Huffington Post columnist, Jessica Luther, who is a freelance journalist, author and co-host of the feminist sports podcast, Burn It All Down, wants more women’s basketball coverage. She believes increased promotion will lead to greater popularity. Ms. Luther, you could feature women’s basketball daily and I still wouldn’t watch. Women’s basketball sucks!
I’m a lifelong baller. I was born with a Basketball Jones while my father was on scholarship to play for the University of Southern Mississippi. Basketball has been my life. I was a superstar in high school, a star in college, and a journeyman on the world professional circuit. I’ve always supported females who played. In high school, I would team with ladies and challenge the boys. We usually won. Although I respect their effort, they simply do not play the game well.
Does this make me misogynistic? Author Luther whines that Americans are more familiar with Sister Jean, Jean Dolores-Schmidt is the 98-year-old team chaplain for Loyola University Chicago, than star player, Arike Ogunbowale, of Notre Dame. Is Ms. Luther familiar with Father Rob, who is the 53-year-old chaplain of Villanova, the men’s team that won the national title last Monday? How come a female chaplain is more of an American darling than a male chaplain? Is this national misandry? Face it, Sister Jean is adorable and America wants to give her a collective hug. It’s not a gender war.
Although I have no interest in women’s basketball, I crave women’s volleyball. I could watch endlessly. I served as a coach with the Chinese women’s team years ago. We earned a Silver medal in the Olympics. I met many male players, yet I’m not a fan of men’s volleyball. They’re too big for the court. The net is too low. While they are powerful, the beauty of volleyball isn’t smashing a serve or driving a killer spike into the face of an opponent. It’s team play, extended rallies and perfect execution that makes volleyball special. Women play the game gracefully. Does this make me misandrous? Or do men and women excel differently.
For example, while I spent hours drooling over the abilities of Michael Jordan, I could watch Paula play volleyball far longer. Paula Renata Marques Pequeno, better known as Paula Pequeno, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist volleyball player from Brazil. I had the opportunity to meet and get to know her personally in practice sessions prior to Olympics 2012. My friend, Jenny Lang Ping, invited me to the U.S. Olympic facility in Colorado Springs. She coached the women’s USA Volleyball team that year. Paula mesmerized me. The Brasilian team was amazing. I couldn’t watch enough.
Or how about Jaqueline Maria Pereira de Carvalho Endres? She’s another Brazilian volleyball player I was fortunate to meet and a member of the Brazilian team that won gold at the Olympic Games at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Few Americans know these talented female athletes. I’ll wager Jessica Luther doesn’t know them. Why not? They were on TV. Jessica and others were free to watch. Did they?
Equality v. Equity
Can we celebrate our unique skills and stop forcing America to be a land of equality? Men and women are not equal. This past weekend, TV covered a dunk contest of men and women high school players. One male threw the ball to the backboard, leaped to the moon, caught the ball, did a loopty-loop while passing the ball between his legs, and dunked the ball forcefully. Judges gave him average scores of nine for a total of 90. The next competitor was female. She took two dribbles to the hoop and did a simple one-handed dunk, which barely inched over the rim. Fans erupted in pandemonium. Judges gave her perfect 10s for a total score of 100.
Not only did the event violate rules of equality, as the female certainly wasn’t equal in skill, it’s not clear there was “equity” in this event. Equity means something has the “quality of being fair and impartial.” The degree of difficulty of the male’s maneuver was certainly higher than that of the female’s. The male’s dunk definitely required greater creativity and physical skill. The female was simply tall enough and jumped minimally well to drop the ball over the edge of the rim. Nothing in her performance justified the impartial reaction by fans and judges.
Ms. Luther furthers a woman’s perspective to the traditional male position about sport. Men historically didn’t demand more coverage just for the sake of promotion. They trusted the market. As a kid, NBA playoffs were tape-delayed to start after the late evening news around 10:30pm. America didn’t demand earlier programming. Magic, Larry Bird and Michael changed the game and brought Showtime to primetime. Their play excited the world — not mere promotion.
Kevin Costner played the epic role of an Iowa farmer in Field of Dreams. He heard a mysterious voice say, “If you build it, he will come.” Ray simply needed to mow down some of his corn field and players would come, as the legend goes. If the players played, people would watch. There was no need to artificially create demand. Although Ray cleared a field, women didn’t show up to play softball — and I’m confident stating had they come, few spectators would have come to watch. It’s just not the same game.
Accept Our Differences
I watched March Madness Final Four on Saturday afternoon, as well as the championship final Monday evening. I had nothing special to do Sunday when the women played for the national title. I didn’t watch. I’m simply not interested. Women’s basketball sucks!
Where is women’s volleyball? I would watch. The USA Women’s soccer team is amazing. I love watching them play the beautiful game. American men suck. We all know this. They didn’t even qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. For me, I enjoy both men and women in this sport, but the speed and strength of men definitely excites. I was disappointed to hear of the disparity in pay and conditions between women and men at the last world cup. Part of this is due to market forces. While I enjoy the play of both genders, millions of fans suggest otherwise. Men and women are featured equally at World Cup or in Olympic competition, but fans prefer men’s soccer. They vote with their dollars.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Men and women aren’t equal. We’re different. Women are better than men in many activities. They are more effective being cooperative, collaborative and team participants. This allows them to go far. Men are superior at individual pursuits where physical prowess is required. This allows them to go fast. America, and the world, wins when we find balance between the two groups. Don’t demand we be the same; we’re not. Let’s champion our individual and group success. This allows us to go fast and far. Together, we win!