Several months back, the sports world, well I should say people interested in women’s sports, were all in a tizzy when the head coach of University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball Team, Gino Auriemma, suggested that in order to attract more fans/viewers of women’s basketball, the rim needed to be lowered about 7in. (Read his comments here) As you can imagine, and though he was not the first to make this suggestion, people’s opinions ranged from variations “that’s the worst idea ever,” to “yes, that’ll save women’s basketball,” and everything in between. After a discussion about this very topic with a coworker just last week, I decided to share my two cents.
While I am not diametrically opposed to or wholeheartedly in support of lowering the rim, I do think that less drastic and less controversial things could be done to improve the level of play and interest in the game of women’s basketball. As a caveat, you won’t find my usual lawyerly citations in this post because, in the words Jigga Man, “It’s just my thoughts, people.”
In no particular order, here are three factors I think can be improved upon to make women’s basketball more enjoyable to watch:
Fitness: If you are a player who is in-shape, or a coach whose players are in-shape; you won’t be offended by this suggestion. If however, you are an out-of-shape player or coach with a team full of out-of-shape ladies, I hope you are so offended that you’re inspired to run a mile or two…or three. One of the differences that I have noticed (especially on the collegiate level) between men’s and women’s basketball is the level of fitness. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of ladies playing Division-I basketball who could (dare I say) stand to drop some pounds of fat and build some pounds of muscle. I realize that weight and women is often a touchy subject, but to be a serious athlete, you have to be in-shape. Not only does fitness allow players to provide an intense level of play, but it also legitimizes the sport. People aren’t going to take you too seriously if the game their watching has a center, for example, who is huffing and puffing, dragging her feet and playing subpar ball because she’s not in shape.
Officiating: Referees in every sport are given a hard time, but I think we may need to give refs who officiate women’s basketball an even harder time. The number of women’s games that I’ve seen with subpar officiating is really unacceptable. I know it’s a tough job, but the level of officiating in the women’s game needs to be improved to match the level of officiating in the men’s game. The integrity of the game and the support of fans depend on it. Fans don’t want to walk out of a game feeling that the refs missed numerous calls that could have affected the outcome of the game. Remember the NFL referee strike??
Parity: I won’t go into too much detail on this factor (because I’ll be blogging about it tomorrow, so stay tuned) but, in short, more fans will watch if they feel like they won’t know who will win.
That’s it, my quick and dirty factors could be improved upon to improve women’s basketball before we even think about lowering the rim.
So do you feel the rim should be lowered for women’s basketball?
Cecelia is a former Division I tennis player for Howard University. She is a graduate of UCLA Law and co-founder and co-owner of Omni Sports Agency LLC. Follow her and her blog on Twitter @SportyEsquire and @GladiatHers as she talks about Women and Sports.