The WNBA has officially announced that it will start marketing specifically to the LGBT community, the first professional sports league to recruit directly to that community, The Associated Press reports.
The league launched a website Wednesday that will work with advocacy groups, promote pride festivals and parades, and work specifically with lesbian media outlets.
There will be a nationally televised “Pride Game” near the end of June.
“For us it’s a celebration of diversity and inclusion and recognition of an audience that has been with us very passionately,” WNBA President Laurel Richie said. “This is one of those moments in the ‘W’ where everybody comes together.”
Robert Boland, academic chair of the sports management program at NYU’s Tisch Center explained, “Sports has a natural hesitance to embrace highly controversial issues. I think we’ve lived through a period where sport was nonpolitical. We’re in a different era now. This is a group where there is a natural affinity and marketing affinity. It’s a recognition of where the world is today. I’d be shocked if there was any backlash.”
WNBA players were some of the first professional athletes to come out as gay. The league already knows that 25 percent of lesbians regularly watch games, and 21 percent have attended a game.