As I watched the NBA semi-finals play out, I was amused, and then horrified at the commercials for the new Wnba or – in other words – The WOMEN’S National Basketball Association. Allow me a moment to vent my view before I get to the meaty core of the horror: In the spirit of the LPGA and Women’s Tennis, basketball will now rock with segregated competition where “separate” does not yet mean or intend to be “equal.” What’s next? The Wnfl and Wmlb? C’mon! If the sexes are truly equal – then don’t segregate women into a lesser league because they “can’t compete” or aren’t allowed to play with the “big boys.” Isn’t it our responsibility as role models (and we all are in everything we do no matter what Charles Barkley tries to tell us) to show that the sexes can get along in life AND on the basketball court? I don’t buy it that women aren’t good enough to play in the “men’s league” and I don’t think they should be stuck in a lesser league of their own, either.

We Got Next!
We Got Next! is the new slogan for the Wnba that really has me reeling because it is so degrading and paternal and nasty in its disgrace of the women in the league and the English language as well! Here’s an actual banner ad I found on the Wnba website:

We Got Next! is not proper English. What is the Wnba trying to say about itself by employing that slogan? Are they trying to say that the women players and the league itself are uneducated? Is this a stab at bringing some Black female players to the masses via an Ebonics-like sloganism? Are we to think the Wnba represents some sort of “street ball” instead of the Pro game we’re used to watching with the men in the NBA?

Racist?
Am I a racist bringing up these issues? My informal research in the streets of New York says no — for those issues are the very images such a slogan inspires! Are the creators of the We Got Next! campaign playing the Race Card for some kind of fanatic gain? It makes one wonder.

This “We Got Next!” slogan isn’t lowest common denominator leering at the unintelligent, it’s a nasty put-down of the Wnba before they even take the court on June 21 for the first game. How could it be anything else? It certainly isn’t a fun slogan. It certainly doesn’t add sheen or excitement to the Wnba. What is the logic behind such a slogan? Here’s the official word from a Wnba Press Release:

The Official Wnba Press Release…

WNBA Theme: “We Got Next”
All 29 NBA teams will support the WNBA theme

New York, March 6, 1997

. . . . “The ‘We Got Next’ campaign illustrates the commitment that the NBA, its teams and our media partners are bringing to the launch of the WNBA,” said WNBA President Val Ackerman.

New York-based agency Fallon McElligott Berlin, in conjunction with NBA Properties, developed the “We Got Next” campaign. The print and radio executions were produced by Fallon McElligott Berlin; the television spots were produced by NBA Entertainment.” . . . .

Influence Peddlers
The We Got Next slogan appeared throughout the nationally televised NBA playoffs and print ads ran in several major magazines. There’s just no getting around the fact that the Wnba, like any other team sport, wants to lure young children into its folds so it can get fans early and keep them for decades. One cannot escape, however, the delicate irony in the lure of using bad English (and a bad PR self-image for the Wnba) and its negative effect on the children and the parent’s perception of the worthiness of allowing their kids to participate in and root for just such a league!
Role Models
I find that Press Release laughable and damnable! How dare they try to use such a demeaning slogan to the Wnba and anyone who would, for a moment, consider becoming a fan of the new league. No matter what the Wnba claims, their greatest effort in getting fan support is to provide excellent competition on the court and for their players to be role models for young fans and that slogan slays any and all attempts at bringing inspiration, leadership and joy to the Wnba.

The National Football League’s slogan for 1996 was pretty clean and clear: Feel The Power!. That slogan may not inspire good study habits or dreams of a higher morality, but at least it is proper English, it sets a tone and an expectation that one can support as a parent and role model.

Major League Baseball’s motto for 1997 is “What a Game!” Sure it’s a boring slogan, but it is clean, proper English and it does not harm in being.

The NBA
The NBA is the paternal predecessor of the Wnba and yet the NBA’s slogan rises up to inspire fandom and role modeling. The NBA’s slogan even holds a lovely lesson for children looking to the NBA for inspiration and proper English.

I Love This Stuff! is a super slogan! It’s warm and inspiring and it is proper English and I Love This Stuff! has a double play on words: “Stuff” can be a noun as in “the aura surrounding the game of basketball” or it can be a verb as in “Malone stuffed the ball down Barkley’s throat!”

Children and parents can enjoy the game and the slogan together (while also sharing a short lesson in capitalizing word “I” or the first word in a sentence). It’s important that we demand, as consumers, parents and children, to be spoken to and approached on a level on which we can be inspired on to greater things. We Got Next! is no such inspiration. We should be led to greater heights, not pulled down to the level of a street slang for some short term defeatist-thrill effect.

Sloganism Defeats Substance
The Wnba, I’m sure, will be a league of talented women who will play great basketball. Their message will be heard across the land no matter what their slogan presently conveys. Unfortunately, the Wnba’s present Messenger cheapens their historic niche in sport by demeaning the very spirit and vitality that their league was founded upon and for that, we must protest loudly. We deserve better treatment as fans even if the Wnba Sloganeers don’t think so.

This ill-conceived We Got Next! Ad Slogan shouldn’t deter any of us from becoming fans of the Wnba. We must instead look past the shortsighted slogan and not blame the Message (the Wnba players), yet we must, and shall, blame the Messenger (the fool who thought up that awful slogan!).