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Western Courier

UConn is the staple for women’s sports

Mat McClanahan

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American sports have seen many dominant performances from their athletes. Michael Phelps dominated the Olympics, Serena Williams held the number-one seed in tennis for a record-setting span, the Golden State Warriors broke the regular season wins record and the most dominant performance sports viewers have seen in the last decade is the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.

The Huskies’ 111 straight wins ended last week after a loss to Mississippi State. However, during that span of games, many questions arose about whether their dominance was good for the sport of women’s basketball. The answer to that question is simple, Connecticut’s overpowering wins, myriad of championships and blue collar work ethic has made women’s basketball a staple in the sports world.

Prior to the Huskies dominance, Pat Summit, the former University of Tennessee head coach, helped put women’s basketball on the map. Without the help of Summit, women’s basketball would have been irrelevant. She holds the record for most wins in NCAA history (1,098) and also has lead the Volunteers to eight NCAA national championships. With all of that being said, UConn is not the first dynasty in women’s basketball, just the most dominant.

The head coach for Connecticut is Geno Auriemma. Auriemma has one of the best, if not the best, resume in coaching history; he is the common denominator for the Huskies’ success. Auriemma has lead the Huskies to 11 NCAA titles. Prior to this season, Connecticut has won four straight national championships.

Now, just to realize how dominant the Huskies were during the team’s 111-game win streak they have had: 108 double digit wins, 80 consecutive wins in the American Conference, 61 victories by 40 or more points and two national championships. Without all of these record-shattering numbers, women’s basketball would unfailingly take a backseat to men’s basketball.

As an avid sports viewer, I love to see the dominance from such a team. Women’s basketball is at a distinct disadvantage because of the size of the average woman; it makes for a less flashy game. In a women’s game, fans will not see high flying dunks, alley-oops or chasedown blocks, but they will see pure jump-shots, crisp passes and good fundamental basketball that only a true basketball fan can appreciate. With the winning streak on the line every night, it makes up for the lack of spectacle for the fake sports fans. Every night Connecticut plays, there is already tension built up because every fan is wondering if they will continue their win streak.

Not only is this good for fake sports fans, but it is also good for girls who want to pursue basketball or any sport. If a little girl turns on a television to a sport channel and only sees men playing, it sends a subliminal message that basketball is not for girls. When Connecticut wins and they are the lead story on ESPN, it gives a sense of hope to all female athletes. The WNBA is not regularly aired, so women’s college basketball is the next best thing. It gives girls a star that they can look up to. Men have it easy, the NBA gets all the coverage a fan could want. Boys can look up to professional players like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook or Steph Curry; girls do not have that luxury. College players become girls’ idols, which is all the more reason to love UConn.

Now the question is, does Connecticut’s loss hurt women’s basketball? Absolutely not. In a way, it builds the tension even more. Their loss was the number-one story on ESPN for two days straight. That is a lot more TV time for women’s basketball than normal. It is only a building block or opening for the next dynasty.

However, a team so powerful does not work in men’s sports. In 2014, the University of Kentucky made a push for a perfect season and they became the villain to a lot of sports fans. Everyone wanted Kentucky to lose and every team wanted to be the one to knock them off. Men’s basketball is flashy enough it does not need any extra motivation or backstory to get air time.

Come next basketball season, the lead story will be if Connecticut can get back on track. After their fall from dominance, it also gives hope to other teams; UConn is human and they can lose. In the long run, this will make women’s basketball more competitive and better for every sports fan. Women’s sports are on the rise. Every woman, regardless of sport, should be appreciative of the University of Connecticut for breaking barriers for women in sports.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “UConn is the staple for women’s sports”

  1. jerry stewart on April 10th, 2017 6:57 pm

    This article is spoken with very much truth, Geno is a coach of the very top of coaches, his players have to have credit for putting a lot hard practices and they have nothing to be ashamed of on the final four hold your heads high the coach and the players, we’ll be there to watch more and back you and other female players!!! jer

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  2. Marcus on April 11th, 2017 6:42 am

    No one will beat UConn next season or the next couple of seasons. Everyone returns besides Chong (took the worst shot in WBB history) and UConn adds Azura Stevens plus the top high school player, Megan Walker and 3 other 5 star players.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
UConn is the staple for women’s sports