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The Mystics are a valuable part of Bullets Forever

Your friendly site manager and lead moderator answer questions on why we’ve welcomed the Mystics into our site, their purpose, and more.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: Emma Meesseman #33 of the Washington Mystics gets introduced before the game against the Indiana Fever on June 22, 2016 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Over the past two years, we have begun to include regular season coverage of the Washington Mystics. We have gradually ramped up coverage from an occasional post to a weekly post last season to regular game previews and recaps this season.

This really hasn’t been the work of just one person, namely myself. We have multiple people who are part of this effort both on the front end and behind the scenes. Other people want to chip in with their coverage as well.

Besides Swish Appeal, SB Nation NBA’s women’s basketball blog, most of our fellow NBA team sites who write regularly on the WNBA teams in their cities have also received positive feedback from their respective communities.

On Canis Hoopus, SB Nation NBA’s Timberwolves blog, Lynx content has been on their site for several seasons now. Their community has welcomed it, and the Lynx winning three WNBA Finals in the last five years certainly didn’t hurt.

Following their lead, we believed that Mystics content — featuring their cast of young, up-and-coming players — could be taken in the same way by our community.

For the most part, we’re proud to see that that is true. We have received praise from people around the team and the league. Ted Leonsis, Monumental Sports, and the players themselves have engaged with our content.

In fact, they’ve engaged with us more through our Mystics coverage than our Wizards coverage.

More importantly, we get lots of emails and interactions on social media from readers who are appreciative that we are creating a space for the Mystics on this site. Some are locals. Others live abroad, particularly in Northern Belgium and the Netherlands because Emma Meesseman is from that area.

We never expected to receive many comments about Mystics coverage right away. But when we do, we have often received positive feedback there as well.

Unfortunately from time to time, we received backlash from several commenters about the Mystics, and whether they should be a part of this site altogether.

Soon after we decided to cover every game this season, several people wrote FanPosts protesting it. These FanPosts also received numerous rec’s, presumably in the hope that we would stop covering the Mystics.

Also, some of you have questioned me as to whether I am here just for the Mystics in recent weeks. That surprised me to say the least because I have written on this site for over a couple years.

I never thought that I would be questioned about “which team I care about more.” But to answer that question, I am here to say that I support both the Wizards and Mystics equally. With these months being the WNBA season, you can expect that I will write more Mystics content than the fall and winter. But please understand that I have more responsibilities here than simply writing content.

As most of you are aware, one area that I regularly check is content moderation, mostly in our comments section, but also on our social media. Moderation isn’t just about keeping people from spewing unnecessary personal attacks on each other or checking for racial slurs. It’s also about promoting the development of a welcoming online community, free of sexism, homophobia, and unnecessary vitriol.

In addition, one other thing I do is keep an eye out on your FanPosts. Over the last two NBA seasons, I have promoted many of our most engaging ones to our front page. We even have a hub for them right here. It is also a valuable resource for both Jake and I to bring on new writers to the team.

I want to thank all of our writers personally for continuing to post Wizards content on the regular while I have been laying the groundwork for making the Mystics a sustainable section of its own.

But I also realize that we should have been more forthcoming about what we were doing with the Mystics besides putting a footnote on an article here, or a comment when someone asks about it. So I am sorry that I was not clearer from the get go.

In this post, Jake and I will answer a number of questions that we have been asked in regard to the Mystics on Bullets Forever. We will also answer questions about who we want to reach, if the WNBA is covered on other sites within our network, and our differentiation compared with a site like Swish Appeal.

We want to be as forthcoming on this to the extent possible, so we apologize for the length in advance.

- Albert

Who are you trying to reach with Mystics coverage and why?

We want to reach all Mystics fans who want to learn more about their team — both on the court and off — with our content and our analysis. Since we started ramping things up in 2015, we have received much more positive feedback than the negative comment that comes here and there.

In addition, there are Wizards fans and readers of this site who want the Mystics to be covered. This is for them as well.

