No sports fan can walk into KeyArena for a Seattle Storm game and ignore the fact that the atmosphere is markedly different than that of any other professional sporting experience.
Not just the big red furry mascot running around during stoppages in play, but the kid-friendly activities -- most clearly represented by the late game train dance on the court with Doppleer -- and the fact that there are so many young girls there.
As Chris Daniels of King 5 Sports describes in his brief segment from last night's game (above), if the WNBA has any cultural impact on the Seattle community, it's for those young female sports fans.
Seattle Storm brings out young fans | KING5.com | Seattle Sports News and Information
"I am just really happy to have this opportunity to give them a role model to look at, to give them people to aspire to and people to be proud of," said Trudeau.
Trudeau says now, with local ownership, the franchise is secure in Seattle. More than a year ago, the franchise signed a 10-year-lease to play its games at KeyArena.
We can debate whether the role model theme will ever effectively sell tickets for the WNBA. But it is unique among professional sports leagues in that it's hard to make a case that it's just about basketball: while some will appreciate the game strictly as a different type of basketball, it's impossible to deny that the longest running women's sports league doesn't mean a little extra for young female sports fans.
Why "Money Isn't Everything": How the WNBA Represents an Opportunity to "Release the Imagination" - Swish Appeal
...the value of the WNBA is not just in inspiring female basketball players or even female athletes more broadly. What it represents is a small departure from a world in which women were once told there were things they cannot do. It lets them know that there is something beyond what some people still espouse as common sense about women’s limitations.
It's hard not to watch those videos -- or be at a game for that matter -- and not acknowledge that a Storm championship will mean a lot more value to the city than the hardware that comes with it.