Last night, with a win over the South Carolina Gamecocks, the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Team extended its already epic win streak to 100 wins. That 100th win encompasses more than two straight years of victories, the vast majority of which were earned by beating opponents by 40 or more points. It surpasses the team’s old streak of 90 games by a nice round number of 10 and beats the longest win streak by a men’s college basketball team by twelve. The Huskies have weathered injuries, close calls and changes in talent to reach this unprecedented mark. It’s truly awe-striking.
Last week, in the midst of talks about equal pay and how good women’s basketball is getting, there was also talk about basketball rims. Yup, basketball rims; you know, the usually orange, shiny things that basketballs are shot through. Chicago Sky star, Elena Delle Donne, reignited a conversation that originally began in 2012 with University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. Auriemma’s and Delle Donne’s solution to improving and drawing more attention to women’s basketball is to lower the rim. Their theory goes that if women can dunk (play “above the rim”), more people will watch women’s basketball. In support of this theory, Delle Donne points to the different sex-based standards in tennis (where women play fewer sets in grand slams) and golf (where women’s tees are set closer to the hole). While both Delle Donne’s and Auriemma’s track records confirm that they both are coming from places of genuine concern for growing women’s basketball, their solution is completely misguided. It’s misguided not for their lack of experience or goodwill, but because it’s based on at least one false premise, that if women play more like men, more people will watch.