By Laura Pappano
Obviously, the UConn Women’s Basketball team under coach Geno Auriemma isn’t merely good. They are dominant. Of 20 games played so far, they have won 14 of by more than 30 points (including four by more than 50 points). The closest game was a 12-point win over Stanford.
So what does this mean?
For one thing, grouchy (but observant) Connecticut message-boarders are saying that the games aren’t interesting.
“The first words that come out of people’s mouths are why watch a blowout or why watch when you already know the outcome,” writes one poster, worried about UConn attendance dropping because they’re too good. People are “still UConn fans, but they want to watch a good game, not just a game with a good team anymore.”
Such whiners, however, have a point. And it’s a legitimate point that gets lost when people vehemently argue that people prefer to see guys play (pick the sport) because they may jump higher or run faster that the females who may play that same sport. Not true. People come to see competition. That is why college football has a TV following (as long as the game is tight) when the skill level in the NFL is dramatically higher.
Competition drives the thrill of sport.
A decade (or two) ago, we might have looked at UConn’s dominance as a sign that women’s basketball simply wasn’t there yet. (The old when-will-we-have-parity? prayer). But we have had some years of “parity” (remember Maryland’s 2006 win? A 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kristi Toliver to send the game against Duke into OT?) Baylor took it the year before.
This time is different. There is parity outside of UConn and plenty of fast-paced, exciting play. (Heck, there’s even dunking). But maybe Auriemma’s team could use some different competition. Maybe it’s time to play men. Which division TBD, but in a comparison that (take a breath, guys) I know is not fair, consider how the Huskies – men and women – stack up against one another in stats so far this season: