Basketball – Which Final Four, and does it matter?

Womens_Final_Four_Tickets___2014_NCAA_Womens_Final_Four_Tickets___PrimeSportThe 2014 March Madness for college basketball has now passed, and now all that is left is the Final Four events for both women and men!  I happen to be at the University of Connecticut this week, of course celebrating the occasion with a host of other avid UConn basketball fans!  For those not following this madness, the rare occurrence of both the men and the women’s basketball teams from one school – in this case UConn of course – are

UConn

UConn

going to their respective Final Four tournaments.  This is very exciting on a number of levels, one being the simple rarity of this convergence.  The UConn women were not only expected to reach the Final Four, but are slightly favored to win the championship.  The men, on the other hand, were not expected to even reach the Final Four, so the suspense related to their performance in the Final Four is very intense!  The men’s coach is a former UConn player, who has never before coached a Final Four team!  The women’s coach has been at UConn for over 30 years, and if the women win the Championship, this will be his 9th national championship (a record!).  But despite these contrasts that are interesting, there are other contrasts that draw my attention, as an avid UConn women’s basketball fan, in a

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

kind of yin/yang way.

I blogged about the challenges of  homophobia in sports in general on my LavenderHealth blog on Monday.  But even today, signs of the persisting disparity in sports based on gender landed in my Inbox in the form of message from the UConn President, Susan Herbst (the first woman President!!). Her message acknowledged the excitement of both teams going to their Final Four Tournaments, urged everyone to “celebrate responsibly,” and included this information:

The university will open up Gampel Pavilion on Saturday, April 5, to all UConn students, so that you can watch the televised men’s game live with one another here on campus. The doors will open at 5:00pm. The game will begin shortly after 6:00pm and will be projected onto large screens that will be visible throughout most of Gampel.

Sunday’s women’s game will also be shown live on campus in the Student Union Theatre. Doors will open at 8:00pm and the game begins at 8:30pm.

Even without knowing anything about the UConn campus, I believe that you can detect the  disparity here.  Of course, everyone “knows” that the audience for the women’s game will

Stanford

Stanford

not be as large as the audience of the men .. right?  Are you sure?  The women’s team has commanded a fan base for years that matches or exceeds that of the men’s team.  And, if you plan for a smaller audience, are you not creating that reality in advance?

Then there is the matter of finding these games on television.  For this tournament that problem is a bit simpler because there are only 3 games for each.  But still, they are listed on the TV schedule as “College Basketball” and “Women’s College Basketball.”  When someone says “I am going to the Final Four” the assumption is that they are going to the men’s tournament. This is more than annoying .. it is symbolic of a lasting disparity that is sustained by the language we use.

So to me it does matter which Final Four we mean.  Karen and I will be watching both the men and the women tournaments.  But we cannot help but notice so many contrasts – some of which represent real progress for women (for example, 3 of the 4 teams in the women’s Final Four have women head coaches!).  All the while, it is important to be mindful of ways to address the disparities that persist  – one way is by our actions .. tuning in to the women’s games, talking

Maryland

Maryland

about the amazing emergence of women’s sports and what it means for so many young women as they are discovering their personal and collective strength and power.  This women’s tournament will be amazing .. there are two undefeated teams in the Tournament – UConn and Notre Dame!  One team will walk away with their winning streak broken, but all the young women on all of the teams competing this year have broken amazing barriers by just being there, for developing their athletic skills, and devoting their energies to inspiring other girls and women as their careers have unfolded!  So I cheer them all, even though for now I have to close with this … go UConn!

 

 

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About peggychinn

feminist, nurse activist, writer, editor of ANS Advances in Nursing Science, quilter, grandmother nurturing the future of the amazing children in my life.
This entry was posted in Making change, Social Issues, women's basketball and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Basketball – Which Final Four, and does it matter?

  1. Joe Franklin says:

    You have worked so tirelessly and are to be commended. Of course, most in our family are ignorant and it has been “tough to swallow” for a life-time. Today is not one of my good days although physical therapy is building endurance and balance since strokes. I am really ready for the crematory but that is not my call! Joyce is still the same and has amazed Hospice. JoAnn is worse but continues to work for Deen Day Sanders and controlling the several entities. Bob’s condition is worsening and will not be permitted to drive within a few weeks. The doctor will take his car keys so that JoAnn doesn’t have to cope . . . he is getting verbally abusive. Julian has heart problems but arrangements are made to pick him up in helicopter from off the mountain for Missions Hospital in Asheville when another episode occurs. I appreciate you and wish you the best. Cuz Joe

    • peggychinn says:

      So great to hear from you, Joe! Thanks noticing this blog post … we may not live to see the day when the Tatum clan is able to accept this, but lots of things have changed over the years and I am very hopeful for the future!! I am so glad we connected!

  2. peggychinn says:

    Exactly! There are situations when gender matters and when it does not. Nurses are not segregated by gender .. all nurses – women and men – are nurses, period. We do not need a gender distinction there. But in sports, men and women are segregated – in most sports now baed on profiles of body size, structure and strength. So we all need to know when sport we are tuning in to at any partiular time .. men or women. I can foresee a day when there will be athletes of both genders on the same teams, particularly at the professional levels, where body stature (height for example) matters more than which gender the body happens to express. But for young college students, the gender divide provides an opportunity for young women to develop athletic skills (beyond just physical abilities to play a game) that would not otherwise be possible. Thanks for adding this dimension to the discussion. Tom!!!

  3. We in Gainesville, FL are preparing for the challenge you pose on Saturday.

    As to: “But still, they are listed on the TV schedule as “College Basketball” and “Women’s College Basketball.”

    Try slipping into the role of being a male nurse. No other profession’s members continue to describe the members of their profession in patently sexist, exclusionary language to the same degree as nurses describe nurses as “women”, “she”, “her”…

    This is 2014 – nursing often seems stuck fighting battles from 1964 while entirely new challenges and opportunities go unnoticed.

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