Survive and advance. That has been the single goal of every WNBA team and its fans the last few weeks. As for my team, the Indiana Fever, a sigh of relief echoed through Conseco Fieldhouse Monday night as we extended our post season and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in seven years. By the way, there's nothing more agonizing then waiting all day for an 8 pm tip off in a deciding game 3. But, the thrill of another victory seems to erase all the anxiety that the wild ride of a season brings. If you are a sports fan, and you are as loyal and passionate as our Fever fans, then you know the ride I am talking about. After some games, you are at the highest peak of emotion filled with elation and pride, and the next -- after a loss, of course -- well, it feels like the flu or something that makes you ache inside.
That is what I love about my job. Sports can transform a community. Everyone becomes bonded by the same journey. The players become an extension of the fans hopes and dreams. There is no doubt that in its 15th year, the WNBA continues to represent something more than just another pro basketball league. It also has become a social instrument for how we view women athletes in the professional team sports world. There seems to be a clear connection amongst fans between celebrating the players' superior athleticism and their genuine gratitude for serving as role models in our community.
Over the years in Indy, the city has slowly caught the Fever. As I see people out and around the city, they no longer ask me how is 'your' team doing.... they ask me how is 'our' team doing? Or they ask, is this the year 'WE are gonna go all the way? As we have worked our way into the minds and pocketbooks of a growing fan base, we are no longer followed by a single demographic group. Both men and women of all ages are filling the seats and watching our games on television. The stories I hear from fans tell me they follow us not because we have a great basketball team, but because of the all-out passion our players demonstrate on the court and the inspiration they deliver to young kids. They simply want to be a part of it. This 12-year-old sports team of amazing women is slowly transforming a community. I am thankful every day that Herb Simon, our owner, made the decision to place a team in Indianapolis. His decision has paid huge social dividends to many families and their children. My job is to guide the team and the business in a direction that will pay those dividends back to Mr. Simon. Thank goodness I have a great group of people at Pacers Sports & Entertainment who are with me every step of the way.
So, in short, surviving and advancing also has meaning to our business. With a great media partner like ESPN, who has made a tremendous commitment to our league, to Boost Mobile's groundbreaking marquee deal, we are on solid ground in which to thrive from. The League metrics are all moving in a positive direction with increased attendance, ratings and new corporate deals. I have said this before; I believe Commissioner David Stern's legacy in the world of basketball will always be firmly anchored in giving women's professional basketball a solid launching pad and continued support.
As one of my favorite quotes goes: "when the road ahead seems too long, look back and see how far you've come."
The Indiana Fever face the Atlanta Dream in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight on ESPN 2 at 7:00 PM.