The big news around these parts (well, to me at least), is that the University of Maryland women's basketball team won their Regional final last night against #3 Louisville to earn their first trip to the Final Four since they won it all in 2006. Pretty impressive, no? Seeded at #4, they knocked off #1 Tennessee in the semis to advance to the final. From all accounts, it was a good game: evenly matched opponents, lots of lead changes and it all coming down to fundamentals in the end. So I've been feeling pretty pumped; I played ball in high school and Noelle wants to play too. In fact, I almost panicked over when the Final Four games start so I can make sure she gets to watch it.
The point is, these kids are good. They are so much better than I could ever dream of being (let's just say that talent-wise, basketball was a distant third for me. Swimming, holla!). They are better than probably 90% of the population; they got to where they are now by hard work, dedication and a heaping dose of talent. It's a beautiful thing to watch; women's basketball. It's the game at it's finest. Yes, strength and endurance play heavily into the mix but the nuances of the game are captured more perfectly by women's ball than any other form. No, they can't (for the most part) go toe to toe with their male counterparts for a long period as size, in this case, does if not matter then certainly affects the outcome. So they play smarter. They play the game the way it's meant to be played: not with monster dunks but with patience and cunning, exploiting weaknesses and chinks in the defense like a battle-hardened general. I love it.
So when I was pulling samples earlier today with sports talk radio playing in the background, the Lady Terps' victory naturally came up. It was a huge win, it should be celebrated and discussed. (Note that the men's team failed to make even the NIT - the consolation playoff.) But what happens? The first caller in immediately cheapens their accomplishment by trotting out the age-old line of 'but it's really not all that impressive since they're girls and any good high school team could beat them.' Um, probably not. See the above paragraph for reference if needed. Is it worth mentioning that Alyssa Thomas, the Two-Time All American forward now owns the University of Maryland all-time scoring record for both men AND women? To put it bluntly (as subtlety is lost on you) THAT'S REALLY REALLY FUCKING IMPRESSIVE.
That drives me crazy: well, against a men's team they wouldn't win so it's not as impressive and not really basketball and you should just get back to home ec where you belong. Yes, 40 years ago girls were only allowed to play half-court ball and with six players because, and this is important, NO ONE EVER THOUGHT TO LET THEM TRY IT FULL-COURT. Not that they couldn't, they weren't allowed. Weren't encouraged. Weren't challenged. Fast forward 40 years and these girls, these women will knock your ass all over the court. They are strong, they are fearless and they own their game. There is nothing left at the buzzer; they've left it all out on the floor. Their elation and dejection is the same as the men's. If that's not the point of athletics, male or female, I don't know what is.
Therefore Mr. Armchair Point Guard Quarterback, I challenge you to find a women's game and go against them with a team of your own. You can recreate the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs throw-down but with basketballs. And you will learn to your chagrin that these 'girls' have skills. They have moves. And they will chew you up and spit you out.
Enjoy your comfy seat Mr. Armchair Point Guard Quarterback; obsolescence is calling.