A word, Kristina, about discrimination in Australian basketball
Kristina Keneally with Lauren Jackson and Carrie Graf in 2012. Photo: Jay Cronan
Dear Basketball Australia chief executive Kristina Keneally,
I thought I'd write you a letter, just to clear the air.
I know you've just returned from visiting family overseas, but I'm sure you've read of the grievances of some of the WNBL's most respected figures printed in this paper the past week.
When two players, Jess Bibby and Kristi Harrower, with a combined 39 years experience in the league, decide to speak out, it's clear some things need to be addressed.
And when fellow players use social media to back them to the hilt, it's obvious the natives are restless.
This shouldn't be dismissed as Bibby and Harrower having a whinge. Bibby's comments merely broke the dam wall, highlighting the level of discontent among players, which has been bubbling under the surface for some time.
She was the one with enough courage to voice her views, when many were hesitant or afraid to do so.
She chose to express her belief that Basketball Australia prioritises the NBL over the WNBL.
She chose to say: ''It just goes to show the care factor really isn't there, they [Basketball Australia] are not interested in getting this league to the best it possibly can be.''
She revealed NBL players get Virgin lounge privileges, while WNBL players do not.
Harrower is also perfectly positioned to comment on the situation. She's been an Opals regular for almost two decades, works in sponsorship with her WNBL club, Bendigo Spirit, and was the league's general manager for four years.
When she says, ''I've been to [WNBL] meetings and nothing's changed'', yourself and Basketball Australia should sit up and take notice. Harrower went on to say: ''Sometimes I feel BA won't make the changes because they know we will play for our country because we love to do it.''
Translation: ''We wouldn't boycott playing for the Opals in a million years, but do we have to finish seventh or eighth at an Olympics before more money is injected into women's basketball?''
She revealed Basketball Australia rejected the Opals' request to be given six business class tickets to travel to the 2008 Olympics, despite the entire men's side flying business class.
That is inexcusable. It should be pointed out the Opals have won medals at the past five Olympics, while the men's trophy cabinet is bare.
Kristina, I'd like to direct you to a column posted on world governing body FIBA's website on Saturday.
It tries to justify the fact Basketball Australia allocates more than four times more funding to the NBL than the WNBL because ''the NBL has attracted a naming rights sponsor, the WNBL has not. The NBL has attracted a commercial television deal, the WNBL has not''.
Obviously it's much easier for the NBL to attract these things when it has FOUR times as much money to throw around.
I'd love to have a chat, Kristina. The deafening silence from Basketball Australia is frustrating the players further.