Photo: AP Images
The Connecticut Huskies women’s basketball team has won 88 straight games, the same number that UCLA’s men’s dynasty won in the early 1970s.Head coach Geno Auriemma believes all the “miserable bastards” who love the men’s game think that’s too many.
“Because we’re breaking a men’s record, we’ve got a lot of people paying attention,” Auriemma said. “If we were breaking a women’s record, everybody would go, ‘Aren’t those girls nice, let’s give them two paragraphs in USA Today, you know, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let’s send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.'”
First of all, the idea that men’s basketball writers are attacking UConn’s accomplishment is pretty silly. All the coverage of the streak that we’ve seen has been nothing but fawning. Also, most of that extra coverage is coming from Bristol, Connecticut’s own ESPN, which is unquestionably the Huskies’ biggest backer. They are flooding their airwaves with UConn today and if they didn’t, it’s hard to believe anyone else would.
Also, there was plenty of coverage when UConn broke the women’s mark last year — a mark set by Geno Auriemma and Connecticut.
It’s true that a few people have pointed out that the Lady Huskies aren’t really breaking UCLA’s record, and that’s because … well, they aren’t. The men’s and women’s games are simply too different to make meaningful comparisons between them.
No one compares men’s and women’s figure skating medals or track and field records. No one is even comparing this team to Wayland Baptist College, whose women’s basketball team won 138 straight games in the 1950s — and they actually played the same sport.
That doesn’t mean it’s not impressive. Make no mistake: Connecticut’s streak is an incredibly difficult feat and one they should be lauded for. But it doesn’t do the women’s game any favours to constantly compare them to the men.
Perhaps that’s what really grating on Auriemma. If the sport is ever truly going to gain acceptance it has to do it on its own, not as a sideshow to the men’s game.
Unfortunately, that may never happen, just as Auriemma will never escape the “why doesn’t he try coaching men?” question. The faster, flashier game will always get more attention. I’m sure that angers him, but calling people names won’t suddenly make them like you.
No one really notices the women’s game unless some significant milestone is passed and since he’s the one who passed all of those milestones, Auriemma feels that sting more than most. That may be a source of neverending frustration to the game’s best coach, but it’s one he’ll have to live with for more day.
After that, Geno and his sport can go back to being ignored.
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