WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
TODAY'S CARDINAL COUPLE IS FROM COLUMNIST SANDY WALKER. ALTHOUGH SHE
HAS BEEN ON HIATUS RECENTLY FROM REGULAR COLUMN CONTRIBUTIONS...SHE WAS
WITH US IN THE BEGINNING AND STILL STAYS IN TOUCH WITH THE STAFF VIA E-MAILS.
SHE HAS ALWAYS PROVIDED US WITH A GENUINE AND CLEAR DESCRIPTION OF HER POSITION ON VARIOUS ISSUES AND WE GREATLY APPRECIATE TODAY'S OBSERVATION.
WE HAVE CHOSEN TO RUN HER COMMENTARY IN ITS ENTIRETY AND WELCOME YOUR RESPONSES AND DISCUSSION OF IT IN OUR COMMENTS SECTION OR BY E-MAIL TO US AT:
WITH NO FURTHER ADIEU, HERE'S SANDY'S PIECE:
As a lifelong player, coach and supporter of women’s basketball it is without pleasure that I predict that without a change, history will show this decade to be looked upon as the coming of another dark age in collegiate women's basketball. I fear that its growth in popularity will show stagnation due to the continued disparity between the University of Connecticut and the remaining teams. I truly believe that it is not good for the game as fans do not continue watching contests which are blow outs game after game and year after year. It also has become increasingly difficult to justify the situation to potential when trying to attract new fans. We can point out that the “one and done” of the men’s game stops the situation from occurring which now exists in the women’s game but valid explanations do not offset the boredom of watching the non-competitive games.
We absolutely want the women’s game to lead to graduations of the players and that should not change, but the current situation is not just bad for other teams but it appears that it is also not a positive for Connecticut either. Depending upon how the numbers are crunched it appears that attendance even at UConn is declining (See The Hartford Courant's March 19, 2012 article by Jeff Jacobs: Drop In Women's Tourney Attendance...) http://articles.courant.com/2012-03-19/sports/hc-jacobs-column-0319-20120319_1_geno-auriemma-uconn-women-uconn-figures which if these statistics hold true would be of no surprise as I and my friends find monotonous lop-sided games to be very difficult to watch as the lack of a competitive atmosphere is just not enjoyable.
The beginning of this decade found the sport continuing to grow in popularity with a ongoing influx of first time fans, including player’s boyfriends and adult men, discovering the women's game. In order to continue the uptick pattern the sport must produce a competitive and enjoyable product that is without a pre-ordained year after year winner.
Women’s basketball survived the dominance of Tennessee as it was less of a detriment than the current situation with UConn for it was during a period where Tennessee's skill level brought first time media and fans outside of Tennessee attention to the game. Tennessee's dominance included a period of time where, despite the passage of Title IX in the 1970's, many college women were happy that their school fielded a team at all, much less a nationally competitive one so their dominance was less of an issue than it is today.
Earlier years showed most women's team audiences to be primarily composed of relatives, friends and local community supporters who did not quit following the game when their team did not perform at levels where rankings were of concern. This is not true in today's world where potential fans have many choices of events and sports to either attend or view through their electronics. To keep their attention a good entertainment product is a requirement that repetitive 25 point wins do not provide as was exhibited by a friend who annually attends the final 4 games decision to depart very early from this year’s championship game.
The NCAA and others are looking in many directions to find ways to not only maintain current fan interest but also to again grow the game. Even with many reviews and adjustments by the NCAA, in reality I believe the direction of this decade's women's college basketball is in the hands of today's high school players and their parents. Will too many of the top high school players continue down the well trodden automated path and choose to become another cog in the UConn machine or instead will they choose the path less traveled where break out stars ( where as examples) North Carolina's Diamond DeShields, and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne can forever be known for putting their school back into conversation, excitement and national title hunt.
Only history will tell but I believe that more parity in the sport is desperately needed or many of our current and potential future fans will look elsewhere for events which are less predictable.
WE ALSO WANTED TO RUN THIS PICTURE OF MY LONGTIME BUDDY "BIG AL"...REPRESENTING IN HIS CARDINAL COUPLE SHIRT. LOOKING GOOD, AMIGO!