Selfless fans' action is refreshing
Asked 1,000 different ways to list 1,000 different things she has wanted to do with her life, owning a professional sports franchise never...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Asked 1,000 different ways to list 1,000 different things she has wanted to do with her life, owning a professional sports franchise never would have found a place in Anne Levinson's to-dos.
And when asked, in her childhood, to name her hoop heroes, Lisa Brummel always mentioned guys like John Havlicek, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed.
Growing up in America, these women, who were at the beginning of the boom that created Title IX and gave their gender the same chances at competition as men, had no idea of the opportunities awaiting them.
They couldn't dream of a day, like Tuesday, when they would do something truly monumental for women's sports.
But here these two women were, on a podium inside the Furtado Center, sitting with colleagues Ginny Gilder and Dawn Trudeau, announcing their purchase of the WNBA's Seattle Storm.
It was a great day for basketball in Seattle, something we haven't been able to say very often these past two years.
This group that is calling itself Force 10 Hoops, these four accidental owners, all of whom seemed uncomfortable in front of Tuesday's bright lights, are saving women's basketball in Seattle.
"How big is the smile on my face today?" asked Storm chief operating officer Karen Bryant.
This is a rare victory for populism in sports. It is a reminder that, if enough people care enough and are willing to make enough noise, and if the right people are there, willing to risk some cash for the cause, a franchise can be saved.
These four women, all Storm season-ticket holders, went to the games, heard the crowd, shared the passion and found a way to keep the game in Seattle.
"I think people would have put our chances of putting this together at slim-to-none," said Levinson, who led the negotiating team that cut a deal with Clay Bennett's ownership group. "I never thought it would be possible and it wasn't on my list. But it is now, and I'm grateful that we are at a place in our society where we can step up and do this. Frankly, it's pretty amazing."
Amazing and refreshing.
Force 10 Hoops isn't expecting to make money. It will settle for breaking even. It is here to celebrate women's basketball. Its motives are altruistic, selfless, pure.
"To me it's like being an underdog in a game," said Brummel, who was drafted in the fourth round in 1981 by the Dallas Diamonds of the short-lived Women's Basketball League. "You don't not play the game because you think you're going to be the underdog. You take it on because of the challenge and you figure out a way to go meet that. That's the same thing we're doing here."
They have been able to undo some of the damage done after former owner Howard Schultz gave away Seattle basketball to the highest bidder. They've proven that the fans' voices do matter.
"Storm fans are amazing," said Brummel, a member of Microsoft's senior management team and a former basketball and softball player at Yale. "When you see them renewing their season tickets, even though they don't know if their team is even going to be here or not, that says something.
"You have to take that as a sign that there's something very important that's underlying this whole business. And, if you tap into that, you're going to have something great."
At their best, professional sports franchises enrich their cities. They breathe excitement the way the Seahawks did last Saturday. And, under the right circumstances, they create role models.
"Athletics have been the foundation for me to move forward as a business leader," Brummel said. "Athletics have been a very, very important thing in my life, and that's part of the reason why I want to give back. All of us came up at the beginning of Title IX, so we were all the pioneers of this era and were at the beginning of understanding what sports can do. I think athletics can be fundamental in going forward."
Someone in Seattle was listening when the fans spoke.
One team saved.
One to go.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.