Tired of all the discusison about the women’s game from pundits who still mean the men’s game when they say “basketball”? And all the discussion about how UConn may be “bad” for the women’s game because of their dominance? Here’s a wonderful comeback from Rebecca Lobo in the NY Times …
For Women, a Return to Home Courts
Rebecca Lobo Rushin, a broadcaster for ESPN, is a 2010 inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Nine years ago in a bar in New York, I was introduced to a sportswriter who had recently ripped my profession. “Didn’t you just write something snide about women’s basketball?” I asked him.
I was playing for the New York Liberty of the W.N.B.A. at the time and he was a columnist for Sports Illustrated who blushed and stammered and admitted that he had. I asked him how many women’s games he’d ever attended. Glazed in flop-sweat, he said: “None.”
It’s a problem the women’s game still endures. Every year, people who openly admit to not watching women’s basketball denigrate its marquee event, the N.C.A.A. tournament. It’s like crashing a wedding and complaining about the food.
This week alone, I’ve switched off several pundits — or sent their columns windmilling across the room — as they decried the dominance of the UConn women as bad for The Game. I love that people who haven’t seen a game are self-appointed custodians of The Game. (To show their impartiality, they often hide behind the fig leaf of “having daughters.”)
There are improvements I’d like to see to the women’s tournament. Any game seems less exciting when played in an empty arena, squeaking sneakers echoing through the gym.
I’d like to see first-round games return to the raucous home floors of the four highest seeds in each region (as was the case when I played for UConn in the mid-90s) rather than 16 pre-determined neutral sites. The old way gave the top seeds a home court advantage, but one they had earned. More important, it made for a big-game atmosphere that is impossible without crowd noise.
Full arenas would be good for The Game as well as the games. But then I actually watch those games. Incidentally, so does that sportswriter I met in the bar. We’ve been married for 7 years now and have three children.