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WNBA's Bunny Brigade: New Role Models for America's Girls

Encouraging your daughter to pose for pornography?

If you're allowing her to be a fan of the Women's National Basketball Association, you might be.

Last week's online contest at Playboy.com belies the WNBA's claim that its players are great role models for young girls — the league's ostensible, primary raison d'etre.

In its "Sexiest Babes of the WNBA," Playboy invited visitors to vote for the sexiest of 10 WNBA players and coaches, with the winner invited to pose au naturel in that publication.

The contest further exposed the WNBA's phony line about equality of women in sports.  You don't see Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal degrading themselves for Playgirl to
get more fans.

Playboy's "contest" was held with the tacit cooperation of the WNBA even though the league isn't publicly saying anything about it or openly endorsing it. Not this year, at least.

But, last year, with Playboy's first-time "Sexiest WNBA Babe" contest, multiple photos of WNBA players adorned its Web site, "courtesy of WNBA."

This was in addition to an open endorsement of Playboy's effort by then-Phoenix Mercury head coach Cheryl Miller.

"I'm a huge fan of just filling the seats, and if it takes the Anna Kournikovas of the world to fill them, then that's what you have to do," Miller told the Los Angeles Daily News.  "I don't want to focus on (looks) being the main draw ... but hey whatever fills the seats."

While young girls idolize its players, the WNBA didn't say anything to counter that shameless, open approval of player-porn.

The WNBA's involvement with this is reprehensible. Especially since the league is heavily involved with high school girls' basketball and community programs for young girls.

Houston's Sheryl Swoopes, the WNBA's main spokesplayer, said she was "totally shocked" but "very grateful" about being chosen for both this and last year's Playboy contest.  "The Playboy.com Top 10 is something the fans should know about."

This year, there are fewer outright indications of WNBA involvement in this sad display, but almost every player-candidate for the pictorial contest gave friendly interviews to Playboy saying how honored she was to be chosen for this disgusting contest.  And a picture of player Nikki McCray also bears the credit, "photo: courtesy of Washington Mystics."

The silence of the WNBA and its commissioner, Val Ackerman, is deafening.  Why hasn't she asked her players to refrain from interviews with Playboy?  In constant hypocrisy, Ackerman's public relations appearances are a constant stream of high-flown descriptions of purported WNBA role models for girls.  But, it's hard to take this feminist sports league seriously, when it allows these types of contests to continue with its "unofficial" participation. 

It's well documented that pornography, including Playboy, contributes to violence against women.  Not to mention, it degrades and objectifies them as mere sex vehicles.  It's an outrage that the WNBA remains silent.

And there's the matter of this year's winner, announced last week.  The Phoenix Mercury's Lisa Harrison told the Arizona Republic that she would pose for the porn magazine, if she won.

"Listen, I need the publicity, I need money.  I'm not getting it in the WNBA, so I'll have to do it my own way," she told the paper. "I don't think it's my job to actually teach children right from wrong."

Yes, you too can have a daughter that aspires to be like Harrison.  "It's great to be recognized ... as a strong woman," she told Playboy in her interview.

No, a strong woman wouldn't even consider it.

Debbie Schlussel is a Detroit-based attorney and TV and radio political commentator.