When the WNBA tips off its 26th season Friday night, fans will have a new way to enjoy the games: ESPN Fantasy Women’s Basketball presented by State Farm, the first season-long, full-scale fantasy game dedicated to a major women’s sport.
Front Row asked Dr. André Snellings, ESPN’s award-winning fantasy basketball writer and analyst, and Shaun McPartin, the game’s lead product manager, for insight.
McPartin: I am so proud of what our team was able to accomplish in building this new game. It’s a real testament to the scalable technology and design of the game platform. ESPN has long been a champion of women’s sports, and we’re excited to continue that lineage. Women’s sports continue to grow in popularity, and providing a full-featured fantasy game to add to that trajectory is exciting.
Snellings: I am so excited and humbled to be a part of the team on this game. Excited because I’m hoping this shines another spotlight on the WNBA. Humbled because the WNBA has been producing a wonderful product for decades. I’ve spent decades analyzing and writing about fantasy sports. To have the opportunity to do the same for the WNBA game is a privilege that I am pumped to be a part of.
The WNBA recently announced a huge capital investment in the league, and viewership of women’s sports is up significantly. What role will ESPN FWBB play in the continued growth of the sport?
Snellings:This is a huge opportunity to bring in new fans who love fantasy sports and to help grow the tent of people who appreciate and enjoy the excellent WNBA experience.
McPartin: When you play fantasy sports, you find yourself glued to your TV or mobile device watching a game you might not watch otherwise just to see how many points someone on your roster will score. The WNBA already has a ton of household names, and the fantasy game can be a platform to further familiarize fans with all the WNBA talent.
McPartin: I am most excited about building off the excitement that is already growing around the game. Also, introducing a whole new fanbase to fantasy sports is exhilarating to me. A lot of people are going to get to experience the thrill of fantasy, and I can’t wait to hear what they think
Snellings: I grew up watching the NBA, so love of basketball was a part of my life from childhood on. But, it wasn’t until I got into playing fantasy men’s basketball that I really started digging deeper and exploring all the nooks, crannies, and details of the game. When I was a child, the WNBA didn’t exist yet, but I remember watching [Basketball Hall Of Famer] Cheryl Miller dominate the college landscape at USC, and I’ve enjoyed watching the rise of the WNBA through the decades. The ESPN Fantasy Women’s Basketball game gives me another opportunity to dig into the numbers. But more than that, I look forward to getting to know the players and hoops culture that produces those numbers. I’m excited to become a true student of the WNBA game.