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03/27/2012

RANT - NCAA women's basketball, you aren't men's basketball

Griner-Baylor-women-slam-into-Elite-Eight-9G16PO7F-x-largeFULL DISCLOSURE: I served as the TCU women's basketball media relations director in the mid '90s for two seasons, and I've covered a number of women's basketball games as a sports journalist. Therefore, I have no problem in saying ...

There are not enough good women's basketball players to field a legit Top 25 let alone a 64-team post season NCAA tournament, and an additional WNIT field. Thanks to Title IX, however, the enormous waste of money that is the NCAA women's basketball tournament exists.

This is not some standard "Nobody cares" diatribe against women's basketball. People care, but the number just isn't very big. This is not some scream-fest against Title IX; a lot of good has been generated via this piece of legislation, namely a lot of young women play sports.

This is, however, a shot at those involved in women's basketball who feel their game measures with the men's. It does not. It's a different game, a different world, and the achievements should be evaluated accordingly.

The expectations and needs of a men's basketball coach at a Division I athletic department dwarf that of the women's coach. A men's team often needs to win in order for the entire athletic department to be successful. No women's program has such pressures. 

Pat SummittNow take parity. Ten years ago coaches were thrilled with all of the parity in the women's game. It's a mirage. There is fraction of a decimal point of parity in the women's game, which is better than it has been.

Baylor is going to finish 40-0 this season. This will be the ninth time since 1976 that a women's program has finished the season undefeated, and the third time in the last four years. No men's team has gone undefeated since Indiana in 1975.

In what seems like it happens all the time, the eight finalists in the NCAA women's tournament are all one or two seeds.

In the women's game, Cinderalla is dressed as a three-seed. Pick your reason, but there simply aren't enough great players for true parity to exist yet. 

This is why the achievements of Pat Summitt at Tennessee and the UConn winning streak need to be contained to just their sport. Summitt's career win total is laudatory, but it does not compare to that of Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski; not enough quality teams have existed in her tenure for her to lose. UConn's 90-game winning streak does not compare to UCLA's 88-game winning streak beyond the actual number.

Achievement is achievement, and nothing should diminish what Baylor does this season. But to say Baylor's undefeated season compares with Indiana's 32-0 more than three decades ago is ignorant.

 

@MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com
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Comments

Fritz

You are right. And you were able to tastefully explain the truth to a very touchy subject.... I am sure Jemelle Hill, the ESPN Shock Jock, would have something to say about it..

Ziyad

I think your argument is not only valid on all accounts but served well taking into account the sensitivity with which some tend to interpret such opinions. These thoughts are in fact to me, and probably many others, indisputable. Sheer athletecism alone is the foundation for why the game does not attract the same numbers and notariety. When a certain 6'8 center "bear" jumps 15 inches to dunk a basketball and is rewarded with the #1 play of the night on perhaps the most watched televised sports program in the country (sportscenter)i just dont understand. By acknowledging such a menial feat as being so great the double standard is only being amplified.

BF

Ziyad, you have to understand that when ESPN shows the Greiner dunk, they have a dog in the fight. It's no coincidence that SportsCenter's NHL coverage shrank when it stopped carrying NHL games live, so by the contrary, they portray women's basketball the opposite because they want people to watch. Having followed Mr. Engel in his role at TCU and subsequently doing the same at other institutions, I share his thoughts on this subject. People do care about women's basketball. It can be an exciting game. Having been to probably 300+ women's Division I college basketball games in my life (at least 1/3 of those were willingly and not due to my work), I can attest. But it's not the same game. Let's not pretend that it is. Parody doesn't exist when there exactly five upsets in the whole of the tournament and every regional final is 1v2. That's what makes men's basketball so exciting, the athleticism combined with the anyone can win mentality of this time of year. It's not that women's sports aren't worth following. Women's pro tennis often out-draws men's in ratings. Women's gymnastics and women's figure skating are the ratings jewels of the Olympics. But in the case of women's basketball, it isn't quite there.

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