Sue Bird Credit: Ringer NBA on YouTube

As interest in women’s basketball as illustrated by massive ratings for the NCAA tournament already, future Hall of Famer Sue Bird is calling on networks like ESPN to follow suit by investing in women’s sports analysts rather than pushing them to men’s sports.

In an interview on Real Ones from the Ringer NBA Show released Friday, Bird took issue with ESPN pushing many former women’s basketball athletes and analysts who came up broadcasting women’s hoops into covering the NBA.

“A lot of them get pulled away from women’s basketball because these media companies aren’t investing in the announcers that do know women’s sports as women’s sports commentators,” Bird explained. “They kind of get pushed over to the NBA side at times. I just kind of want to make that clear that we need them on our side.”

Broadcasters like Monica McNutt and Andraya Carter have earned greater profiles at ESPN in recent years, but at the worldwide leader, that means more opportunities covering men’s sports. Take Chiney Ogwumike, who started at ESPN six years ago while still early in her WNBA career and now frequently hosts NBA Today and NBA Countdown.

“I would love for Chiney to be 100 percent women’s basketball, but that’s just me,” Bird said. “I know she’s got to make that money too, so therein lies the dilemma.”

This debate is not unlike media watchers and fans who have called for more studio programming attached to women’s basketball. Unlike the NBA, ESPN’s WNBA and NCAA women’s basketball broadcasts don’t always have pregame, halftime and postgame shows. There is no regular show covering the league like Baseball Tonight, let alone a daily show like NBA Today.

Perhaps as the WNBA looks ahead to a new broadcast rights deal, it can work with its partners to push for more. That would allow experts like McNutt, Carter and Ogwumike to stick in the sport long-term rather than jumping to men’s sports in order to get more opportunities and make more money.

[The Ringer NBA Show]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.