Goals Higher than 10 Feet

Los Angeles rookie Candace Parker slams down two of her 10 points with 29 seconds left to play against Indiana. Parker joined teammate Lisa Leslie as the only players to dunk in a WNBA game.

Photo Credit: USA Today

I was recently approached with the question should female basketball players play on nine-foot goals to make the women’s game more exciting on all levels? The old me would’ve said yes without any hesitation. I always dreamed of being able to dunk and if I was able to play on a nine-foot goal instead of the normal 10-foot goal, that dream would’ve come true. Twelve inches is a big difference. However, I recently had the privilege to experience a WNBA game first-hand. The Washington Mystics battled the Atlanta Dream and it was an intense, high-energy game. The ladies balled out, and a lot of their plays should’ve made “SportsCenter’s” or “Fox Sports Live’s” top plays. To see that type of performance was reassurance that the women’s game is moving forward in the right direction. Now, I had a former high school girls basketball coach say that lowering the goals would increase the women’s game and bring in more fans. This statement may be true because if more women are dunking, catching alley-oops, slapping the glass and playing above the rim, this may garner the attention of more fans. On the other hand, this excitement comes at a cost. Essentially, this change would water down the women’s game. I’m all for change if it’s for the better, but this change would negate everything female basketball players have worked for thus far. To play with a smaller ball is one thing – many women can play just as well with men’s basketballs – but to change the height of the goals, female ballers would have to change their shots and that’s a problem.

Women would probably agree that, although it’s tempting, they don’t want the easy way out. Goals shouldn’t be lowered to nine feet, female players need to continue to play at a higher level. Many fans and college coaches are looking at girls basketball at the middle school and high school levels and focusing on the bad players instead of the talented ones. There are some players who get involved with the game at a young age, work hard and their performance shows, while others may play because their parents want them to, their friends are playing or other reasons that are a reflection of their performance. Genetically, males are more athletic than females, so male basketball players playing above the rim comes more naturally. Although there are athletic women who are explosive and can dunk , if fans judge the quality of the women’s game based on it being above the rim, then female basketball players will never be good enough. Read More

Lebron James, Face of the NBA

LebronPic

Photo Credit: GQ.com

It’s levels to becoming the face of any team, company or organization. In Lebron James’ case, he’s not only the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’s also the face of the National Basketball Association. Rapper Jay-Z says it best, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” James is every bit of this quote, because he is a talented athlete who has leveraged himself into a profitable business. What does this have to do with him being the face of the NBA? Some qualifications of having this honor consist of superb talent, good character, clean image and strong fan support. The fact that James meets all of these qualifications – and has since he stepped foot into the NBA – has led to a brand that is normal of a white, male athlete and multiple endorsements (Mocarski & Billings, 2014). James, similar to Michael Jordan, is the opposite of the negative stigma of African American, male athletes. It starts with character. Since entering the league as an 18 year old in 2003, James hasn’t had any run-ins with law enforcement, such as being cited for a DUI, possession of marijuana, domestic violence or sexual assault. Not saying that every male of color has issues with the law, but this phenomenon is problematic among males of color and has been quite for some time. It’s even becoming more prevalent among African American college athletes. There are also other talented males of color who have good images, but none of them have been able to garner the respect that James has. Now, I do not agree with James overruling his head coach in public – that’s cancerous to any team – or holding out to resign his contract with the Cavs. If you’re the franchise player, you should be confident enough to know that your franchise will put the right players around you in order to win. In this instance, James is abusing his power and he needs to humble himself.

On the other hand, I do agree with the way James has put himself in position to be able to put those around him in a better position. The 2012 ESPN 30 for 30 film “Broke” documents former NBA, NFL and MLB players giving testimonies of how they went bankrupt shortly after retirement. According to Sports Illustrated, sixty-percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement and 78 percent of former NFL players have gone bankrupt within three. However, James has ensured this will not be the case for him by figuring out how to maximize his gift of basketball and creating generational wealth for his family. Read More

And the No.1 Pick Is

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Photo Credit: USA Today

The 2015 NFL Draft was centered around Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and which quarterback the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would select with the No.1 pick. Everyone knew whomever was selected first, the other would be selected next. Just as the NFL always has a high demand for talented quarterbacks, the NBA has a high demand for talented and healthy post players, because they are few and far between. Similar to the NFL Draft, the 2015 NBA Draft is centered around the University of Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Duke University’s Jahlil Okafor and who the Minnesota Timberwolves will select with the No.1 pick. In the process of rebuilding its franchise, the Timberwolves made a great decision to trade for the 2014 No.1 pick and 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year in Andrew Wiggins. Minnesota had to trade franchise player Kevin Love in the process but the T-Wolves are still headed in the right direction for the future. Along with small forward Wiggins, T-wolves have a solid foundation with the return of veteran power forward Kevin Garnett, point guard Ricky Rubio and 2015 Slam-Dunk contest winner and shooting guard Zack Lavine. Now, T-Wolves need a strong center. Does the team choose Okafor or Towns? Read More

College Athletics, a Means to an End for Female Athletes

Photo Credit: Walsh University Athletics

We’ve all heard the phrase, “most athletes will go pro in something other than sports.” It’s tough to get to the professional level of any sport or by the time a student-athlete graduates from college, he or she is burnt out from years of strenuous physical activity. However, at least male football, baseball, hockey and soccer players have the availability of a professional league. Athletes have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic games, but they only come around every four years. Where are the women’s professional softball, volleyball and gymnastics leagues? Of the thousands of female athletes within each sport, a portion of them have the desire, talent and longevity to compete year-round in a national league just as the men do. There are female athletes who want more than the experience of being a collegiate athlete and receiving a college degree.

