Earlier this week, a tempest in a spittoon erupted when Boston Globe columnist, Dan Shaugnessy, suggested that the dominance of UConn women’s basketball was not good for the sport. To the surprise of exactly no one, UConn women’s coach, Geno Auriemma, took umbrage and said that the dominance of Tiger Woods for about a decade did not hurt golf but that it did create an environment into which there evolved a lot of really good golfers named something other than Tiger Woods. To get in a final dig, Auriemma added:
“There are a lot better writers than Dan Shaugnessy. But that doesn’t mean he’s bad for the game.”
As is often the case, both of the folks involved here are partially correct. Auriemma is correct that his team is good for women’s basketball because they attract some viewers who might not ever think of watching women’s basketball just to see how good these women – the ones who are dominating every team that takes the court with them – can be. In addition, there are plenty of examples in “sports history” where the presence of a truly dominant team adds to a following for the sport just because some folks are devout front-runners and bandwagoners while other people cannot wait to see the giant slain. So, Auriemma has a point…
At the same time – using me as an example – I only watch the UConn women once or twice a year for the simple reason that whenever I tune in, the game is a blowout and blowouts are not fun to watch. Then, after I have seen what UConn can do, the next time I tune into a women’s game I am sort of “disappointed” because neither team on my TV set can play at anything like the level of play I saw fleetingly in my UConn-viewing. So, I am not attracted to women’s basketball any more today than I was yesterday. So, Dan Shaughnessy has a point…
In case you think I am over-stating the degree of dominance for the UConn women’s team, consider these stats from this season;
UConn won its first 4 games this season by 40 points or more.
Then in game 5 they won by 16 and in game 6 they won by only 10.
After game 6 they won 18 games by 39 points or more.
Only twice has their margin of victory been as small as 10 points.
Sorry, but when UConn is dominating an opponent on its way to a 107-45 win (over Cincy back on December 30) or on its way to a 106-51 win (over UCF back on January 20), I lose interest and go looking for something else to watch. I am not suggesting that everyone’s viewing habits or tastes are the same as mine – if that were the case there would be no MMA or poker on TV – but I can understand Dan Shaugnessy’s criticism here. At the same time, I can understand why Geno Auriemma did not take that sort of commentary all that well.
In another women’s basketball happening – this one far down the ladder from the position UConn occupies – Prairie View A&M fired coach Dawn Brown after the coach suspended two of her players earlier this year for dating – – one another. The players claim they were discriminated against based on their sexual preference; Brown says she is the injured party here because the school’s Title IX administrator knew of the situation and “approved” the suspensions. I will be shocked if this matter does not wind up in a court to determine if this firing is appropriate under all of the prevailing circumstances.
Let me say this:
Dawn Brown’s record at Prairie View A&M was 13-15 this last season and it has been 41-51 over her 3-year tenure there. If in that 92-game span, her teams’ record had been 89-3, I suspect there might be a very different vibe surrounding this situation.
Based on a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the sportsbooks there are rooting for someone to beat Syracuse next weekend. Here are two items from a report earlier this week:
“In early January, according to Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay, four wagers, including one for $100, were placed on Syracuse at 1,000-1 odds to win the NCAA championship.”
“Two weeks ago, after the Orange slipped into the field of 68 as a No. 10 seed — much to the dismay of bracketology gurus and CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb — the Westgate posted Syracuse at 300-1 to win the title and William Hill posted 400-1 odds.
“’Just a couple tickets at that number, no major dollars,’ [the William Hill director] said. ‘But Syracuse is our worst result.’”
Looking at that situation from the point of view of the bettor and not the sportsbook, consider for a moment that you were the person who put down $100 on Syracuse to win the NCAA championship when the odds were 1000-1. Now imagine that Syracuse bests UNC on Saturday night in the semi-final game. Question:
Would you let the bet ride as it is and go for the entire $100K winnings – or –
Would you “hedge” and bet the opponent to win in the final game such that you take home “something” instead of possibly “nothing”?
Since I will not be the person in that position, let me say that I would “hedge” the bet just a bit and be sure that I took home a nice chunk of change.
Finally, here is an item from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald that relates to women’s intercollegiate athletics and to the travesty of the NCAA continuing to refer to “student-athletes”:
“The Creighton softball team returned to Omaha after a 24-game road trip. Christopher Columbus and Lewis and Clark weren’t gone that long.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………