This morning I wrote a post about the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. On Sunday, they won a record-tying 88th consecutive game, matching the streak of the UCLA men’s team of the early ’70s. Tonight they play Florida State, a team they should beat for win number 89.
After Sunday’s win, Geno Auriemma, UConn’s head coach, made some comments about how people are only interested in the streak because they’re now on the verge of breaking a men’s record. I questioned Auriemma’s comments, saying they weren’t directed at the right place.
Steve Hill had a different take. He wondered what this meant for women’s basketball going forward:
Records get broken, it’s the reality of sports. I am interested to see if women’s college basketball will follow the path of men’s college basketball going forward. Thanks to the financial growth of the sport and the popularity of March Madness, coupled with international recruiting, the men’s game is characterized by a lot of really good teams (all of which beat each other around throughout the season). The women’s game on the other hand is characterized by two or three great programs, 15 to 20 decent teams, and then a ton of uncompetitive schools that really just function as scholarship programs (a huge positive for education, but a huge schism in the competitive nature of the sport). Example: Notice how the term “Cinderalla team” doesn’t exist in the women’s game. If you were in an office pool for the women’s tournament and you picked all of the top seeds to win, you would probably win the pool.
Marc compared the women’s game to the Canadian Football League:
I think there are actually two parts to this: 1. Is he right that we’re caring more because it’s an overall record vs. just a woman’s record? Yes. 2. Are we “up in arms” because a man’s record is going to get toppled? I doubt it.
I live in Toronto, and a few years ago the quarterback for our CFL team, Damon Allen, broke the all-time passing record for professional football overall. He didn’t get much press for it (in relative terms to, let’s say, a Michael Vick dog conviction) because he was just doing it in a league that doesn’t garner the same level of attention as the NFL. That doesn’t mean it’s a gender thing, it’s just an eyeballs thing—when you do something on a bigger stage it gets a bigger reaction than if you do it on a smaller one.
Thanks, Steve and Marc, for joining the conversation.