There’s a National Women’s Soccer League, which most people don’t know about. According to politico.com, the women’s salaries reportedly range from $6,000 to $30,000. Each team has a salary cap of about $200,000 compared to a $3.1 million salary cap for Men’s League Soccer. Besides the Women’s Tennis Association, broadcasters have marginalized women’s sports, resulting in less money being dispersed to players. Furthermore, a lot of discussion centers around whether there’s an audience for women’s sports – the WNBA struggles to garner quantitative views, and the most television coverage NWSL players receive is during the FIFA World Cup – so if these leagues are created, will viewers tune in? This topic is hard to decipher due to the lack luster coverage women’s college athletics receive from sports networks. If female college athletes received more coverage, researchers can collect quantitative data to examine to what extent viewers are watching women’s college athletics. If viewers are watching women’s college athletics, more than likely, they’ll watch professional women’s sports. On the other hand, women’s college volleyball and soccer is overshadowed by college football and the WNBA takes the backseat to the NBA playoffs and MLB season. Female athletes just can’t catch a break. Read More

Challenging the Status Quo

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

With the 2015 WNBA season underway, I want to bring your attention to a matter that is rarely discussed, but is necessary for the growth of the women’s game. Every year, the NBA Draft is flooded with underclassmen who decide to leave college early to punch their tickets to fulfill a lifelong dream. However, this isn’t the case for female basketball players. With a few exceptions, they usually exhaust their eligibility to get their degrees whether they plan to play professionally or not, mainly because the WNBA salaries are like minimum wage compared to what NBA players make. In addition to the WNBA, players have to play overseas just to break six figures, while the average NBA player can earn six figures just for showing up.  Although, the WNBA is barely tw0-decades old, has shorter seasons and fewer teams and sponsors, the financial disparity is wide. Now, the veterans and star players such as Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi have million dollar networths after endorsements, but the WNBA currently has a maximum salary of $107,000 annually. Some of the coaches make more than double the salary of star players. Read More

Minor Progression in Sport and Society

The following segment debuted in February as a part of “SportsCenter’s” Black History Month special. It’s still timely because it highlights how sport mirrors society in a way that we have made progression but we’re still not fully where we need to be when it comes to topics such as race and gender. ESPN Sports Columnist Jemele Hill sits down with 13-year-old, multi-sport star Mo’ne Davis and six-time Olympic, track and field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee to discuss these issues.

http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/12348951/behind-scenes-mone-davis-jackie-joyner-kersee

Giving a Voice to the Voiceless: The Imani McGee-Stafford Story

There’s more to Imani McGee-Stafford than what meets the eye. The University of Texas center not only uses basketball as an escape, but she also uses poetry as a form of expression to release her pain and pour hope into others. Lives have been and will be saved because of her boldness to speak up and out about her struggles. Here’s her story:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12395181

From the ACC to the SEC, She’s Back

Arguably the best women’s college basketball player this past season was also the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft. The best player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history – yes, better than Skylar Diggins – Jewell Loyd has been a spectacular player since her freshman year as a Fighting Irish. The 2015 espnW National Player of the Year was so amazing, she decided to forego her last year of college eligibility to take her talents to the WNBA, which is rare for women basketball players. Although her former head coach, teammates and others in the sports industry knocked her for the decision, heading to Seattle as the No.1 pick with the money she has coming her way from the WNBA and overseas doesn’t seem like a bad look after all. Now that Loyd has moved on to the big league,  who’s creating the most buzz entering the 2015-2016 season? Read More

Women Can Coach, Just Not the Men

I’ve always pondered why it’s acceptable for male coaches to coach women at the college and professional levels but it’s not as acceptable for women to coach men at those levels. Although it’s not abnormal to see a woman coaching Amateur Athletic Union or high school boys, it’s still rare. San Antonio Spurs’ Becky Hammon is the first full-time paid woman assistant in the NBA – which is a crack at the glass ceiling – but I look forward to the day when it becomes normal for women to be the head coaches of college and professional men’s basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. I think since sports such as basketball, baseball and football are contact sports, they are stereotyped as needing a man to be in control and call the shots. There’s a little more lead way with Olympic-style sports such as track and field, swimming and tennis for women to get away with being head coaches, partly because these are a mix of individual and team sports and they’re more graceful. On the other hand, I don’t understand why people would throw tantrums over the thought of a woman coaching a masculine sport like football, but men coach feminine sports like volleyball and gymnastics, and it’s acceptable. Read More

Who’s the Real G.O.A.T? Part II

My previous post discussed the greatest women’s basketball player of all time (G.O.A.T.), Cheryl Miller. Now, I want to offer some perspective about the greatest men’s basketball player of all time, since it’s a little more difficult to decipher. Whenever the best men’s basketball players are discussed, the most talked about names are Walt Frazier, Julius Irving, Oscar Robertson, George Gervin, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and even Lebron James. Of course, the most favored of all these players is Jordan. When I think of the GOAT, I think of a player who makes his or her teammates better, impacts the game on offense and defense, must be the best player for his or her franchise and has to have championships under his or her belt.

Without a doubt, Jordan falls into all of these categories, but why is it that we only associate guards with the GOAT? Read More

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