Mark Potash, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.

It’s amazing to be part of something so massive.


It’s amazing to sit in Madison Square Garden, hearing the crowd chant “88, 88, 88, 88” and feel the chills rise up on the back of your spine, as you slowly stand and begin to chant along with them.  


We don’t talk about the streak.  At all.  I haven’t really processed it.  But in that moment, when I heard the people of MSG shouting that number…it all kind of coalesced in my head.  The beauty, the power of the moment.  It’s enough to bring anyone to their knees.


To watch your father hug his mother and pinch her cheek, shaking his head at the magnitude of it all.


No matter what sport you play, what class, what division…winning 88 games in a row is something to be celebrated on its own merit.  


The INSTANT you throw John Wooden in there, everyone poops their pants.


This is the transcript of an email I wrote to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-times about his highly sexist, misogynistic, and overall unfair article.  You can read it here.  It’s pretty much stating the obvious of what Dad was trying to convey in his normally polarizing way.  


Also, Gregg Doyle had some interesting things to spout off about here.  BTW Gregg, if UCLA was so loaded like we are today, then why do we applaud THEM?


Mr. Potash,


I found your article on my father’s win streak to be highly entertaining.  Yes, I am Geno Auriemma’s daughter, the one that blogs.  


Of course, most of the article was grossly exaggerated and hyperbolic, but what journalism today isn’t?


My father is not interested in “breaking” UCLA’s win streak.  You would be hardpressed to find a man more admiring of John Wooden than my father.  He carries around Wooden’s autobiography in his bag.  Gail Goodrich attended our game against Ohio State in Madison Square Garden.  Dad truly respects what UCLA did, and knows they can never match up.  That win streak is like spun gold to my father.  Not to be touched.  This streak is all ours.

Everyone ELSE is matching them up, causing a few people-yourself included, apparently-to get all up in knots and flustered because a women’s team can win 88 games in a row. Now, you might come back and say “But a men’s team would never be able to do that in this day and age.” 

You make it sound like we play easy teams that just lay still and wait for us to kick them into submission.  That’s an insult to every team we’ve competed against.  An insult to C. Vivian Stringer, Doug Bruno, Tara Vanderveer, Jim Foster, Van Chancellor, Harry Perretta, Muffet McGraw, Coquese Washington and company (ETA: Not to mention Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles, Cassie Kerns, Tahirah Williams, Jacquie Fernandes, Tina Charles, Kalana Greene, Kaili Maclaren, Meghan Gardler, and our current senior class of Maya Moore and Lorin Dixon).  It’s also an insult to the memory of Maggie Dixon, whose untimely death sparked the tournament held at MSG this weekend, the tournament that we tied the streak in.  

John Wooden himself said that women’s basketball was a higher level of sport than men’s at the time of his death.  It was a better all-around game.  Women don’t fly at the net from the three point line.  They have to connect to each other, experience teamwork, and get the job done without dunks.  Although I could say Maya Moore can flush it, and we’ve all seen Brittney Griner slam them home.  But that’s beside the point.

My Dad would never presume to connect his team to UCLA.  It’s like comparing a welterweight to a featherweight in boxing.  Two different classes. Two different records.
Unlike you and your constituents, those of us who are actually passionate about women’s basketball recognize that what may happen on Tuesday night is a beautiful, wonderful thing.  Something that should be celebrated on its own.

And journalists like you, Mr. Potash, are spitting in the face of that accomplishment.

I hope we win tomorrow night for our own merit.  So we can sit back and say “wow, we really did something remarkable.”  Without UCLA being mentioned.

Yeah, you could write this off as a pissed off daughter trying to clear some debris for dear old Daddy.  And you’d be right, in a way…people have been talking out of the side of their neck about my father for so many years, eventually you tend to brush it aside and move on.  But I felt compelled to write this, and I was not goaded into it by an outside force.  There have been far too many people making inane statements over the last few weeks, not least of all Bryant Gumbel on Real Sports who clearly needs to brush up on his women’s basketball knowledge (not like he would, though…)

And in regards to the ‘in the kitchen’ comment…it may just get my goat a little bit that after 25 years people still don’t understand when my dad is making a joke. A very appropriate, razor-sharp, and timely joke.  But a joke nonetheless.  (he is, however, just stating the worst of what people have written on message boards throughout the years about women’s basketball).  Our streak is bringing out some horrifying sexism in the state of American sports.

You can’t say that people don’t care about this game, or about our team.  Because let’s face it…you wouldn’t have been forced to write that article if people didn’t care. 

Yes, most people in the United States don’t really care about women’s basketball.  It’s a fact.  But that doesn’t make it right.

Alysa Auriemma

PS.  We aren’t even breaking the longest win streak in overall basketball history, as I hope you know.  That streak is held by the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens of the 1940s.  We still have some ways to go before that one.
ETA: I told my father about the article, and about my rebuttal.  His whole point of the press conference was to say that if it weren’t for the fact we were breaking UCLA’s record, no one would care.  And if we break it tonight, people still won’t care.  He’s not whining about it.  He’s stating bald facts.  People in this country don’t care about women’s basketball, the same way Sarah Palin doesn’t care about the health of our children or John McCain doesn’t care about the homophobic state of our military.  These are facts.  That does not make it right.
Also, some people are saying “Why can’t they just celebrate it on its own instead of having to compare themselves to the men?” EXACTLY THE DAMN POINT.  DON’T COMPARE IT TO THE MEN’S RECORD.  What we may accomplish tonight is stunning on its own.

