauthorised copying or posting of materials on other websites is an infringement of our copyright and could result in your account being blocked and legal action being taken against you.