At first glance the latest attempt to revive women's professional basketball seems noble.

Women should have the chances that men have enjoyed for years.But the scheme has nothing to do with equal opportunity - in spite of what the organizers have claimed - and everything to do with exploitation.

Their main aim is to cash in on sex appeal.

As Jim Drucker, head of the new league, the Liberty Basketball Association, admitted, "We did not start it with, `What can we do for women?' We started at, `What kind of exciting sports product can we create?' "

That's precisely the problem.

The new league is modeled after the National Basketball Association.

The game features a smaller ball, shorter court and lower baskets to quicken the pace.

"What has already been proven is that fans love the NBA and men's college basketball," Drucker says. "I don't think they love it because they're men. I think they love it because of the style of play. What this league does is create the NBA style with women."

So does this "style" extend to the uniforms? No way.

In contrast to the "ugly, bulky, grotesque uniforms that women have been forced to play in the past," Drucker says, the players will wear "form-fitting" unitards "required to be attractive to both in-arena and television viewers."

When was the last time a player in the National Basketball Association wore a unitard?

The revealing wear is clearly aimed at capturing the attention of the TV fans - most of whom are expected to be male.

Making the players attractive detracts from women's professional abilities and focuses all eyes on their bodies.

Sadly, Nancy Lieberman-Cline, an Olympian and former professional player who has long pressed for parity for women's basketball, buys that approach.

"This is all part of appeal marketing," Lieberman-Cline said. "We're in a society where all that matters." She added, "I will do whatever I can for women's basketball."

With nine sponsors and an ESPN contract, the league, which is to start play in December, already has a better chance of survival than its predecessors.

The backers say it gives female athletes a chance to achieve professional status.

But everyone should recognize it for what it is: a made-for-TV game that exploits women.

(Jena Janovy, a student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, played on the women's basketball team at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.)