Ari Chambers, Founder of Bleacher Report’s women’s sports platform HighlightHER, was at the center of WNBA Twitter before it became WNBA Twitter.
The growing popularity of league news, updates and highlights on social media, Chambers says, speaks to the organic enthusiasm so many fans have for the game.
“I just think that we are such a strong community because we are so passionate,” Chambers tells Dawn Staley on the latest episode of NETLIFE. “There was no incentive before to support. We support because we really love women’s basketball.”
Chambers remembers a time when WNBA games were nearly impossible to find, and yet supporters were eager to congregate online.
“When you have genuine passion without incentive, you’re going to stick with it,” Chambers says.
While the WNBA online community is aligned in their love for basketball, debate is also a critical fixture of the league’s social media following.
“There are so many varying points across WNBA Twitter, so many different types of people,” Chambers says. “Any attention that is drawn to the game is great attention, and anything that is provocative really sparks discussion.”
As the WNBA Twitter space has grown, so has the presence of trolls, many of whom are misogynistic in nature. Staley says she embraces some of the negative comments, knowing that women’s athletes often make trolls pay attention and take time out of their day to “say what they need to say.”
Chambers agrees, but is hopeful that the haters will die out with the next generation of athletes.
“Because there are platforms like HighlightHER, Just Women’s Sports, WSLAM, Overtime, they’re showing the talents,” Chambers says. “So what has happened with the next generation coming in, they’re seeing basketball as basketball.”
Her advice to women’s athletes navigating the online environment is to control their own narrative and utilize the tools social media has afforded public figures.
“These stories, they can be yours,” Chambers says. “You can own your own story, and you can present it how you want to present it.”
Listen to the full conversation between Chambers and Staley on NETLIFE.