Show the Ladies Some Love

When it comes to March Madness, most people are talking about the men—I admit, I’m guilty. In fact, until this year—actually this exact weekend—I didn’t even realize that both the men and women of the NCAA have their Final Four on the same weekend.

To paraphrase a line from the late Rodney Dangerfield, can’t the women get any respect?

When Warren Buffett offered a billion dollar pay-off for anyone who could come up with the perfect bracket, that road to the Final Four only included the men’s teams, not the women’s.

When I saw Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery, were scheduled to play for the women’s tournament here in Nashville, I made a comment to my daughters about whoever booked the entertainment didn’t know their target audience very well. When they asked who I might suggest, Chloe and Taylor laughed out loud when I mentioned Carrie Underwood or Jason Aldean. Seeing who was booked, they didn’t think the women’s tournament had a chance of getting someone at the level of those two country chart toppers and clearly the organizers didn’t either.

Then a post came through my Facebook newsfeed on Friday about the Eli Young Band and Jason Aldean doing a concert for the Final Four! Since I live in Nashville, and the friend who posted lives in Nashville—I naturally assumed they were playing for the women’s Final Four, since that tournament is IN Nashville. Naturally I gloated to my daughters that my earlier suggestion hadn’t been so ridiculous.

But, I couldn’t have been more WRONG!

Last night when I saw folks posting about Kentucky and UConn making it to the championship game, I knew the women hadn’t played yet, and Kentucky was not one of the teams in Nashville. Thus my first realization that both the men and women have their Final Four on the same weekend. With that came the realization that maybe the Eli Young Band and Jason Aldean also hadn’t played for the women here in Nashville.

It gets worse. Not only did I find that those two played in Dallas, TX for the men’s tournament, I also found out their weekend festivities included a THREE DAY MUSIC FESTIVAL! Who is playing in Dallas you ask? In addition to the other two top names they also had Bruce Sprinsteen, fun., Tim McGraw and LL Cool J.

Nashville is frickin’ MUSIC CITY and the best they can do is a couple of winners from The Voice? I’m all for supporting female artists. If women (and girls) supported female artists the way they do male artists, women would rule the world—but that’s a whole different blog post I need to write. Why wasn’t Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kasey Musgraves, Sheryl Crow, and Kelly Clarkson booked for the women’s tournament? Heck, I bet some of the ladies even have Luke Bryan on their playlist. Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery could still be on the bill as support, just like the men had Jack Ingram and Pat Green.

Sad to say, this is just one more arena where women are not treated with the same respect as men.

As I admitted earlier, I myself am at fault for not having realized the big dance for both the men and women takes place on the same weekend. However, not only is the women’s Final Four in Nashville this weekend, my daughters’ best friend from Cedar Rapids, IA is playing for UConn. Yep, UConn made it to both the men’s and women’s Final Four! We’ll be cheering on the Lady Huskies’, Kiah Stokes tonight. I’ve got memories (and videos) of Chloe, Taylor and Kiah having sleepovers during which they belted out Earth, Wind & Fire tunes after discovering the timeless band through Ricky Smith on season two of American Idol—now where are those videos?

TBT_Kiah_FF

Crying Foul–Time For Fans to Play a Little Defense

As a sports fan, it makes me sick if the allegations in Inside ‘The Decision’: Miami’s coup was a ‘surprise’ built on long-coveted goal of James, Wade and Bosh are accurate. “The premise that the trio had been talking about teaming up for months hinted there was a plan in place. That potentially would be against rules, and could raise concerns from the league since Bosh and James were playing for teams battling for the playoffs in Toronto and Cleveland”.

Is this the reason despite having the best record in the league, LeBron James was unable to lead the Cavaliers to the finals? It would be pretty hard for the league MVP to justify leaving had his team gone to the final round two years in a row. Nick Arinson, son of billionaire Heat owner has had access to the three since the World Championships in Japan back in 2004, and is now a “rising executive with the Heat”. Was Heat GM, Pat Riley, really taking a risk the last few years in not signing key players in order to save up the team coffers for a deal such as this, or did Arinson and Wade provide him an inside track to the plan years ago? So much for parity in the NBA (the reason for the draft lottery); David Stern better look into the allegations.

Who knew parties and high paying jobs for athletes friends are part of the bargaining with these mult-million dollar contracts? “It was also made known to James that the Heat would take care of his friends the same way the Cavs did — special treatment at the arena, changing practice and travel schedules to allow for money-making late-night parties in various cities, and perhaps even hiring a James associate in a high-paying position in the organization”. I doubt it’s just the NBA.

No matter what, I say the buck stops with the fans. How, you ask? Fans buy the tickets or watch the games on television and fans buy the sponsors products. Without the promise of fans, there is no such thing as a lucrative professional sports world. One only need look back as recently as the early eighties. The book When the Game Was Ours, points out an NBA rep couldn’t get past the front door of McDonalds and Sprite to make a sponsor pitch before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson came into the league. If there is no fan interest, there is NO MONEY! It’s no coincidence a struggling little company, one of the first to jump on the NBA sponsor band wagon, is now billion dollar sports drink, Gatorade.
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John Wooden: They Called Him Coach

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” Coach John Wooden

Friday night marked the passing of a great man.  Coach Wooden was described as “about as perfect a sports personality as there ever was”, by sportscastor Dick Enberg. But sports fans aside, this man’s lessons reached far beyond the basketball court.

Hall of famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and one of Wooden’s many student athletes remembers, “He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn’t let us do that.” Continue reading

Vikings Should Go Green

Greenbay fans would probably say their NFL rival has already changed color with the acquisition of former Packer quarterback, Brett Favre. But the green I’m thinking of is much more “sustainable” than the color of a jersey, and it would mean sacrificing some of that “purple pride”.

Before I go any further, let me qualify this is not coming from some girl who hates sports. I followed Cedar Falls High school’s basketball team to state my senior year by paying my own bus fare. I made a poster (as only a radical fan would) for Morningside College’s basketball team when they went to the Final IV (Div II) and made the trip to Springfield, MO. I won a national contest to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar play his final game in the NBA by answering eighty “trivia” questions about him. And when I moved back to the midwest from Atlanta, Minneapolis was considered worthy in part, because they had three professional sport franchises (it was before the Wild).

I was caught up in the Twins pennant race at the end of the summer. I think it’s ironic (and cool) a former Laker is now coaching the Timberwolves. And like the rest of the city, I’m thrilled the Vikings national attention this year is for their plays on the field (not off).
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Kobe vs. LeBron

A friend recently said his son wanted to know who was better, Kobe or LeBron.  He went on to challenge me by saying, “Okay Laker fan…Magic right?  Kareem?”

Why must everyone insist on having one athlete be better than another?  As time goes on it’s inevitable someone else will always come along to claim the title of “most dominant” because athletic prowess is susceptible to aging.  
Kobe vs. LeBron

The NBA is littered with dominant athletes throughout it’s history. The real debate probably started with Wilt Chamberlain.  He’s the only player in NBA history to average more than 40 and 50 points in a season or score a 100 points in a single NBA game.  His titles include scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and even assists.

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If It’s Not Funny, Is It Racist?

Can racism be defined in black and white terms (no pun intended) or is it subject to interpretation?

As a Korean adoptee growing up in Iowa, I remember numerous times when kids pulled back the corners of their eyes as a way to make fun of me. Decades later the men’s & women’s Olympic basketball teams from Spain are being called racist for having done this same gesture in a pose for photographs to be used in a publicity campaign for one of their sponsors. Continue reading