Does sexual orientation affect women’s basketball career


The sport of basketball is played by both genders, and women’s game has a long and illustrious history that stretches all the way back to the 19th century. Here is an overview of the women’s basketball timeline and an explanation of some of the most prevalent sports trends.

Is orientation really important?

There is a stereotype that female basketball players are mostly lesbians, but that’s not really true for a majority of those who regularly play this sport. At the very least, any connection between sexual orientation and success at basketball is coincidental, and many heterosexual women have played the sport with amazing proficiency. On the other hand, it’s not rare for female basketball players of any age to hang out on or even openly date other women. Professional basketball teams are very tolerant of such behavior, providing a chance to challenge the traditional norms.

The earliest mention of women’s basketball

Women started playing basketball very shortly after it was invented. The first mention of the game being played by girls was from 1892 when Senda Berenson taught her students at Smith College in the United States to play a rudimentary version of a game with hoops. Since no team sports were played by women at that time, this was a historical moment for female athletics in general, not only basketball. The game soon became popular among college students, with the first match between two universities taking place in 1896. However, in this period, it was believed that women shouldn’t play competitively, and basketball was seen more as a form of exercise than a popular sport we know today.

Rules and equipment

The rules of women’s basketball are very similar to those used in the men’s game. Five players compete for each team on a rectangular court with hoops on either end. The offensive team controls the ball, which can be advanced by bouncing it off the court or passing it to another player, with the ultimate goal of placing it through the hoop before the designated time for the attack (24 or 30 seconds) expires. A match consists of four quarters lasting 8 or 10 minutes depending on the level of competition, and the team that scores the most points when the final period ends wins. Players can be substituted whenever play is stopped (i.e., after a foul or at the end of a quarter) and can reenter the game at a later time. Basketball equipment includes sneaker shoes, jerseys, shorts, wristbands and headbands, joint suspenders, and a range of training tools or medical devices. 

Women’s basketball spreading around the world

Global popularization of women’s basketball exploded in the 1970s when the sport was added to the Summer Olympics. As a result, many women started practicing basketball from an early age, quickly raising the quality of play in numerous countries. In addition to the American continent, the game became very popular in Europe and Australia, while Asia and Africa are following close behind. Building of basketball courts in small towns and urban neighborhoods coupled with the establishment of national programs created very favorable conditions for the fast growth of the sport. While the men’s game remains far more popular and more dynamic, the female version is very exciting to watch as well. That’s especially true at the highest level, for example, in the North American WNBA league or the Olympic tournament.

Top 5 woman’s basketball players

Many amazing female players in basketball history helped to move the boundaries of the modern game. There is much debate about the best players in history, but all of the women of this list are indisputably among the greatest ever to lace up the sneakers:

Lisa Leslie

Physically imposing at 1.96 cm tall, Leslie had a legendary career that included four Olympic gold medals, two WNBA championships, three WNBA MVP trophies, and a long list of accolades. Her career lasted from the early 1990s to 2009, after which she remained active as a TV presenter, actress, and basketball coach.

Diana Taurasi

Another player with an illustrious career that lasted for a couple of decades, Taurasi started playing professionally in 2004 and is still active. She won big at every level, adding four Olympic gold medals, three FIBA world championships, and three WNBA titles to her resume. 

Sue Bird

Known for her creative play at the point guard position, Bird has been storming the courts worldwide since the early 2000s. She played with success in WNBA as well as the Russian league and has won multiple trophies in all major competitions, including NCAA, Olympic Games, WNBA, and FIBA World Cup.

Sheryl Swoopes

Active from 1997 to 2011, Swoopes was one of the brightest stars in the early days of WNBA and has won four consecutive titles in this league. She also has three Olympic gold medals and has been selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017 in recognition of her contributions to the sport.

Cheryl Miller

Known as the sister of NBA superstar Reggie Miller, Cheryl had an impressive career in her own right, winning two NCAA trophies, Olympic gold, and a World Cup title in the 1980s. Her playing career already ended by the time WNBA was established, but she participated as a coach and remained one of the most revered personalities in woman’s basketball to this day.

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