Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Women's basketball: Don't forget they're still ladies

UNC and Maryland. The rematch of last year's championship game. Soldout crowd on the Terps home turf. UNC ended up getting their revenge, winning 81-74. In a game many see as exemplifying just how far women's basketball has come, a few moments remind us just how different the "rules" are in women athletics.
Some say the game was marked by bad officiating. [Here I should own up to the fact that although I appreciate women's basketball and follow it occasionally, I know very little about the actual game and so cannot really discern the efficacy of the refereeing.] UMD coach Brenda Frese certainly thought so. She was assessed a technical during the first half when she came four feet or so onto the court to scream at the refs.
The commentators (I forget who it was doing the game coverage) noted that the refs were letting Frese know that that kind of behavior was not acceptable in women's basketball. That sideline decorum in the women's game is a must. Would they say that about a male coach? I have seen Geno Auriemma get pretty heated. But let's also consider the sideline decorum in men's basketball where the likes of Bobby Knight (note that the IndianaU president at the time of one of the Knight controversies is current NCAA president Miles Brand) are allowed to coach.
But it was really the written commentary of Mike Wise regarding the faulty officiating that stunned me. Thinking he was supporting UMD's cause against the refs he writes:
[Kristi] Toliver was safer walking across campus at 4 a.m. than she was grabbing a rebound and trying to dribble upcourt before intermission.
That's how bad the officiating was apparently. Worse than the violence of rape and physical assault. It's an offensive analogy and perpetuates the rape culture we live in. And it lets us all know that you may be 5'7", one of the best guards in the country, and a member of a championship team but you are still rapeable. (And I am a little disappointed that Women's Hoops Blog from which I got the link to Wise's column, didn't comment on his offensive and violent analogy.) All women athletes are still rapeable because they are still women. The message I hear is "we let you play but it does not offer you the ultimate entitlement: being free to occupy any space at any time."

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