Women’s hoops get no respect

By By Natalie Dicou and By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

The following may come as shocking news to some of you, but — you might want to sit down for this one — did you know that the U not only has a men’s basketball team, but also a women’s basketball team?

I know it sounds preposterous?women endangering their fragile wombs in such a violent sport?but it’s true.

OK, I’m done being a smart-aleck. Let me level with you. Aside from the band, the teams, the players’ loved ones and a few media stalwarts, not too many people show up to root for the U women’s basketball team.

Ever since I began covering the team for The Chrony, I knew that a column on this subject had to be written. But how should I approach it?

Should I reprimand the sexist masses? Should I try to sell the women’s team as more successful than the men’s team and try to convince you that they are therefore more worthy of your support? Should I profile various players in an effort to win you over with their talents? Should I plead, beg, rant, whine? Should I quote Susan B. Anthony and Betty Freidan? Should I burn my bra and then, um, write about it?

Instead, I’ll just pose a question: Why exactly doesn’t the team get more butts in the seats? There are probably a couple major reasons for the lack of support, but I want to address the one that’s right up my alley: the media. Seriously, what is with the coverage of the Utah women’s basketball team in both The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News?

On Thursday, the Utes clashed with Air Force, beating the hapless Falcons in a Mountain West Conference matchup that catapulted Utah into second place in the league.

Friday morning, as I was nibbling on a blueberry muffin and trying to resist the urge to refill my coffee cup at Einstein Bagels, I flipped through the sports pages of Utah’s two major dailies to search for a recap of the Ute game. Frankly, my search was a feat similar to locating Waldo among a jumble of people wearing that same damn red and white shirt in Where’s Waldo??it took a keen eye and some calculated effort.

Friday’s DesNews‘ lead sports page featured an article titled “Grizzlies’ Sertich adapting to defense.” That’s hardly breaking news. The top two stories on the page dedicated solely to college basketball (section D8) were “Wildcats will host Big Sky Tourney” (ho hum) and an article about how No. 23 Oregon defeated No. 9 Washington State (um, how is that local?).

Finally, buried at the bottom of the section: Eureka! An article about the Ute women! 224 words of pure recap! If I hadn’t been searching the paper with a fine-toothed comb, I never would have found it. All it took was a little effort and a bit of squinting! I knew the DesNews would come through!

The Tribune, to my dismay, gave the Utes the exact amount of space allotted to someone selling a bike in the classified ads. Sixteen measly words, that’s all. Enough said.

I realize it’s high school basketball playoff time and the papers are doing their best to cover prep hoops with limited space, but this is not an isolated oversight. There is a pandemic of apathy and disinterest in this state and the vast majority of other states regarding women’s hoops.

Women’s basketball teams are rarely, if ever, given any press coverage. If not the local papers — and more broadly, the media in general — who will lead the crusade to shine a spotlight on the women in basketball? Will they forever remain in the shadows? Has the feminist movement come to an abrupt halt?

The rebuttal, of course, is “Give the people what they want” — and admittedly, readers of sports pages have very specific tastes. Right now, they are mainly interested in the NBA and men’s college basketball.

While some female players are beginning to dunk the ball, the physiological differences between males and females will not change. The styles of play are different, but if you actually sit down and watch a women’s game, you’ll see that the things that make basketball great are there in abundance: dedication, skill, passion, ferocity and heart.

Now let’s write about them. Let’s spread the word.