On Sexism and Women’s Basketball
When will it end?
(laughs) If you’re wondering if I typed the above sentence with a straight face, the answer is an obvious and emphatic “no.”
All sarcasm aside, the WNBA and women’s basketball gets so much hate that I really don’t respond to the vast majority of individuals who take pleasure in hoping the WNBA crumbles. However, I recently read something that absolutely takes the cake in terms of male chauvinism and entitlement.
Furthermore, I’ve now determined it is a physical and mental impossibility for me to keep my mouth shut when someone rips the WNBA with no basis or understanding of the game.
Case in point: A writer by the name of Dave Begel penned an article for OnMilwaukee.com today with the title, “Women’s basketball has evolved, but not for the better.“
Compared to other articles bashing the WNBA, Begel’s title is relatively kind. But the entire article might be the single most misogynistic piece on the WNBA that I’ve ever read.
For your enjoyment, I’ve provided a detailed step-by-step account of what went on internally while I read it:
9:01 EST: Ben clicks on the link to Dave Begel’s article out of curiosity. “Eh, I guess I’ll spend a few minutes reading why he hates women’s basketball,” Ben thinks, begrudgingly.
In other words, it’s a typical Tuesday morning.
9:03 EST: After feeling guilty and remorseful for thinking this dude looks like the owl from the Tootsie Pop commercials, Ben doesn’t feel so bad anymore.
“With a nod to Julie Andrews and ‘The Sound of Music,’ here are two of my favorite things:
And then there is women playing basketball, which doesn’t even make the top 1,000 on the list of my favorite things. And please note that getting hit by a car but luckily only suffering a broken ankle does make my list.“
“Okay…this just got interesting,” Ben says out loud.
9:06 EST: Ben finally discovers why Begel is writing this in the first place. It seems there have been rumors floating around Milwaukee (though wildly unsubstantiated) of investors wanting to bring a WNBA team to Wisconsin.
“If there is any truth to this, that’s pretty damn cool,” Ben thinks. “I could see a WNBA team in Milwaukee.”
9:07 EST: Ben’s internal temperature quickly rises. It’s likely the same feeling you get when someone cuts you off in traffic and then (while performing a universally recognizable hand gesture) acts like it was your fault.
“When I was doing my usual amount of thorough research for this column, I had to go online to find out when the Women’s National Basketball Association (known colloquially as the WNBA) played. I wasn’t sure if they played in the dead of winter or the heat of summer or somewhere in between. I think summer is the answer with a slight overlap into early fall.”
All relevant articles from writers who bash the WNBA begin with the author admitting they know nothing of the topic they are writing about, right?
9:08 EST: Ben laughs hysterically after reading the following:
“I’ve thought a great deal about the differences between the men’s game and the women’s game, and why the women’s game puts me to sleep.
Men play like they have jets attached to their shoes, women play like they have cement shoes.
Men play in the air, soaring above the fray, women play like a rugby scrum, unable to slide a piece of paper between their shoes and the floor.
Men slap five when they make a good play, women clap furiously.
Men push and shove and hit each other and dive into the stands, women say ‘ouch’ and kind of wave at balls headed out of bounds.”
Ben thinks three things:
1. Clearly, Begel has never seen a WNBA game.
2. I feel sorry for this dude.
3. For a guy who (just two sentences prior) admitted he had to perform research to see when the WNBA plays, he sure knows a lot about the women’s game.
9:10 EST: “Ah,” Ben says aloud. “Knew this was coming…”
“Just so people know that I am not strictly opposed to women playing basketball, I want to make it clear that I’m only opposed to and bored by them trying to play men’s basketball. I love softball and women’s tennis and skiing and golf and the lingerie football league (Let’s get one of these teams, because these girls can really play) and even women’s hockey. It’s just basketball.”
9:13 EST: Ben wonders if this article is meant as a parody.
“And living up to my life goal of always trying to be nice and help people, let me offer an alternative. An alternative with lots of historic precedent as well.
Women should return to the way they used to play the game. The good old days.
There are six players to a team. Three forwards and three guards. The forwards play on one side of the floor and the guards on the other. The forwards are the offense and the guards are the defense. A foul is called if a player steps over the half-court line.
I am also in favor of making a few other rule changes, all of which have some historical precedent.
Women would be allowed only two dribbles. They would then have to pass or shoot.
A foul would be called if both feet of a player were off the floor at the same time.
If you touch an opposing player, it’s a foul. If you touch an opposing player more than once, it’s an automatic ejection.
And finally, I would add a mercy rule. If the game, which has only one period of 30 minutes, finds one team up by 20 points or more, the game is called and we all go home.”
Ben is perplexed. “How could that in any way, shape, or form be remotely a better brand of basketball?”
This has to be a joke….right? If it was, it certainly went way over my head but I’ll gladly apologize.
9:14 EST: Ben tweets.
The issue with Begel’s column is that it is a microcosm of a so-called “journalistic” perspective from those who ridicule the WNBA. After explicitly stating that he had little knowledge of the women’s game, Begel (in all his narcissism) not only thinks he has a way to fix it, but that there is something wrong with it in the first place.
Begel follows a long line of the typical journalist/writer’s flawed thought pattern in regards to women’s basketball:
1. The WNBA exists.
2. If the WNBA exists, it must be played by women.
3. If the league is played by women, it must not be as good as the men’s league.
4. If it isn’t as good as the men’s league, it needs to be fixed.
5. If it needs to be fixed, then something must be wrong with it.
Begel is no different than the Bill Simmons’s or Jim Rome’s of the world.
The sad part? Until the assumptions stop, neither will these sexist articles.
Still, how long will it be until we can no longer ignore articles like the one Begel wrote? And, perhaps more importantly, why do we continue to make the conscious choice to ignore and/or dismiss them?
Yes, I’m probably giving Begel more page views.
Doesn’t matter to me.
Raising awareness of the continued bigotry in regards to women’s basketball, on the other hand, does.