WNBA draft moments: Sports leagues should keep drafting from living rooms after the pandemic

Jason Owens
·3-min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced drastic lifestyle changes on everyone, most of which we'll happily toss to the wayside when we're on the other side of this thing.

It's also inspired some some changes worth keeping. Like working from home. Some businesses and employees afforded the luxury of working from home these last 12-plus months have discovered that this actually works better for almost everyone involved.

In sports, fans, teams and players will all be better off once stadiums are full again. Nobody, of course, will miss checking lineups and injury reports for COVID-19 scratches. 

Draft night from home is more fun

But on draft night? Sports leagues and networks have learned to do it better. Forced to improvise, networks put cameras in living rooms to capture the life-changing moments when athletes realize their dreams of turning pro. 

And that makes for a better show than watching players stand up from a ballroom table and walk across a stage. It was true during last April's WNBA and NFL drafts. Instead of the cluster so many predicted, the improvised format made for compelling television with glimpses we otherwise wouldn't get into players' lives. 

The official Spalding basketball used for the WNBA Western Conference basketball game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Charlotte Sting on 21st July 1997 at the Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States.  (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)
The WNBA draft — like other leagues' — is more fun from home. (Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)

Highlights from Thursday's WNBA draft

It was true again on Thursday as the WNBA conducted its second pandemic draft. Like last year, the traditional in-person format had to be scrapped. And players and their families were happy to celebrate from the comfort of their living rooms — which was a benefit to everyone watching from home. 

Take Atlanta Dream No. 3 pick Aari McDonald, for instance. There's no chance she would have brought this elaborate and charming explanation of how to pronounce her name to a ballroom. That's a made-from-home moment.

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We likely wouldn't have met the fashion and dance stylings of No. 6 pick (New York Liberty) Michaela Onyenwere's grandmother. 

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Nor would we have had the chance to laugh with Rennia Davis (No. 9 pick, Minnesota Lynx) as she reveled in her own highlight reel on a living-room TV while completely ignoring ESPN's Holly Rowe. 

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And speaking of Rowe, there's a good chance we wouldn't have learned about her French skills were it not for the in-home family interview of France's Iliana Rupert (No. 12 pick, Las Vegas Aces).

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Thursday's draft also provided this virtual introduction between Indiana Fever staff and No. 4 pick Kysre Gondrezick.

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What are we missing out on from traditional draft formats? The player-commissioner handshake is the biggest casualty. In the NFL, fans don't have the chance to lustily boo commissioner Roger Goodell in person. The wins easily outweigh the losses.

What will NFL draft look like in 2 weeks?

When the NFL conducts its draft in two weeks, it's planning on a hybrid of the two formats with some prospects showing up in person on a Cleveland stage. Others will make their professional debuts in front of cameras placed in their homes. 

Here's guessing the made-from-home moments make for the best television. 

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