The Invincible Lady Huskies
Tonight history was made in the world of sport that brings to the surface uncomfortable questions about the nature of gender equality in American culture. The event in question is that the University Of Connecticut women’s basketball team broke the all time record of 88 consecutive wins by a major college team set by the UCLA men’s squad from January 23, 1971 to January 19, 1974.
Earlier in the day the U-Conn coach, Geno Auriemma, spoke to the press who had come up to Storrs Connecticut to cover this historic event. The caustic language with which this coach of the apparently invincible women’s basketball team addressed the male sports writing fraternity caused me to sit up and take notice.
When he charged that the only reason they were there was because the ladies were about to beat the all time winning record set by the great UCLA men’s team, which was coached by the legendary John Wooden, he got my undivided attention. Coach… rubbed their noses in their hypocrisy and sexism when it comes to evaluating female athletes. He pointed out that they have been winners for years, with an unmatched record of excellence, but they hardly got more than a line or two in the male dominated sports press! As the father of a talented female athlete I felt like rejoicing.
In the movie “Love and Basketball,” another insightful Spike Lee Joint, there is a line that says, “Basketball is basketball…athletes are athletes.” Although this seems obvious enough, there are many people who will argue that the achievement of these women should not be given the same importance as the UCLA men’s team because the competition is not as good and the game they play is of an inferior variety of ball. But that is like comparing apples and oranges; like people who attempt to say which musicians are greater: Jazz musicians or those who perform European classical music. They are two different things; both making music but the requirements and challenges are different.
I have learned much about this question from talking with my daughter Makeda. As a girl growing up she was never particularly interested in watching males play sports. Having a twin who was an athlete exposed her to sports and eventually led her to want to play them, especially after I ruthlessly rejected her request to become a cheerleader. Makeda became a multi-sport athlete in high school – basketball, track and fencing – then went on to compete as a sprinter – 100 & 200 meters) at the University Of Delaware: Which is a Division I program. She also took a degree in Sports Science and did graduate study in nutrition at Columbia. She is a certified sports nutritionist among other certifications in the health/fitness/sports fields.
Makeda On the Track
Athletes Are Athletes!
Makeda explained to me that women would never be able to compete successfully against men on the elite level because of the presence of testosterone in males. But she also points out that this is irrelevant because the competition between elite women athletes is well matched. Like in boxing, you don’t put light-weights in the ring with heavy weights! The point is to put good athletes in the arena of competition who have similar physical endowments. Nobody who watched this game between U-Con and Florida State can deny that they were witnessing a performance by first rate collegiate Athletes.
There are, however, certain areas in which women excel in the game because of their lack of certain levels of physical prowess. My daughter points out that women basketball players master the fundamentals better than men. Whereas women play a real team game, Makeda views the men’s game – especially in the NBA – as an exercise in narcissistic exhibitionism that has largely abandoned team play for personal aggrandizement. The U-Con women were paragons of team play, and as near as I could tell they have raised it to such a high art that nobody can beat them. They are the winingest team ever in major college basketball!
Superstar Mya More is a fabulous basketball player by any standard. For instance shooting the ball a distance from the basket, where the ball must travel through the air, is an equal accomplishment for both men and women. And Maya’s jump shot is deadly! She scored over 40 points in this historic game. And she has a great supporting cast; they play the game like Goddesses from a Greek Drama, rising above the level of mere mortals to perform fantastic feats…supernatural things. The Lady Huskies have been beating their opponents by over thirty points…tonight was no different! These great athletes are justly celebrated by fans of women’s sports and their friends. History was made tonight…girl power rules!
Harlem, New York
December 22, 2010