posted 03/29/14 at 3:44am
on Looking ahead to the Sweet 16
posted by Swish Appeal
Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 8:53pm EDT
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On the topic of sex appeal and attractiveness...
On this site, we focus on the game first and foremost, so it's not always easy to delve into non-basketball topics, in particular women's athletes' sex appeal to men.
At least when it comes to this year's "Big Three" Draft picks, some believe that Skylar is not worthy of that status, some because of basketball reasons such as "Skylar's not 6'5" with her skills like Delle Donne" or "Skylar can't dunk like Griner." Some people even believe that her looks, which often get her attention for non-basketball reasons, are a big reason, if not the main reason why Skylar is considered a "Big Three" pick for 2013.
This past Thursday, we linked a piece on our facebook page to a piece on colorlines.com regarding Diggins' social media popularity and her sex appeal. Now let's see how it affects her, the team she's on, and also the WNBA as a whole now that she's in the pros.
Revisiting Skylar's looks and her impact on the basketball court from 2011...
I've been a regular on this site for a couple years here now, and I'm going through all the archives here. It just so happens that my very first piece of writing here was two years ago and it focused on Diggins and her sex appeal soon after the end of her sophomore year in college. For your reading, link is below.
From reading that piece now for the first time since 2011 pretty much, I don't think my views on sex appeal and its impact on women's basketball have changed much, if at all. If you don't know what it is, I'll quote myself from the FanPost:
As a man, I'll admit that sex appeal does make me pay attention to some players on a team more than others initially, but at the end of the day, I'd rather see that player and her team play at a high level night-in and night-out.
Looking back on the piece back in 2011, if Skylar Diggins was a sophomore today and just started becoming a big-time college athlete I would have written something really similar to what I did two years ago. Without rehashing everything from that piece, here are some quick things that happened since then:
All in all, in the two years that have passed by since I first wrote that FanPost, Diggins has let her game do the talking and be the main reason why she ultimately became the Shock's top draft pick this year.
Skylar was part of the Team USA 2011 World University Games team that won gold and was one of the team's major contributors. She was also on the 2012 Team USA 3x3 team that also won gold.
In college since the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Diggins didn't just fade away and become known as a player not unlike Anna Kournikova for tennis who was attractive and a good doubles tennis player with Martina Hingis but ultimately wasn't a perennial top ranked player in the singles game which has more prestige. She was the leading scorer in her junior season and had over a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio and got the Irish back to the championship game in 2012. And this past season after losing Natalie Novosel and Kayla McBride to the pros, Diggins led a younger roster which included Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa, two players who are pro prospects in their own right back to the Final Four where she was the leading scorer and had over 100 steals for the second straight season.
This has culiminated in Diggins winning the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the best point guard in women's college basketball three times, making her one of three players to win it multiple times (Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are the other point guards to do so), and she's matched Bird by winning it THREE times! In addition, she is a multi time All American, and would have likely won some national awards if not for Brittney Griner the last couple years.
If that doesn't back her game up and isn't justification as to why she can't be an impact player in the WNBA besides "looks," well, I don't know what does.
How all this ties with the Tulsa Shock and the WNBA
As a professional basketball player, Skylar is going to face challenges because she's going to a Tulsa Shock franchise that is still rebuilding from the time the franchise relocated from Detroit in the 2009-2010 offseason. While we have certainly been feeling optimistic about the Shock from their promising 2012 season, here are some things where I think she will make an impact on the team and/or the league:
And that last point about Diggins talking about availability is something that's really important. With most WNBA stars, including A list stars for the league, they're playing overseas during the NBA season, and that ends up negating much of the availability that they may have during the summer. Sure Diggins may be give the WNBA a boost this summer (sorry for using puns Boost Mobile), but once the NBA season starts, it's not like Skylar is playing winter ball here again. If she's not visible for the WNBA during that time, here in the US, then her starpower will fade because of European play, if that is what she chooses to do. If she does something else like broadcasting (like Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson), then it could help keep her in the spotlight in some form during the NBA season.
Skylar Diggins comes to the Tulsa Shock as a great basketball player who may be that key missing piece to lead the black and gold to being a perennial contender in the WNBA's Western Conference. In addition she is also a media friendly personality. To me as a Washington, DC area native, Skylar may very well be the Robert Griffin III for the Tulsa Shock, and be "the total package", taking a page from the former Baylor and now Washington Redskins star who is making a big impact on his team and the NFL both as a player and as a media friendly personality.
Unlike RGIII however, Diggins doesn't play in a "Big Four" league, and the WNBA is trying to get out of the novelty phase despite deciding to remain the NBA's summer basketball fix league for the time being. Though Diggins has consistently been a notable women's athlete presence in college, if she plays in Europe this offseason, would that dampen the outreach she could have for the WNBA? It's great that she is a visible presence on Twitter especially, but also being on TV and being in the US, especially when it comes to the WNBA is important as well in order to keep her presence known throughout the year, not just for the summer.
Skylar is also an attractive woman to many, if not most men, even me as part of the sports-hungry straight male demographic that the WNBA wants to attract more of. And yes, attractiveness is also in the eyes of the beholder and this poetic masterpiece by slam poet Katie Makkai certainly comes into mind:
After watching this several times, I really try not to get too deep into metaphors, etc. but it is important to note that the biggest takeaway I got from it was that women shouldn't try to just be merely "pretty" and that it should be merely an afterthought. (go to around the 3:25 mark) So how do I tie all this back to the Shock's franchise player?
Whether you like it or not, and whether it's intentional or not, Skylar's sex appeal is also a tool for her to attract fans, and it has helped her to some degree, likely her presence on social media. Going back to the first video of her interview with Kate Sullivan, Skylar noted that she credits her physical attributes to her mother and focuses more on the game of basketball which is something she can control, rather than aspects she can't control, which include fitting the norms of being "pretty" which Makkai talks about in her video. And that is definitely a good thing.
Seeing that more men may take interest in the Tulsa Shock and/or the WNBA as a whole in part because of Skylar Diggins' sex appeal is also not a bad thing in and of itself. But they also have appreciate her play as well, and hopefully they appreciate that more over the long term.
At the end of the day, I look forward to seeing Skylar Diggins as a basketball player first, and how she will help this Tulsa Shock franchise continue getting toward its goal of being a perennial Western Conference power. Everything else to me is just a plus.
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