02 April 2007

It’s time to be real about Women’s Basketball

If you have any intention of watching ESPN tonight to find quality sports programming, I have two words for you: Good Luck.

That’s because the Worldwide Leader is going all out for the NCAA Women’s Championship game between Tennessee and Rutgers. And when I say all out – I mean all out. ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, ESPNU, ESPN360, ESPN International (Women’s college hoops in 112 countries – are you shitting me!), ESPNNEWS, ESPN Radio, and ESPN.com are all devoting their Tuesday night to see who is the best Women’s Amateur Basketball team in the land. Let’s just hope ESPN Classic is showing American Gladiators again.

This is all great except for that fact that only two groups of people care about Women’s Basketball:

(1) Senior Citizens in Connecticut

(2) (some) 12-year-old girls

Unless Depends and Metamucil are pouring in more sponsors to the ESPN coffers that I realize, this is just ridiculous. And, for those of you who think I’m living in 1950, I also want to dispel some myths about the Women’s game:

(1) The Women’s NCAA Tournament makes money: Actually, the Women’s NCAA Tournament (despite help from ESPN) does not make money and the vast majority of Women’s Basketball programs do not make money. You see the crowds at some of these games? Let’s just say you can sit pretty close to the action if that is your thing.

(2) Women watch Women’s Basketball: If you have a free moment, ask a girl you know if she watches Women’s Basketball. Unless she played in high school or college (and many of those even don’t), the answer is very likely going to be no. I mean, seriously, do you know one girl who that can name more than one player on a WNBA or Women’s NCAA team unless she knows them personally? I think not.

(3) ESPN broadcasts the thing for purely business reasons: I don’t know why ESPN does what they do for this, but I guess it has to do with the contract it has with the NCAA and/or trying to be politically correct. For a company that has a pretty bad track record when it comes to sexual harassment, this is not a bad idea.

(4) We should put Women’s basketball on a pedestal so that girls can also have the dream of becoming a pro or major college athlete: Don’t mistake me for a sexist or Title IX hater here. I think girls should be encouraged to play sports for a variety of reasons. But playing soccer in high school and having the dream of “going pro” are two completely different concepts. While you may say that then we are denying girls from birth the chance to be in the sports spotlight, but the reality is that 99% of guys are denied that from birth because of their genetics as well. Most people don’t think of that when considering the need that they believe exists to give women “sports dreams.” Putting women’s basketball (and soccer for that matter) on a pedestal than you would think. The last thing we need in society is more people wanting to become pro athletes.

But, despite my ranting, Women’s Hoops is not going away anytime soon. So, in spite of the situation, here are a couple ideas to improve the game:

(1) Make the telecasts less like “Super Tuesday” and more like “The Hills.”: As I discussed earlier, Women’s do not watch Women’s Basketball. But they do watch “The Hills” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Instead of trying to pass Women’s hoops off as sports entertainment, the NCAA should let MTV or VH1 take a team or two and make their season into a reality show. If girls knew about the player’s relationships and the hit guys on the guy’s basketball team they were dating, maybe then they would watch.

(2) Play up the fact that there are “gay” teams and “straight” teams: There have been rumors that there are certain college teams attract certain sexual preferences for years, and the recent news from coaches of LSU (gay) and Penn State (straight) make me seem to believe that this is actually true. Well, if it is, let’s bring it to the forefront! This would bring an angle to the broadcasts that men’s hoops could not.

I might not be David Stern, but I’m sure tonight ratings would be a lot higher if they started doing this like the above. As for me, I would much rather spend this evening making out with the girl rather than watching one play basketball. And I think Pokey Chapman would agree.

11 comments:

This Suit Is Not Black said...

Sadly, tho, even those senior citizens won't be watching, as UConn is out.

Anonymous said...

The Women's final four does well in the ratings which is why ESPN is hyping it. In fact it will get a higher rating then the debut of Sunday night baseball as it has over the past few years. Take a look at the numbers since 2001.

http://sportsmediawatch.blogspot.com/2007/04/debunking-myth.html

Anonymous said...

You know a sport is in trouble when you say how great the ratings of its championship games are because they are slightly higher than those for the 5th or 6th game on the mlb schedule.

Women's basketball is boring compared to the men's game. And no pr campaign by the wwl or federal government action is going to change that.

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