The idea of treating male and female athletes differently will always spark controversy. Whereas some folks understand that certain biological factors make gender-specific sports guidelines a must, others believe that everything should be the same regardless of circumstances. It's an extremely polarizing topic.
During a recent interview with the Hartford Courant, UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma stressed the importance of understanding the difference between men’s basketball and women’s basketball, and the impact that difference has had on the latter's popularity.
"The game hasn't grown as much as it should in the last 10 years and much of the old guard doesn't want to hear it," Auriemma said. "In 2002, we played the Final Four in front of 30,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
"Now, 10 years later , we [the women's Final Four] can't sell out the Conseco Field House [in Indianapolis]? So how much has the game possibly improved, in terms of how badly people want to see it?"
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Auriemma believes that the game is a few subtle changes away from being a hit again, though.
"What makes fans not want to watch women's basketball is that some of the players can't shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down," he said.
"How do help improve that? Lower the rim [from 10 feet]. Do you think the average fan knows that the net is lower in women's volleyball than men's volleyball? It's about seven inches shorter so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net [as the men]."
To make sure that that people understand how reasonable this idea truly is, Auriemma pointed to a different sport that has successfully incorporated different setups for men and women.
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"Why is softball played on a different field than baseball?" Auriemma said. "Why don't they ask those women to play with 90-foot base paths?
It’s a fair point. There is a reason folks get so crazy whenever Brittney Griner dunks the ball – because nobody else can do it. And why can’t anyone else do it? Because the rims are in fact unrealistically high in women’s basketball. Compare the percentage of male basketball players that can dunk to the percentage of women’s basketball players that can dunk. It’s ridiculous.
Will anything change? Hard to say. But it’s good that discussions are being had, either way. If nobody talks about these matters then they definitely won’t get resolved.