Hoops and Headscarves: Iran’s Top Women Basketball Players in Action

The championship game of the Iranian Super League—Iran's WNBA—was a nail-biter. Here are some highlights

The Keshavars of Qazvin, a city in northwest Iran, squeaked past Ararat of Tehran 77-75, shutting the door on a late-game rally to claim the championship trophy of the Iranian Super League, or Iran’s WNBA.

Wearing loose-fitting, full-body uniforms and sporting headscarves, the women played physical basketball in front of a loud all-female crowd. Supporters of both teams cheered fiercely, rising from the bleachers of the high school-size stadium to clap and wave.

Women’s basketball actually has a long history in Iran, dating back to Shah Pahlavi’s reign in the ’60s. The uniforms of that era even mirrored those in the West, as women were free to show bare skin and hair without facing government retribution. But the heyday of Iranian women’s basketball came in the decade that would culminate in the Islamic Revolution. In 1974, the Iranian national team placed fourth in the Asian Games.

Once the revolution took hold, all sports, but especially women sports, took a backseat to politics and war. Ayatollah Khomeini’s activist conservative government made winning the war with neighboring Iraq and the country’s liberals its top priority, and near complete international isolation made it difficult for Iranian athletes to compete abroad. Yet over the last decade, women’s sports have reemerged in a new Islamic form. Now female teams, including basketball teams, are officially sanctioned. They have salary caps, management, a dedicated female fan base and increasing coverage from the Iranian press.

Respond Now
ISIS

'Jihadi John' Of ISIS Videos Revealed To Be Briton Mohammed Emwazi

Abigail Tracy
RELIGION

Why This Christian Woman Is Wearing Hijab For Lent

Elizabeth Kulze
DRUGS

The 2015 Guide To Smoking Pot Legally In The U.S.

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh
ISIS

How Brooklyn's ISIS Trio Plotted Their Trip To Syria Online

Ross Keith
GUNS

Sandy Hook Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To The NRA

Sarah Kaufman
ISIS

British Teen YouTuber Mocking ISIS Becomes Its “American” Idol

Gilad Shiloach
MEDIA

Data Mine, Feb. 26: McDonald’s Is A Super-Sized Tax Dodger

Oren Dotan
ISIS

Video: ISIS Smashes Dozens Of Ancient Statues In Iraq

Gilad Shiloach