I wish I hadn’t had to complain about anyone or anything today.  Today is supposed to be an awesome day full of alumni, friends, and the sold-out crowd at the XL Center.  But instead, i have to deal with sexism on a massive scale.  And I haven’t even digested my oatmeal yet.
See, this is where it pays to be a writer.  Because it’s a crime to beat up the people who talk crap about my family or about the team.  It’s not a crime to write about it.  
Perhaps the sword truly is mightier than the pen.  And besides, the pen can do a hell of a lot of damage, if Jeff Jacob’s “Soupy Sales” article from 1998 is any indicator (oh, you think I forgot about that one?).  
But anything can happen, right? It’s the winter solstice.  Yule.  A time to relax, to let go, and to celebrate with ones you love.  Here’s hoping I have a ton to celebrate tonight…
Ally
PS.  Someone asked me to do a list of my favorite Christmas songs.  That will come later today.  I couldn’t have something so lighthearted in a post like this.  Although maybe it would have tempered the mood?
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6 thoughts on “Mark Potash, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.

  1. You go, girl – good job! I'm looking forward to celebrating with thousands of other fans – long-time and new – at the XL Center tonight. We know how extraordinary the team's accomplishments are, and those who persist in making ignorant comments don't really matter.

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  2. For some reason when I was reading your blog this morning Pink's “Raise Your Glass” popped into my head. After searching the internet for the lyrics, I found Pink's description of the song: “a celebration for people who feel left out from the popular crowd”. And it fit. So I leave you with the chorus.

    Party crasher, penny snatcher
    Call me up if you are gangster
    Don't be fancy
    Just get dancey
    Why so serious?
    So raise your glass if you are wrong
    In all the right ways
    All my underdogs, we will never be, never be
    Anything but loud
    And nitty gritty dirty little freaks
    Won't you come on, and come on, and
    Raise your glass
    Just come on and come and
    Raise Your Glass!

    Enjoy the day and hope everything goes swimmingly tonight for your family and the team.

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  3. Ms Auriemma,

    Some people do enjoy women's sports, but then again some people also have foot fetishes and other people like to eat liver…all three make no sense to me, give me no pleasure and I could care less about all three.

    Other than knowing your father's name and the things he'd accomplished, I'd never watched a women's basketball game and probably never will.

    I found the interview that you complain about on Bryant Gumbel's Real Sports on HBO to be a fascinating look at your father and I gained a lot of respect for him from it. However, that doesn't negate the fact that other than those people who are directly involved in it, nobody gives a crap about women's sports.

    What I found especially insulting about your childish posting was your comments about John McCain and Sarah Palin.

    First of all, I can't stand Sarah Palin so let's get that out of the way. But what you wrote about her was so INCREDIBLY stupid and inappropriate that you should be embarrassed by it.

    Secondly, your statement about John McCain, again were just completely inappropriate and totally uncalled for.

    You want to be a proud liberal that's your business and you have every right to feel that way, but I find it oddly disturbing that it's always the liberals who piss and moan about all sorts of inequalities and do it by name calling and the exact behavior that they criticize in others.

    How is it that anyone who doesn't agree with the homosexual agenda is suddenly homophobic?

    I don't agree with the agenda and I have many friends who just so happen to be homosexual. Frankly I could care less what someone's sexual behavior is. It's none of my business, just as my sex life is none of theirs.

    I am not a religious extremist, in fact I'm an Atheist. But that doesn't mean that I don't have a moral compass. To me it's a life-style choice & to me it's not one that deserves any more special treatment than any other fetishist deserves.

    But all of that doesn't matter. My opinion is my opinion and you can disagree with it all you want. You can defend you father all you want…even though he doesn't need you to defend him.

    My advice to you is to ignore what people write about him or what he's accomplished. If you and he and others that follow his “sport” acknowledge it as a great feat, then that's all that matters.

    I recognize that I'm not going to change your opinion any more than you are going to change mine. The only advice I would offer is a VERY simple life lesson… “Live and Let Live…” If you don't like what someone's written, then ignore them…Just as I am going to ignore whatever follows this posting.

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  4. Great post, Ally.

    I find the previous posters comments quite amusing. He wants you to ignore what you don't like and HE's going to ignore what's written after his comments, yet he obviously felt compelled to not only read your post, but to also respond to it. I just don't get it.

    I would have more to say, but I have to go get started on my homosexual agenda that I didn't even know I had.

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

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  5. Hmm, interesting that someone who “doesn't give a crap” about women's sports is reading this blog. (Also, your comments about Sarah Palin and John McCain were right on the money in my opinion!)

    But more importantly, Ally, what a great letter! In addition to being one of the most incredible moments in sports history, the streak has revealed some absolutely disgusting, angering sexism that is, for some reason, still socially acceptable. Kudos to people like you who can so eloquently state what so many people are thinking right now. Thank you, Ally, a million times!!

    Like

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