Thursday, December 30, 2010

Apples, meet oranges

I was browsing through my list of sports-related websites this morning during an unbelievably slow day at work when I found this article over at ESPN. I decided I'd dust off the ol' sports blog to make a few points.

First of all, I don't view the UConn women's basketball team's streak of 89 wins as a particularly good thing for women's basketball. When you look at the scores of their games and the talent they have on their roster, it makes a very obvious point about the lack of competition in the sport. The best women in the world play for UConn. Their bench players would start anywhere else, as would the ladies they leave in the stands for games. Much like the oft-publicized brain drain in the IT world, all the top talent flows to UConn and then into the WNBA. They have no competition.

And we're lauding this as a good thing?

If anything, the winning streak should prove that the sport is nonviable. When a single team dominates opponents for this long in professional sports, leagues start implementing salary caps and revenue sharing. I have a hard time imagining anything more boring than attending a UConn game. The team is up 45-9 at halftime and wins by over 40 points. Where's the competition? Where's the suspense, the drama, the interest? How can anyone possibly claim that UConn is good for women's basketball?

Then, of course, we have the inevitable comparisons between the men's and women's game. Make no mistake: most men's high school teams would crush UConn. That's not a knock on their talent, but the sport they play is fundamentally different from men's basketball. The ball is smaller, the three-point line is closer, the players are often well below 6 feet tall, and the talent pool is minuscule. While comparing the UConn team to a men's team is a thought-provoking exercise, it diminishes the achievements of both sexes while damaging women's athletics as a whole. Much like a great college football team draws interest in a matchup with a bad NFL team, there is no question that the Bengals would maul USC while playing practice squad players.

All of this rambling boils down to my desire to stop hearing UConn coach Geno Auriemma stop complaining about how his team's accomplishments are incomparable while simultaneously making comparisons to the UCLA teams of the 1980's. It is not the same sport.


Interestingly enough, I do have a couple comments about the Angels despite an overly quiet offeseason:
  • From HH, this article shows that fans of the Phillies are willing to spend more to put a winning team on the field. While I agree in principle, I think the Angels have struck a good balance. If they can consistently make the crapshoot playoffs while keeping ticket prices low, I'd prefer that to turning into the Yankees. The major problem with sports, and perhaps life, is that a win never feels as good as a loss feels bad. Drawing that line is up to Arte Moreno, but he keeps spouting off about wanting a championship. Maybe he needs to spend some more money. Or, better yet, hire a GM who will spend the money he has wisely.
  • Adrian Beltre has no other options. Don't do anything stupid.

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