Basketball, Columnists, Sports

CUMMINGS: W. basketball deserves more attention

The BU women’s basketball team just won their seventh game in a row. Did you know anything about the women’s basketball team until you just read that sentence?

Alanna Cummings | By Michelle Simunovic, DFP Staff

I’m not exactly the biggest follower of women’s sports. Yes, I’m a female, so that makes me much more naturally inclined to watch members of my own sex competing in a sport, but to be completely honest, devoting time to my three professional sports teams (and their rivals) is exhausting enough; I don’t think I could repeat that process for three other women’s teams. You try living in Southern California and rooting against the Lakers and Angels. See how long you last with energy to spare.

Another factor? Women’s sports, especially in college, aren’t popular. This isn’t me being a misogynist; it’s just the truth. As such, ESPN won’t air games that no one will watch, so the open-minded sports fanatics who could potentially be interested in watching a women’s college game are never exposed to it, thus completing a vicious cycle of women’s sports going unnoticed.

Want to know why soccer never caught on in the United States? Same reason. We don’t have the attention span to devotedly follow a sport without it being spoon-fed to us by networks such as ESPN, so the “unpopular” sports like soccer or women’s basketball essentially fade into obscurity.

When I got to college two years ago in California, my school wasn’t particularly big on school spirit. I never went to any games, but I wrote for the newspaper and kept up with all the sports teams’ records. Let’s just equate the futility of our women’s sports program to the Cleveland Browns and leave it at that. I’m sure attendance to those women’s games could also be compared to that of the Browns, or any Cleveland team, for that matter.

I figured BU would have a similar problem with women’s athletics: that the “no one cares” attitude that ESPN employs had spread to the rest of the country and made women’s sports somewhat of a footnote on America’s consciousness.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at the BU Athletics website recently and saw that our women’s basketball team is No. 1 and undefeated in America East, and enjoying a seven-game winning streak. Did you know that? I certainly didn’t.

A lot of people who refuse to follow women’s sports say that their boycott is warranted because watching women compete is “boring.” Personally, I think they’re lying. I’ve played sports all my life, and I know for a fact that, in some cases, women’s games are just as exciting as men’s, if not more so. Sports by themselves are the most thrilling theater America has to offer, so why do the genders of the competitors matter?

I’m not trying to put the blame on anyone. After all, ESPN is a business and they think like a business, as they should. Who can really blame them for airing a sporting event that will make them the most money? But that philosophy, of course, means that other deserving sports will get left out.

Earlier in the basketball season, the UConn women’s basketball team pulled off an incredible feat and won 90 games in a row, and in the process broke a 36-year-old record held by the University of California, Los Angeles men’s basketball team for the longest winning streak in the history of the NCAA. The run to break that record was covered by ESPN for a few days until our national attention span grew tired of it, at which point the network moved onto bigger and “better” things.

It’s a shame that it takes the shattering of a 30-year-old record held by a John Wooden-coached team to show America what’s been happening in women’s college basketball for the past few years. I’m not saying BU will pull off the same feat just because they’ve won seven games in a row, but compare the attention they receive to say, the men’s hockey team, which gets national coverage for just existing.

I fully recognize that I’m part of the problem as well. (See: my last four columns about BU men’s hockey. Oops.) I don’t pay nearly as much attention to women’s college sports as I should, and I imagine that many people, like me, don’t have the time or energy to aggressively seek out women’s games when ESPN gives me enough to handle as it is.

But that’s not an excuse. Our own women’s basketball team is a contender for March Madness, but I’m almost positive that no one on campus knows or cares about it. The women who compete in their respective sport work just as hard, if not harder, than men, and they are just as worthy of national praise. Whether their winning streak is at seven games or 90, they deserve our attention.

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