With March Madness in full swing all eyes are on the Men’s and Women’s tournaments. But according to one sports writer, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, there are not as many people watching the Women’s tournament simply because of the lack of parity between UConn and the rest of the field. UConn is preparing for their ninth straight final four as well as trying to win a fourth straight national championship. On Saturday March 26th UConn absolutely thumped Mississippi State 98-38. That is when Dan Shaughnessy tweeted: “UConn Women beat Miss St. 98-38 in NCAA tourney. Hate to punish them for being great, but they are killing women’s game. Watch? No thanks”. The tweet caused a bit of controversy and Geno Auriemma, the UConn Women’s coach responded, “There are a lot better writers than Dan Shaughnessy but that doesn’t mean he’s bad for the game”. Besides the drama between the two, there is a lot to be said about the current state of Women’s basketball.
The UConn Women’s team is a dominant force and is the best program in the country for Women’s basketball, and we as sports fans are witnessing possibly the greatest dynasty ever in sports. What they have done and continue to do is unprecedented. However I do not agree with the tweet and I believe they are good for the Women’s game as well as advancing it. Yes, they dominate year in and year out and the advances may not be apparent right now, but what they are doing in the long run is raising the competitiveness of Women’s basketball. The way I view it is, the young female athletes growing up now see what UConn does and it simply encourages them to become a better basketball player. We see a similar trend in all Men’s sports. Every year high school recruits are jumping higher and running faster than the previous year’s class. The same can be said for rookies joining their respective professional leagues. The rookies come in breaking rookie records and replacing aging vets in these leagues. This same model or cycle will make its way to the women’s sports. Although there is a lack of competitiveness now, I truly believe in ten to fifteen years, the scope of the Women’s game will be very different.
A huge part of UConn’s dominance can be attributed to their coach and recruiting. Geno Auriemma is undoubtedly a fantastic coach and arguably the best in the nation for Women’s basketball. He is also a phenomenal recruiter, as he has the top players year in and year out. The bottom line is some high school players want to play for him and his team. This is true for all college sports. Nick Saban at Alabama, Coach K at Duke as well as John Calipari, and Geno Auriemma. That being said, what happens when all of these coaches leave for a different program or retire? Sure, someone will step in and they might be as dominant, but there might also be a few rough years. Unfortunately, I believe the program that will take the biggest hit due to this reasoning is the UConn Women’s team. Once Auriemma retires, naturally his influence will leave too. This could possibly create an opening for a new team to overtake UConn as the best team in the country. This scenario is a hypothetical one, one that reflects my view and opinion on the current situation of UConn Women’s basketball. But, history shows that sports dynasties don’t last forever, no matter how long they last. The UCLA Men’s basketball team won ten championships in less than fifteen years including seven straight. Since the title in 1975, they have won one other one in that forty year span, in 1995. Dynasties of this magnitude (UCLA Men and UConn Women) are few and far between, the bottom line is dynasties do not last forever. Therefore, it is not fair to state that the UConn Women’s team is killing the game.
Dynasties will pop up occasionally in every sport, it is inevitable. Besides the one stated above, there was the Michael Jordan Bulls, Bill Russell Celtics, and The Yankees who had several dynasties in their history. Other ones today include, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the San Francisco Giants, who have won every even numbered year since 2010. Even our softball team at UF is potentially in the midst of a dynasty, seeking a three-peat. When all of these teams were in the midst of their dynasty, no one was saying they were bad for the game. They were being praised for their greatness and success. Then why is UConn be criticized for their success on the court? They should be celebrated for what they have accomplished year in and year out.
As a basketball fan, I respect and admire what they have accomplished in the 21st century. They have been champions nine times since 2000 and look to add a tenth title this year. Criticizing Auriemma for these accomplishments is unfair and unjust. We should be celebrating and appreciating what he and his team has done, because a dynasty of this magnitude may never happen again.