This week, we interviewed Lyndsey D'Arcangelo, a sportswriter at The Athletic who writes Courtside, a newsletter about what’s happening in the WNBA.
What's your Substack about in one sentence?
Courtside is a Q&A series featuring unfiltered, honest, revealing and fun chats with some of the greatest players in WNBA history as well as rookies, veterans and All-Stars in the league today.
You’ve been a writer for 18 years. What first led you to become a sportswriter and cover the WNBA?
I've always been into sports, and basketball is at the top of my list. I grew up watching college basketball (both women's and men's), the NBA, and then the WNBA when the league began in 1997.
My path to becoming a sportswriter was basically a twisty road, because I started out writing about a variety of other things before I realized that combining my passion for sports with my writing endeavors was exactly what I should be doing. And I wanted to give the WNBA the coverage and attention it deserved.
The WNBA as a whole doesn’t get as much coverage as the NBA. Why is that, and do you think things are changing?
There are a few reasons – starting with the fact that men's sports in general receive far more media coverage than women's sports. The NBA has also been around longer and is embedded in the fabric of sports culture. Lastly, mainstream media has been slow to realize that the more they cover the league, the more sports fans will want to read, learn, and know about what's happening in the WNBA. The coverage is what draws fans, not the other way around (waiting for fans and then increasing coverage). But in the past five years, I've seen an incredible uptick in coverage, viewership, and fan engagement, and it's incredibly encouraging.
Why is it important to give readers a chance to get to know players off the court?
While WNBA coverage is growing and reaching a wider audience, it's still not where it should be. When people learn about the players on a more personal level, it gives them a connection and incentive to follow them on the court, watch games, and root for them and their team. I thought Courtside would give avid fans some inside information they don't often hear about or know, as well as introduce players to casual and would-be fans. It's a win-win. And the players I chat with get to let their guards down a bit and share as much as they want to share. You don't get that in feature articles or game recaps.
In an era of social media, where players are scrutinized more closely than ever, what will be the role of sports writing?
I think there's a balance that needs to happen, and sports writers (myself included) need to be more self-aware of what to cover and when. Athletes are putting more of themselves and their personal lives on social media, but that doesn't mean sports writers have to cover every little thing. In the case of Courtside, I ask personal questions but leave it up to WNBA players to answer how they see fit. I give them the platform to share or explain things. I think that's one way of finding balance.
Who would be your dream interview and why?
Great question. I've interviewed so many athletes, especially WNBA players, that I grew up admiring and wanting to chat with. I wrote an extensive feature on Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, and it was a dream getting to interview them both for the story. I think for Courtside, I'd love to have a casual chat with Liz Cambage. I think she would be perfect for this because she's so off-the-cuff, open, honest and playful. She doesn’t hold back.
Who's another Substack writer you'd recommend?
Howard Megdal has a newsletter called The IX and it's great.
Subscribe to Lyndsey’s newsletter, Courtside.