Last night, the UConn men’s basketball team made history and won the NCAA National Championship title against Butler. This was a significant feat for quite a few reasons: Jim Calhoun is now the oldest coach to lead a team to this honorable victory; UConn has joined the ranks of teams like UCLA and DUKE by holding three national titles; all of my hometown friends have the opportunity to gloat over their school’s well deserved defeat.
Even though I’ll bleed orange until my last breath, I was ultimately happy to see my home state pull this off. I wasn’t thrilled to see my competition beat us in the Big East Tournament, but it’s difficult not to respect a team who won 11 straight games and proved that it truly was their year. I followed every single game of the March Madness tournament, and that’s where the problem starts.
The NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament doesn’t receive nearly as much airtime, press, or attention; it’s simply not a social norm among my group of friends, at least, or anyone I know for that matter. None of my friends gather together to watch women’s games, I rarely hear dialogue from dudes around female statistics and notable plays, and if I have to hear from the mouth of one more boy, “The only good women’s team is UConn, the rest suck,” I’ll probably scream. The UConn women are indeed amazing, but they’re sure as hell not the only talented women basketball players.
There are some who are trying to break the mold, however. My good friend from high school, Lacey Mazzilli, is a UConn cheerleader and had the choice of going on the road with the men’s or women’s basketball team. She elected to follow the UConn women all the way to the final four, her logic being the women had a better chance of going further and she’d be able to witness history. Despite their insane undefeated record of 90 consecutive wins, making college (men’s and women’s) basketball history, they weren’t able to beat Notre Dame in the 2011 Final Four. Lacey had the right idea though, when she chose to attend the women’s games over men’s, but she can’t be the only one making these kinds of important decisions. The rest of us crazy sports fans need to follow suit.
The audience disparity for men’s and women’s college basketball is disappointing, especially when apparently the women are responsible for breaking serious records and creating history. It’s people like me, however, who complicate this issue by breeding hypocrisy. I continue to watch men’s basketball and not pay as much attention to women’s basketball. My only defense is that there simply isn’t as much news and media surrounding the women’s league when compared to that of men’s. Regardless, I’m part of the problem; I’m perpetuating this cycle.
The 2011 college basketball season will officially come to a close tonight in Indianapolis when the Notre Dame women’s team challenges Texas A&M. It’s a little late for me to pledge allegiance to women’s college basketball with only one game left this year, but I will watch tonight’s game in support of my fellow females. Some females who, may I add, have way more skill than a lot of dude ballers. I also encourage everyone to be aware of this sucky reality and start watching more women’s basketball. That’s the beauty of time, there’s always next year!