NCAA: A Woman's Place

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How about this scenario to round out Women’s History Month?  The trivia question…..In 1984, who was the first woman to appear on the cover of a Wheaties Box.  Mary Lou Retton was the answer…yet it was the conversation it triggered that lingered…

   Me:  A woman wasn’t on the cover until 1984?

   Teammate:  Oh that was a long time ago, over 30 years, what’s the matter?

   Me:  The issue lies on the front end….there were great female athletes to choose from prior to 1984.  What does that look like---pick males from the so-so category before you select a woman, period?!  Come on….

To be clear, I’m not saying that average male athletes were chosen…my recollection of Wheaties box covers is muddy at best.  What is clear though, is there were several female athletes that were eligible candidates well before the teenage gymnastics dynamo deservedly graced the cover…of a cereal box that has been around since 1924!

Tennis immediately comes to mind…Althea Gibson, Billie Jean King & Chris Evert…in that order!

Now let’s make a quick jump from 1984 to more recent history, Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of 2016 specifically. For his many accomplishments, selecting LeBron James made perfect sense!  Breanna Stewart….with her perfect 4-0 championships….one for every year she played for the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies made even more so!!

Speaking of the Lady Huskies….thanks to a win streak of one hundred plus games the chatter of it becoming boring is well underway.  Full Disclosure Part One:  When watching UConn’s games, I commit to viewing until the inevitable onslaught occurs…..after sheer amazement fades, it does become boring to me.  The obvious response to the chatter though is….did folks feel the same when instead of Geno & the Lady Huskies it was a John Wooden led UCLA Bruins team dominating college ball for what seemed like an eternity?  The fact that Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won more championships than games lost…3 rings to 2 losses….is remarkably mind blowing!!  Somehow, I doubt it. Instead, I’m willing to bet, bets were made on who would ultimately be the team to slay the giant.  In that spirit, I’ve opted to do the same with UConn.  Undoubtedly it will happen…wasn’t that long ago it appeared as if no team would get beyond Pat Summit’s...a phenom in her own right...Lady Volunteers of The University of Tennessee. At this very moment though…the answer to the question of who will be THAT team to UConn is a very educated ummm, I don’t know!!

I do know this...Full Disclosure Part Two:  a week or so ago, my son…who like most teenage boys with love for the game, has better “handles” than insert NBA player here—according to him….& I went to the neighborhood basketball court to talk while shooting hoops.  I’ve long said the 3 pointer from the side, without benefit of a backboard, looks like the most challenging of all…and it was!  After missing the first 3 or 4 attempts, a declaration was made that we would not leave until I made it!  The struggle was undeniably real!  As was shagging missed balls, by the way!  It only took less than 20 shots but more than 10…felt like delirium begin to get the best of me…and we were able to make it home before dark—thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time!

The Lady Huskies….and female athletes as a whole…..have always had my respect.  Yet, the experience at the court brought into focus the bias based chatter surrounding these ladies…to that I say “I am truly in awe”  and can only imagine the positive impact you’re having on young girls far & wide!!  Play on ladies, play on!

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