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Bench warming with Beebe: February 2017

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Evan Beebe

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Benchwarming with Beebe
September 30, 2016

Blair Ripley grew up around basketball. Her mom played college ball at University of Minnesota, and later played professionally in Germany. As a child, Blair loved making trips up north for alumni weekend with her mom. She has always followed women’s college basketball, and has grown accustomed to never being able to find games on TV. “I know that I can always find them on YouTube or the school’s website,” said Ripley.

Last week, when the UCONN women’s team won their 100th straight game, Blair didn’t even bother watching, knowing she could find it the next morning if she wanted to see it.

However, if you wanted to find the game it might take you a few minutes. The game, like most women’s college basketball games, wasn’t on a major network; it was on ESPN 2.

Thinking about the UCONN game on ESPN 2, I couldn’t help but feel the same way my mom has for years. My mom was a former high school basketball player, and my aunt played college ball at Kalamazoo. My mom attended Notre Dame and growing up I noticed that she cared about the success of the women’s team much more than the success of the men’s basketball team, or even the football team. I remember her commenting “how lame” it was that a women’s final four game would be put on ESPN 2, much like the UCONN game. Growing up in a house where my sister’s athletic achievements were celebrated just as much as mine really taught me the impact of sports on all genders.Media placing men’s games above women’s games is misogynistic.

UCONN, a team whose last loss was Nov. 2014, a team who had beaten more teams by 60+ points (nine) than single digits (twice), and a team who was on the brink of the greatest feat in basketball history, should have been honored for what it was.

Blair wasn’t surprised by this decision. “People just don’t respect women’s basketball, like you always hear jokes about how women can’t dunk or whatever,” she said, “I enjoy the women’s game more because it is team oriented, while the male game is driven by star power.”

When the media talks about the NBA they talk about star players. When they talk about the UCONN team they talk about the team’s head coach, Geno Aurriema.

These women athletes are seen as secondhand to men. Just because they can’t do the amazing dunks or shoot from 40 feet out doesn’t mean these women are not amazing athletes. The sports world is a male-dominated industry that wants to please its male viewers, and all men care about is the flash and charm of athletes. Fans seem to care increasingly less about quality basketball, and more about being entertained. If these big media sources such as ESPN stress the importance and impact of female athletics just as much as male then possibly gain more viewers. The media could also turn their focus to more first-rate female athletes, as opposed to second-rate male athletes.

UCONN isn’t the only  news in the world of women’s athletics that isn’t being talked about.

Earlier this year the biggest trade you haven’t heard of took place. WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne was traded from the Chicago Sky to the Washington Mystic.

This trade would be as big as the Cubs trading Kris Bryant, or the Blackhawks trading Patrick Kane, but the news garnered very little media attention.

Delle Donne is one of the most influential women in the game. She is a three-time all-star, and was a vocal supporter of lowering the rim in the WNBA. Just last week Delle Donne and her fiancee became the first same-sex couple to receive The Knot’s Dream Wedding.

However, when she was traded I didn’t find out until a day later on the New York Times website.

I’m a guy who likes to be constantly updated on news. I get notifications from Bleacherreport, ESPN, and the New York Times, but it seems none of these sources thought this was big enough news to send me a notification, which I find very troubling. I follow these pages for all sports news, not just male sports news, and something is wrong if they are willing to prioritize the same news on an NBA bench player, before a WNBA all-star.

The best way for expectations to change for women in sports comes down to a change in the media, if males and females are treated and covered the same there is no telling the possible expansion we could see in the sports world.

 

On Feb. 13, the UCONN women’s team beat South Carolina 66-55, and cemented the program as one of the most dominant in sports history. The game was the team’s 100th straight win.

 

While this win represents one of the greatest feats in sports history, if you wanted to see the UCONN women win their 100th straight game you would have to go onto ESPN2 to see the game. I’m sure ESPN had a whole schedule planned out months before the women’s season even began, but such a momentous occasion deserves to be brought to the first channel at prime time. What ESPN played the same time was a men’s college game, which carried significantly less importance than the UCONN game. The fact of the matter is that these women athletes are seen as secondhand to men, and this is because the sports world is a male run industry that wants to please their male viewers. However, this stigma can change if these big media sources such as ESPN stress the importance and impact of female athletics just as much as male.

The UCONN Huskies last loss was Nov. 17, 2014.

Around that loss the first Mockingjay Hunger Games movie came out, and “Shake It Off” was the No. 1 song in the country.

The team has beaten opponents by 60+ points more times (nine) than they have won by single digits (twice). In basketball winning a game by 20 points is considered a blowout, in the entire history of the NBA a team has won by 60+ points only four times. The closest streak in basketball was 88 by the ‘69-’74 UCLA men’s team.

When the season began UCONN’s head coach Geno Auriemma labeled this season as a “rebuilding year”, claiming that the team lacked depth and size. However, the team has picked up right where the previous squad has left off, and are likely to coast through the competition  on their way to the team’s fourth straight national championship. With so much adversity this storyline was another that the media failed to discuss.

“I think somebody has to play a perfect game and [Connecticut] has to be off, but I don’t think it’s going to happen”  said UCONN alum Morgan Tuck when asked about the team possibly losing this year.

I’m sure most high schoolers haven’t taken the time to see the UCONN women’s team play, but I would suggest that if you find yourself turning on the Bulls game one night you try to find a UCONN women’s game instead. You will surely find a much better brand of basketball than the abysmal Bulls. Women aren’t going to do windmill dunks, or shoot from 40-feet out, but if you want to see good, team, basketball, you should make an effort to find a UCONN game.

Earlier this year the biggest trade you haven’t heard of took place. WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne was traded from the Chicago Sky to the Washington Mystic. This trade would be as big as the Cubs trading Kris Bryant, or the Blackhawks trading Patrick Kane, but the news garnered very little media attention.

Delle Donne is one of the most influential women in the game. She is a three time all star, and was a huge supporter of lowering the rim in the WNBA. Just last week Delle Donne and her fiancee became the first same-sex couple to receive The Knot’s Dream Wedding. However, when she was traded I found at a day later on the New York Times website. I’m a guy who likes to be constantly updated on news. I get notifications from Bleacherreport, ESPN, and the New York Times,but it seems none of these sources thought this was big enough news to send me a notification, which I find very troubling.

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time just set another record, on January 28th Williams won the Australian Open, which stood as her 23rd grand slam title, a new record.

Williams is an amazing player, and competitor, yet the media portrays her at times as an imposter to the sport. Her ultra-competitiveness have lead to her as being seen as “ghetto” and this is whats wrong with the media at times. The way they portray certain athletes affects how the rest of society sees them, and when sports media pushes away an incredible winning streak, or a blockbuster trade, they are stopping progress for women in sports.

 

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The student news site of Oak Park and River Forest High School
Bench warming with Beebe: February 2017