Chicago Sky help clear away our city’s dark clouds with magic on the court

The sky seems to be falling around us and everywhere else around the world.

Here in Chicago, as in other American cities, our sports teams can help us momentarily forget the violence, oppression and corruption that envelops so many lives. Even when our teams lose — and that happens a lot — we can walk away with a feeling of hope and reassurance that luck can change on and off the field.

The Chicago Sky, which made their debut nearly two decades ago, are finally getting widespread recognition as being among those welcoming distractions. The WNBA team, which gave our city a championship season three years ago, is rapidly drawing a diverse fan base, including girls and young women who see themselves in the fierce athletes burning up the basketball court.

The crowds may miss the great Candace Parker, who left the Sky last year and announced her retirement in April. They could also still be stinging over the trade that led to the departure of 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper. But those departures haven’t dimmed the hoopla. There are new stars in the Sky, and they are burning bright.

The arrival of powerhouse rookies Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso has increased the temperature of Sky fever to an all-time high. Ticket sales and revenue jumped by 33% and 58%, respectively, since it was revealed the top draft picks were going to be wearing Chicago jerseys this season, Sky CEO Adam Fox told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile. Reese got her first WNBA double-double on Tuesday, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

The excitement should go up a notch Saturday when the 6-foot-7 Cardoso, who suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason, makes her debut against Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever.

Adoration for the Sky and the WNBA has also renewed awareness of the pay gap between female and male athletes and other inequities that have been accepted for too long. Case in point: WNBA players were just granted chartered flights this year.

The WNBA doesn’t rake in as much money as the NBA, but the league is making inroads that could impact its bottom line and keep sexist haters from dunking on women’s professional sports.

Toward the end of May, the WNBA saw a 14% increase in attendance from last year. The first five WBNA games on ESPN networks for 2024 also averaged 1.43 million viewers — up 181% from the same number of games last season.

The WBNA is winning, too, with the sale of merchandise and league-pass purchases and app downloads.

The Sky really is the limit.

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