Everyone knows what’s going on in “The Big Dance” for men’s basketball -Duke and UConn have both been knocked out of the tournament and No. 11 George Mason has become the true definition of Cinderella team- but does anyone really know what’s happening with the women?
Besides the University of Connecticut Huskies’ 70-game winning streak ending in 2003, no one ever pays much attention to women’s college basketball. Anybody can name the hot-shot tournament teams on the men’s side – Duke, UConn, UNC – but what about the ladies?
Does anyone know that LSU beat out Stanford for a third straight Final Four spot or that Maryland took it all the way to overtime to oust Utah for their spot?
Granted, the women’s tournament is relatively new – it’s only been around 24 years, compared to the national collegiate men’s basketball tournament-established in 1939, and there have only been 12 different champion teams, compared to the men’s 34. However, it’s not just the tournament status that is little known to the population at large – it’s women’s college basketball on the whole.
Our own school exemplifies my theory perfectly. When you walk into a women’s game in the Palestra, you’d think you accidentally entered the Periodical Reading Room in Rush Rhees. No one ever shows up.
Our women always have extremely successful seasons – they continue to make it to the NCAA tournament year after year, but it seems to have no effect. Not until UR hosted rounds one and two of the tournament did students bother to come.
It’s pretty embarrassing to be a member of a 50-person crowd mostly made up of parents and Rochester locals. What’s even more embarrassing is when the opposing team manages to produce more fans than the home school. Unfortunately, these are not uncommon occurrences.
However, it’s not just women’s basketball that fails to draw viewers. When is the last time you turned on the TV and were able to find a women’s sport playing on one of the myriad sports channels on basic cable?
Many will argue that women’s sports just aren’t aggressive enough, or not exciting enough, but I find watching Serena Williams acing a serve just as exciting as watching Andy Roddick – well, at least the sports element of it – sorry Serena, but Roddick’s got you beat out on the hotness factor.
The truth of the matter is that the field of sports is a field that has always been dominated by men. It was only in recent history that women were allowed to participate in athletic competition, and, let’s face it – we’re creatures of habit. Men’s sports produce viewers, so why change?
Of course there are going to be some dull women’s events, but I’ve witnessed some pretty boring, lopsided and worthless men’s games on TV, too. Do you mean to tell me there couldn’t have been times when these games were replaced by a women’s sporting event? I love watching the NCAA championship softball games on ESPN – how could you not be impressed by someone whipping their arm around hard enough to throw a ball 60 mph and the fact that the person at the other end of the incoming ball still can manage to hit it?
Believe me – I’m no feminist. I just enjoy watching women’s sports every now and then, and I wouldn’t mind going to a women’s basketball game on campus where there were more fans than the pep band, a few of the players’ friends and the players’ parents. They work as hard as anyone else, and they should get the respect they deserve. Besides, the games are usually exciting and entertaining.
So, next time you’re wondering what to do on a Friday evening in the winter, why not head over to a women’s basketball game? Maybe this time their trip to the Sweet 16 will grab the attention of some of our students, and people will start to realize what our women can do.
Philbrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.