We are going to write more than just a recap of a game. We’re going to write about highlights. So when Bria Hartley makes defenders slip with her crossover, damn it, we’re going to share it. If Emma Meesseman has a girls basketball team in her hometown wearing sponsored jerseys with her name, we’ll do that too, even if the content is just in Dutch.

The highlights and off-the-court stories make the Mystics’ players more than just folks who play in a league “no one” cares about. They humanize them and make them more relatable, and easier to follow.

In short, we want to add an additional content source for the Wizards fans who are here while being welcoming to Mystics fans who are looking for a dedicated space just for their favorite team, and not meddled with WNBA storylines that aren’t relevant to them.

- Albert

I thought Bullets Forever is a Washington Wizards Community, not a Mystics one. Are you changing your focus?

Yes and no.

The site’s title tagline says we’re a “Washington Wizards community.” But that’s because it’s hard-coded into the site. No one on our end can change that right away.

But since we have included the Mystics into our site, our focus has changed since we made the decision to add them. So in that respect, we are a “D.C. professional basketball community” going forward, in part because we are not going to stop Mystics coverage.

That said, we are SB Nation NBA’s Washington Wizards blog, which is also not changing. Our editorial direction will still lean towards the Wizards when the news dictates it. Since the WNBA season is during the summer and NBA offseason and vice versa, most of the stories on Bullets Forever will be on the Wizards anyway.

Rest assured, we are still as much of a Washington Wizards community as we were on December 11, 2006 when our site was founded. And we are still as much of a Washington Wizards community today as we were before we started writing anything about the Mystics.

All we are doing is adding the Mystics into the mix. Let’s give you an example of Wizards news and features overtaking day-to-day Mystics news.

The Wizards didn’t do anything during the NBA Draft last week. But we focused our attention primarily on Summer League signings and free agent targets. These stories are still coming in with free agency around the corner.

When things like that happen, Mystics stories will be in our hub right below the cover, or the big picture that features our top three to five stories of the moment. If there isn't much Wizards news going on, Mystics content will show up more frequently on the cover — especially during the NBA offseason.

That said, a major Mystics story is still going on the cover regardless of timing, and it can be the primary story as well. For example, the Mystics blew out the Lynx last Sunday. We put that story in the top slot of our cover for several hours on Sunday evening before resuming what we have been doing with Summer League and NBA Free Agency.

- Albert

What differentiates Bullets Forever’s Mystics coverage from Swish Appeal’s?

Bullets Forever has always been focused toward the Washington, D.C. area given that we cover the Wizards. We haven’t covered every single piece of NBA news unless it was related to the Wizards in some way. With the exception of GameThreads during the playoffs, we’ve stayed true to that for nearly 10 years.

In the same vein, our Mystics and WNBA content focuses ONLY around the Mystics, coaches, and players. We don’t clutter the site with irrelevant storylines in women’s basketball, even if they are big within the context of their sport. Therefore, we aren’t any different in our approach to the Mystics than the Wizards — except that the Mystics have a different group of players.

Swish Appeal is a general women’s basketball site. As such, they will focus on major storylines around the sport from the WNBA to women’s college basketball and more. So they will have some Mystics stories. And they covered Sunday’s Lynx victory by the way. But again, they have a much broader focus than we do.

If you’re here reading a Wizards blog, you can understand and appreciate why having a site that can go further in-depth on a specific team is a nice thing to have. It allows fans of a team to read content on their favorite players, specific coaching analysis, and everything in between. It also gives fans an online outlet to celebrate the wins, lament the losses, and get them feeling more invested in the team than before.

There’s a growing amount of women’s basketball content on the web. That’s great. But even today, most notable women’s basketball sites focus on the WNBA from a general lens. That can be frustrating for Mystics fans who want to read fan-generated content just on their favorite team — one of the groups we want to reach. Now, we are able to provide that outlet for Mystics and Wizards fans, right here on Bullets Forever.

If you want to read about women’s basketball’s biggest headlines from a general lens, Mystics or otherwise, give Swish Appeal a visit and check them out. Women’s basketball deserves more coverage and we’re proud to have a site on our network that is focused on promoting the sport from a wide variety of perspectives.

