Ari Chambers is using HighlightHer and social media to prove women's sports is not a trend

Ari Chambers is the founder of HighlightHer and one of the leading influencers in the movement to make women's sports more accessible. (Photo by Ari Chambers)
Ari Chambers is the founder of HighlightHer and one of the leading influencers in the movement to make women's sports more accessible. (Photo by Ari Chambers)

On April 5, 2017, Ari Chambers fired off a five-word tweet: "The WNBA is so important."

Fans of basketball already knew that, especially women's sports enthusiasts. Nearly five years later, that saying is more poignant than ever, and Chambers is working tirelessly to ensure no one dare question its importance moving forward.

The Bleacher Report talent isn't one to publish tweets or post anything on Instagram without concern for the impact of her actions. A brief peruse through her social media channels reveal carefully devised campaigns with a single goal in mind: keep the same energy for women's sports as you do for men's athletics.

"The WNBA is the longest-standing pro women's sports league in the United States. There were talks at the 10-year mark about whether it would fold, how it would be self-sufficient, etc" the HighlightHer founder said to Yahoo Sports. "Twenty-five years later, we're still here. Just knowing that HighlightHer was a part of that ground work, really getting into the community and sharing what the fans wanted to see online is phenomenal. Social drives everything. To know we're in front of that and helping to provide visibility is all a part of our asset to the league."

In September, HighlightHer and digital payment company Zelle joined forces to begin a three-part series called Her Home Court, praising female athletes that have been impactful both to the sport and in their local communities.

The first women HighlightHer chose to honor was Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud.

"Knowing her evolution and watching her grow into her voice is really special," Chambers said of the 2019 WNBA champion. "She was on the front lines last summer with Black Lives Matter and was able to really risk it all. I think that's what you would argue are the makings of an activist. To be so disruptive and put your career on the line in order to create change."

Natasha Cloud Home Court Her
Natasha Cloud Home Court Her

Zelle also made a financial contribution to Maryland academic institution New Hope Academy in Cloud's honor.

Dawn Staley is the next change maker to earn the mural treatment. The six-time WNBA All-Star and now head coach of South Carolina women's basketball will see her portrait revealed on October 27 in The Palmetto State.

"She brought culture to South Carolina. She brought a winning mindset to the state," Chambers said to Yahoo Sports. "To have her painted on campus and in the community alongside a monetary transfer to the area is special."

The final mural will pay homage to 2017 league MVP Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx and is scheduled to be unveiled on November 22 in her hometown of Miami.

Onward to 25 more years

In less than a week's time, we'll know which team will be crowned champions of the WNBA's historic 25th year. Looking ahead to the next 25, Chambers teased a larger than life crusade to make the league a priority for broadcast networks, sponsored partners, fans and other key stakeholders.

"It's sad, but the WNBA itself has had to be a guinea pig for other women's sports leagues. But it's pushed through, persisted, and I don't see an end in sight. The WNBA is on the forefront to a lot of issues not related to the sport itself. They're ingrained within sports culture and watching these women evolve with the work they're doing on and off the court fuels my motivation to keep going.

"It's not about looking toward what's trending. Women's sports isn't a trend. It has been around and it's not going anywhere. If you stay true to what you set your goal to be, it'll grow with you."

That statement couldn't come at a more full circle moment. On Friday, Twitter Sports tapped Chambers to star in nationwide commercial to promote more conversations about women's basketball on its worldwide platform.

Featuring a number of other prominent influencers in the sport, tweets praising everything from "game day drip" to the excitement behind interviewing Hall of Fame legend Sheryl Swoopes, it negates any long-standing criticism that women's sports—specifically women's basketball—doesn't attract the same clout as their male counterparts.

"If you make it accessible, people will consume it. It's as simple as that."