Tuesday, April 05, 2011
All's fair in feminism and basketball
(I'm not really sure exactly how that title is going to fit with the rest of the post, but I liked the way it sounded, so I am going with it.) So, in case you didn't know, men's intercollegiate basketball has its own tournament. It culminated last night in a final game between University of Connecticut and Butler University. Sure UConn has won the title three previous times, but this year they were only a #3 seed and Butler was a #8. The numerous upsets caused much disturbance in fans' brackets this year, so I can't imagine many people tuned in to watch this final game, which unfortunately aired at 9:30 on the east coast (which everyone knows is the bestest time zone!). And frankly, they didn't miss much. I think it's time we talk seriously about the inferiority of the men's game. Does the dunk and fancy schmancy above the rim play really compensate for lack of shooting skills so evident in last night's game? I mean, the score at the half was 22-19 (Butler). And the final score: 53-41 (UConn). Butler's field goal percentage: 19. UConn's: 34. Butler's three-point%: 27, which looks pretty good next to UConn's 9. As the great Mikhail Baryshnikov has said (repeated by Dakota Fanning's character in Uptown Girls): Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun. The lack of fundamentals in this game indeed resulted in no fun--for fans at least, and I would imagine the looks of consternation on the faces of the coaches indicated similar "this is no fun" feelings. Thank goodness the women are playing tonight! And on that note, USA Today's Christine Brennan wrote a column today on Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, calling him the greatest feminist at the Final Four. While I said yesterday that I am intrigued by Blair and supportive of his positive coaching style, I think we're getting a little carried away. I mean just because this white guy is gentler and saner than say that other white male coach who didn't make it to the championship game this year...it doesn't make him a feminist. Yes, Blair is honest and forthright about the need for a sellout crowd for this tournament and growing fans and making people see the excitement in women's basketball. (I would also argue that his ability to make such statements, just as Auriemma has the ability to make "honest and forthright" statements, is part of his white male privilege. I think it's a lot harder for a female coach to chastise fans--unless you're Nancy Lieberman who isn't currently coaching--and not get called out for being bitchy or unappreciative of what you've got.) And I am glad that he says that women's and men's sports at A&M get equally supported, but that's just rhetoric until someone shows me how that actually works. Blair might get an award for being a nice guy and it's cool that he's all about reading and going to movies (he would probably be a big hit on Match.com with a profile like that) but that doesn't make him a feminist. And this is not to say that he isn't--it's just that Brennan's description of, again, the very affable Blair, doesn't really display any feminist credentials.