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Candice Wiggins Reveals ‘Very, Very Harmful Culture’ In WNBA

Candice Wiggins Reveals ‘Very, Very Harmful Culture’ In WNBA

A quick eye test would tell Candice Wiggins has had a successful career playing professional basketball in the WNBA. Before she was drafted 3rd overall in 2008, she was a four-time All-American at Stanford.

Before she was drafted 3rd overall in 2008, she was a four-time All-American at Stanford. Right in his rookie year, she was recognized as the best reserve in the league and won the Sixth Woman of the Year. In 2011, she was a champion with the Minnesota Lynx. While playing in Europe in-between the WNBA seasons, she played for a Grecian team and won the Euro Cup.

But amidst all the success, Wiggins is retiring from the WNBA and ripped what she called a very harmful culture going on in the WNBA.

Via SF Gate:

“It wasn’t like my dreams came true in the WNBA. It was quite the opposite,” said Wiggins, the La Jolla Country Day alum who is being inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions’ Bretibard Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

For the first time in an extensive interview, Wiggins described what she said was a “very, very harmful” culture in the WNBA — one in which she contends she was bullied throughout her eight-year career. She also described the discouragement she felt being a part of a “survival league” that she said still struggles for attention and legitimacy after 20 seasons in existence.

“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins said. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”

Wiggins, a four-time All-American at Stanford, asserts she was targeted for harassment from the time she was drafted by Minnesota because she is heterosexual and a nationally popular figure, of whom many other players were jealous.

“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules (the other players) could apply.

“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played — those things contributed to the tension.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ ”

There is no published data on the percentage of WNBA players who are gay. In a 10-team league that employs 120 players annually, at least 12 current and former players have come out publicly in various forms of media.

Wiggins said she was disheartened by a culture in the WNBA that encouraged women to look and act like men in the NBA.

“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,’ she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

There is no official data about sexual preferences of WNBA players but at least a dozen has already come out as gay. We hear the LGBT community cry foul over mistreatment and discrimination all the time and it’s just sad that they would actually do that to straight men and women (as in Wiggins’ case). Whatever the case, bullying of any sort– from anyone to anyone– has no place in this world, much less in professional sports.

Photo via: Sports Illustrated

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