Last month ended the hype of March Madness. As many know by now, the UConn Women’s basketball team made history and broke records when they beat Syracuse in the championship game. Of course, as a Husky I was very excited. But for some reason, UConn WBB’s success and dominance sparked some controversy and disdain for them in the game of women’s basketball.
It all started with Dan Shaughnessy’s tweet.
Now if UConn WBB had had a PR team, they would be thanking Mr. Shaughnessy. A simple Google search on the topic will show just how many people took to the internet, radio, TV and social media to debate his statement. Because of his tweet, countless conversation and awareness was drove to this team. And maybe to his dismay, most of the conversation was overwhelmingly negative towards him and positive towards UConn.
Now I’m not just drawing attention to the negative comments or the team’s dominance or Dan Shaughnessy’s PR stunt. The piece that really makes this worth talking about is its parallel.
In the 60s/70s UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden won ten national championship titles, seven of which were consecutive. People are complaining that UConn won four consecutively. It struck me that when men are dominant in a field, people celebrate; but when it comes to women being dominant in a field, people complain.
During UCLA’s ten-year stretch, no one ever thought that UCLA was ruining men’s basketball. To this day people commemorate John Wooden and reference the UCLA team he coached. But people are quick to complain that the UConn women are ruining women’s basketball. Numerous commentators and journalists were quick to jump to UConn’s defense, many highlighting other great successes in comparison.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas addressed the irrational complaints exactly this way. During an ESPN segment in response to Shaughnessy’s comment, Bilas stated, “So you’re bored with UConn, let me ask you something. Mozart make you drowsy? The pyramids send you to your pillow? Tom Brady makes you tired? Not crazy about Picasso, does that bore you? If you find it boring to watch prolonged excellence that goes beyond just about any measure of dominance in sports, then you might want to get used to it. Because while you might say you’re tired of watching it, UConn sure doesn’t look tired of doing it.”
Pulled into a different light, people are forced to see the parallels of their complaints against UConn. And for many women, I’m sure they’ve noticed that all the parallels are to men, which I think again touches on the larger problem within these complaints.
Why are we still complaining about successful women? On UConn’s campus, women are inspired and empowered by being amongst the most successful college athletes in the country. Being amongst successful, driven women should be something to celebrate and acknowledge, not something to complain about.