But if you want to read Mystics-only coverage from a group of familiar Wizards fans who over-analyze everything with stats and memes, we have you covered.

We hope that sets a line of differentiation between Bullets Forever and Swish Appeal in regard to the Mystics. We may have some content overlap with them, but we are not “competing” against Swish Appeal for the exact same readers. To the contrary, we encourage that you read both sites for your women’s basketball fix.

Note of disclosure: Albert wrote on Swish Appeal for several years before coming on here. He came here to write on the Wizards back in 2014 and intends on continuing to do so which he does. Also, our decision to add Mystics coverage here is completely independent of what Swish Appeal has done over the years.

- Jake and Albert

Why doesn’t SB Nation NBA create a Mystics blog if you feel that an online community is sustainable for them?

I have asked this question in passing to higher ups before. The answer was that no one WNBA team’s fanbase will be able to have a sizable or sustainable blog or community on its own at the present time. That’s partly why our network has Swish Appeal as a general site for all of women’s basketball.

Things could always change down the road, but we don’t anticipate that happening in the foreseeable future. And we believe that we have the manpower and the platform to deliver Mystics-centric content more effectively than a Mystics-only site could.

- Albert

Mystics pieces don’t get commented on, so they aren’t successful. Why post on something that people don’t want to talk about?

The thing to keep in mind is that comments are not the only way to judge the success or value of something we write here.

While the comments section is the most vocal and visible part of our community, we also have plenty of readers who interact with us exclusively through social media and email, and of course there’s also the silent masses who will read something, process, and then move on to the next thing they’re reading that day.

For what it’s worth, our Mystics coverage is already pulling in more site traffic than our Wizards coverage did in its early years. Remember, any community worth building and developing takes time to establish and develop.

- Jake

Aren’t you taking away resources from Wizards coverage to do stuff on the Mystics?

That’s never been the case. No one that handles coverage duties for both teams has ever bailed on a Wizards writing assignment so they could do something on the Mystics.

For those of you who only follow the Wizards, we can understand why it’s annoying at times when it seems like there’s more Mystics coverage than Wizards coverage on the site. But you have to understand there are simply times in the schedule (especially during the summer) where the Mystics are doing a lot of interesting things and Wizards just aren’t.

We do our best to provide fresh, interesting things about the Wizards whenever possible. But when push comes to shove, we’d rather put something fresh, new, and interesting from the Mystics than continue to promote a three-day-old post about the Wizards that gets stale.

Plus, it’s worth noting some of our best content on the Wizards this past season came from L.W., who we initially brought on to our writing staff last season to write about the Mystics. If anything, adding Mystics coverage has helped improve our Wizards coverage, not detract from it.

- Jake

What other team sites cover the WNBA teams on SB Nation NBA besides you?

We are not the only NBA team site covering the WNBA team in our city. Other team sites on SB Nation NBA are doing the same, including:

· Canis Hoopus (Minnesota Lynx)

· Peachtree Hoops (Atlanta Dream)

· Sonics Rising (Seattle Storm)

· SB Nation NBA’s national hub (BF founder Mike Prada oversees this by the way)

Are there team sites that aren’t covering the WNBA team in their city if applicable? Yes. But we don’t control their editorial direction. Just because some site isn’t writing about their local WNBA team doesn’t mean that we have to be like them.

And who knows? Maybe those sites aren’t covering the WNBA team in their city because they don’t know where to start.

- Jake and Albert

Is Monumental Sports paying you to write Mystics content?

No. This goes for the Wizards as well.

- Jake and Albert

Concluding thoughts

It is our hope that this post answers your questions and concerns about the Mystics and their place on Bullets Forever.

Of course, we are always open to your feedback and questions. You can comment below or you can email us:

  • Jake (monumentalair AT gmail DOT com)
  • Albert (aleeinthedmv AT gmail DOT com)

Thanks again for reading and your patience as we compiled this FAQ over the past couple weeks.