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Dear Diary: I'm having some problems with the WNBA ...

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published July 01. 2010 4:00AM   Updated July 01. 2010 9:47AM

Dear Diary:

Maybe you can help me sort out this inner conflict. How can you like something so much and still despise it at the same time?

Today's topic, Dear Diary, the WNBA.

I really enjoy the games, Dear Diary. Largely competitive. I really enjoy the players, too. Engaging and accommodating. But the league as a whole, Dear Diary? I can't take it anymore.

Take Tuesday night, for instance.

Connecticut Sun followers, many of whom vented on the team Facebook page, were unable to watch the game via "Live Access," which enables viewers to see the feed over their computers. But there is a rule, apparently, which prohibits viewers from watching on Live Access while a national game is aired. Such was the case Tuesday, Dear Diary. ESPN showed Indiana-Washington at 7. The Sun game at Tulsa began at 8.

What I don't understand, Dear Diary, is that once the Indiana game ended, why the blackout was not lifted. I'm not educated enough, Dear Diary, to follow or care about all the convoluted, esoteric, television blackout rules that govern sports. But, Dear Diary, it seems to me that if you are the WNBA, with limited, regional fan bases, the rules should at least be made clear to the few, the proud, who actually care.

There is an active fan base here in Connecticut, Dear Diary, that really wanted to watch Tuesday's game. They made the effort to watch the game on a desktop or laptop. And they were denied without explanation. Of course, Dear Diary, I'd argue why there's a blackout rule in the first place, given that the masses aren't clamoring to watch any of this stuff. But one crisis at a time is what you always say, Dear Diary.

This comes in addition to Live Access feeds that are lousy in most arenas. Fans on message boards and Facebook pages bemoan how some feeds do not include score boxes and simply regurgitate what's on the message board in the arena. So if the message board, showing the live feed, cuts away to beg the fans for "NOISE!" the live access viewer sees the word "NOISE" rather than the game.

I don't understand, Dear Diary, why you'd treat loyal, but limited, fan bases like this.

I also don't understand why, if you are a league clamoring for exposure, you would not clean up all methods of exposure. Or why it's not a priority.

You know what else toasted my breadcrumbs Tuesday night, Dear Diary? The way the Washington Mystics flouted WNBA rules.

ESPN cameras cut to a shot of the Washington coaching staff late in the game. It showed head coach Julie Plank talking strategy with two assistant coaches: Marianne Stanley and Trudi Lacey. This, of course, is a no-no. Teams, per new WNBA rules, may use one assistant coach per game on the bench, even at home. The other coach, by rule, is required to sit behind the bench and not offer strategy, or anything else.

If you watch a Sun game, Dear Diary, you'll note that Mike Thibault never confers with the assistant designated to be behind the bench that night.

You should know, Dear Diary, that the spies tell me Washington voted in favor of dropping one assistant coach in the offseason as a cost-cutting measure. So the Mystics vote to cut one assistant and still use two down the stretch of a close game? The Sun, not in favor of the rule, still adhere to it?

Why is this allowed to happen?

I would like an explanation, Dear Diary.

A friend of mine, Dear Diary, calls the WNBA a "secret society." He means that unless you're involved in it, you don't know how much fun it is. He's right. But there are times when I feel like a fool for liking it so much, when the formation of the rules are shortsighted and application of the rules are haphazard. It all feels like, "thank you sir, may I have another?" to the people who care.

Next week, Dear Diary, women's basketball royalty comes to Connecticut for "Stars at the Sun," a game between league all-stars and at least some members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. My guess, Dear Diary, is that we'll get told what a smashing success this season has been so far.

I will try not to smirk, Dear Diary.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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