The Dynasty Continues.
The women of the University of Connecticut’s basketball program, and its coaching staff, made history Tuesday night. Defeating Syracuse, 82-51, in the national championship game. Last night’s victory marked the Lady Huskies’ fourth consecutive title win, a first among women’s sports teams. John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team holds the record for seven consecutive championships (1967-1973). Head coach Geno Auriemma earned his 11th title overall, while coaching his sixth perfect season. Amid celebrating its success, the program will say goodbye to a trio of outstanding seniors and the nucleus of the team — Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck. Together they share a record of 151 wins and just five losses.
However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for the Lady Huskies. Along the road to victory, the media’s focus has somewhat tarnished UConn’s achievements. Instead of eagerly anticipating an opportunity to witness history, as we’ve done all season long with the Golden State Warriors who are in pursuit of breaking the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record for best NBA season, the media has entertained detractors who believe Auriemma’s program is hurting women’s college basketball. Auriemma and his topnotch staff were blamed for the lack of parity within the sport, as if they have the power to control recruiting, coaching, injuries, and team performance for every team in Division I women’s college basketball. They’re being scapegoated because teams haven’t figured out the secret sauce behind the elite program’s winning formula. That’s a lazy, yet typical outlook on women college basketball, or women’s sports, in general.
Women athletes already lack respect and are deemed inferior to their male peers. And yet, we have a group of women dominating the sport in every category, and people find fault with their excellence. They’re criticized for winning too much. How oxymoronic is that? Isn’t the entire purpose of competing to win? And if winning too much is indeed a thing, how is it a bad thing? Instead of blocking their shine, we need to celebrate the consistency, dedication, and outstanding work ethic of these exceptional women. How about celebrating them for exhibiting teamwork and selflessness, especially in the superficial era of selfies. These women are amazing role models for aspiring athletes. And anytime they’re criticized for honoring their gifts, it sends a negative message that what they’re doing is somehow adverse.
In sports, or any industry, it’s difficult to continue to outpace the competition for back to back to back to back years. In college basketball specifically, a one and done competition such as the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments, nothing is guaranteed. On any given night, David can beat Goliath. Upsets happen regularly. And yet, the Lady Huskies have slayed every dragon they’ve encountered for four years straight. If this accomplishment wasn’t so rare, they wouldn’t be the first women’s team to achieve it, and only the second team, overall, to earn this distinct honor.
Downplaying UConn’s greatness and impact on sports only contributes to the marginalization of women athletes in this country. If game recognize game, be truthful in respecting their athleticism and talents. Don’t put a ceiling on their gifts. Uplift and encourage them to strive for five. Whether you’re for them or against them, the dynasty will continue, regardless. #BowDown