Thursday, April 27, 2006

Everyone knows that there is no crying in baseball. But apparently there’s quite a bit of it in women’s basketball, especially if you choose not to pretend that it is the greatest sporting event in the world. I fully recognize that this year’s women’s Final Four was a huge success and many people found it very entertaining. That doesn’t mean that I would ever desire to watch it though, and according to some, that makes me a bad person.

Earlier this week, the writer Brent, from the Paradigm Blog created a lot of controversy when he questioned NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand for giving an interview discussing why women’s basketball is given so little respect. Brent was widely criticized by many female basketball players for his remarks, but I don’t think he was too far off in his assessment.

Brent said, “People don't hate or disrespect women's sports. What they hate is having something shoved down their throats that's not entertaining and not played with a high skill level.”

That sums up a lot of people’s feelings about women’s basketball. The only problem is that they aren’t allowed to feel that way because any time someone dares to express that opinion, they get a dozen people screaming at them about what a great game women’s basketball is and how the women competing are such fine athletes.

I’m not going to question that the girls that compete in college basketball don’t work hard and aren’t fine athletes, because I’m sure they are. But that doesn’t mean it’s played at a particularly high skill level or that I find it in any way entertaining.

Part of what makes sports entertaining is watching athletes do something that you’re unable to do. I love watching basketball players throw down huge dunks, or go spinning and twisting through the lane to make an impossible lay-up. I love watching hockey players fire a blistering shot past a goalie. I love watching a quarterback throw a 40 yard into the arms of a leaping receiver. I’ll never be able to do any of those things, and watching someone else do them is exciting and entertaining.

The same can’t be said for women’s basketball. I can’t say for certain how a top women’s college basketball team would fair against a boy high school basketball team, but I’ve got a decent idea of how I would fare. I used to attend a small Division I school and in my spare time, loved to go down to the campus gym and play pick-up basketball. On a couple of occasions, members of the school’s women’s basketball team would come out and play. Most of the guys were afraid to guard a girl because they didn’t want to risk the embarrassment. I took the risk a couple of times though, and while I can’t say I was dominant, I can say that I more than held my own, often outscoring my female counterpart. That’s not to say that those female players, and their teammates were bad basketball players. In fact that team went on to make the NCAA women’s tournament later that season. It’s just saying that even though their skill level is high for them, it’s not high enough to arouse my interest.

The same goes for other women’s sports such as tennis. While I enjoy watching the amazing athleticism and contrasting styles of men’s tennis, I think watching two over-sized women stand glued to their respective baselines having a who-can-scream-louder contest to be incredibly boring.

The other, more important issue with women’s basketball is the way it is marketed. I understand that ESPN wanted to get a piece of the March Madness pie, and had to settle for the version where a back screen is a foreign concept and nobody has to jump to get a rebound. But I don’t need to hear Liz Phair sing about it during every commercial break on ESPN for three straight months. What’s wrong with just letting the game sell itself instead of loudly telling everyone how they need to watch this sport, and then yelling even louder when they say they don’t like it?

Nobody is trying to deny women the right to compete in sports. They have every right to have the same opportunities as men do. But the idea that every person needs to watch and appreciate their sport is ridiculous.

1 Comments:

At 3:39 PM, Blogger PenisMan said...

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