At the end of the last college basketball season I wrote about the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team being within striking distance of beating the men’s record (UCLA) for longest winning streak. Since 1974, that record has stood at 88 straight wins. At the end of last season, UCONN needed eleven wins. The new season has started and so far they’re still winning.
Today #1 ranked UCONN plays game number 10 at Madison Square Garden against #11 ranked Ohio State. If UCONN wins, they will tie the men’s record. This is going to be one historic game! I can’t wait.
While I celebrate the achievement of these hard working women, others aren’t taking this as seriously. Some want to qualify it, or hedge it, and ESPN has relegated it to their third-tier, ESPNU. At least it’s being called out out in some quarters. Here’s Michelle Smith at Fanhouse:
The Connecticut women’s basketball team is on the verge of history…<snip>
Connecticut hasn’t lost since the 2008 Final Four. They’ve won two national titles at the end of two unbeaten seasons.
But so many conversations about the Huskies’ accomplishment begin with a preface, a hedge, a “yeah, but …” Something that makes it clear that what the Huskies are doing shouldn’t be compared with what UCLA did, that it’s less worthy.
The Huskies are about to win more games in a row than anyone in the history of NCAA college basketball. And we’ve come to the part where the “merit” of the achievement has to become part of the discussion.
Because this is women’s basketball.
Because this is women’s basketball, it will be regarded as less-than-equal to UCLA’s achievement. Because it’s women’s basketball, it’s simply regarded as less.
The derision is old hat to those of us who have covered women’s basketball for a long time, to those of us who have opened emails and read message-board comments that express absolute disdain for the women’s game, listened to radio talk show hosts ridicule the game and its players.
I’ve heard the hostility. I’ve never completely understood it.
Go read the whole thing. It’s worth it.
I hope I get to watch this game. Since it’s is only airing on ESPNU and ESPN3.com, ESPN’s third-tier programming stations, I may not get to. I really can’t believe it. I mean, if #1 ranked Duke were about to match UCLA’s 1974 record, do you think it would be playing on ESPNU or on ESPN proper? That’s a no-brainer, I know.
I’m pretty steamed about it. It seems like a little thing in the larger context of life, but I feel like, do I have to get smacked in the face everyday with the fact that we aren’t taken seriously because we’re women? It’s death by a thousand emotional cuts. Ugh.
Anyway, I’ve written a polite letter asking the folks at ESPN to please change their minds and put this game in historic context, and to make it available to the millions of fans who want to see it, but may be unable to if their market does not carry ESPNU. Here’s a contact link if you want to add your voice to the chorus.
If I do get to watch, I will of course be commenting via Twitter and probably Facebook. Tip off is 2:00 p.m. Go Huskies!