Mark Cuban announced that he will consider women’s college basketball superstar, Britney Griner, for the 2013 NBA draft on the Mavricks. Griner plays for Baylor, where she’s lead them to two-consecutive national championships,broken crazy records, and generally torn up the court. Based on her tweet, she’s game for joining the Mavricks.
As a tall young woman, I played basketball from elementary school through high school. As an young woman with limited athletic skills, I played poorly. (I once tried to rescue a ball from going out of bounds, and wound up smacking it off my own forehead. Yeah.) Regardless, it’s a game I love. I still remember the enthusiasm of young tea & strumpets, when the WNBA was founded. It blew my mind to consider that a woman could play professional sports.
That experience had a profound effect on me. Athletics has not been my life-long passion, but the importance of role models with whom you can identify should not be understated. In 1995, before the WNBA was founded, when I looked at the world of sports, I could always only look on from the outside. It was a world that belonged to men, and the only way I would be allowed on court was at half-time, wearing a sparkly bra and waving pom-poms. But in 1996, like little boys around the country, I had the chance to day dream of playing professional sports. When I looked into the future I saw open doors and possibility. How much damage is done to our young girls when they size up the world and see so many closed doors? Just imagine the astronomical shift for young girls everywhere–athletes or not–to see a woman suited up for an NBA team?
I’m beyond excited at the possibility. I’ll be following along, but in the meantime, I highly recommend this article, on ESPN of all places, about the gender-related BS that Griner has faced, and if drafted to the Mavrick’s will certainly continue to face:
“We disparage female athletes so we don’t have to make room for them,” says Nicole LaVoi, a professor at the University of Minnesota and the associate director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports. “People can’t just say, ‘Wow, Brittney Griner is a great athlete.’ We need to have a caveat: ‘She plays like a guy, she looks like a guy, she must be a guy.’ These qualifiers marginalize what Brittney has done and serve to keep the current pecking order in place, whereby men’s sports are more valued, more culturally relevant — the norm.”
I have no doubt that the jerks would come out of the woodwork if Griner were to play in the NBA. Rarely does a rookie wow everyone; the learning curve is steep. I’m afraid that in the media and among certain fans the allowance for Griner’s to learn to excel at this level would be short at best, but I’m still excited. I’m excited for the much needed conversations about gender and sports that this will prompt, and most of all I’m excited for all the little girls who’ll learn about a newly opened door.