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.
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…
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?