By Ashleigh Sargent
UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma believes the women’s hoops should be lowered seven inches from the standard 10-foot height (or 7.2 inches for 1972 when Title IX passed).
Why? He says lower rims would yield greater offensive production – more scoring — and more fans for the women’s game.
He might have a point, but as a female collegiate player, I disagree.
On the surface, Coach Auriemma makes a valid argument. A lower rim would spur more scoring, higher shooting percentages, and more play above the rim. Some sports, like volleyball, use different net heights for women (and children) than for men. Some might argue that lowering the rim would promote equality by giving women (who are, on average – and “average” is always a tricky word, slightly shorter) the same scoring opportunity as men. More offense, the thinking goes, equals more popularity – and ticket sales.
Still, I don’t buy the arguments.
Attendance at NCAA women’s basketball games last season was the most ever – 11.2 million – and continued a run of five consecutive seasons with attendance over the 11 million mark. Players like Brittany Griner break stereotypes about the limits of the female body. And last season when the NCAA moved the women’s three-point line back to match the men’s line, shooting percentages remained largely unaffected.
Female players at all levels have risen to challenges over and over again. The game gets faster, stronger, and more athletic every year. I look forward to watching the NCAA women’s basketball games this season and being impressed by new talent, new plays, and new skills.
People are watching and those fans appreciate the women’s game precisely because it doesn’t lean on show-boating, trick shots, or dunks. There is offense and defense, and an emphasis on fundamental basketball.
Promotion of the women’s game should not focus on all the ways we are like men. Lowering the rim seven inches would be a step backwards in women’s quest for equality in sports. I’m glad Coach Auriemma is thinking about strategies to promote the women’s game. But lowering standards for women is not the way to win fans.
We’ve proven already: We’re better than that.