Britney Griner Considered for NBA Draft, aka My Childhood Dreams May Come True

ImageMark 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.

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5 thoughts on “Britney Griner Considered for NBA Draft, aka My Childhood Dreams May Come True

  1. Katie says:

    I don’t watch basketball often, but it would be awesome if she does end up in the NBA. But it’s too bad that women athletes in general don’t have the same kinds of opportunities for athletic careers that men do.

    My sister’s college roommate came really close to making the Olympic hockey team. If there was a national hockey league for women, she’d be playing in it right now. With Title IX, there are more opportunities for college scholarships for girls, but not so many for after graduation.

    The most famous female athletes tend to be athletes in sports focused on individual achievement, like tennis or figure skating, rather than team sports. I think kids could really benefit from seeing women working together in teams. My sister, who played soccer at the time, and I were really into the 1999 Women’s World Cup, and it’s great for young girls who play sports to have someone they can aspire to be.

    Wow, thanks for this post, Kyley. You made me think about an issue I haven’t thought about for awhile!

    • Tea & Strumpets says:

      Thanks for pointing out the individual sport vs team sport aspect of this. I think that’s a really important point. Women’s athletes are often disparaged or ignored because they presumably can’t compete against men, so I’m really excited to see a woman competing, not just against but also with male athletes.

  2. Megan Garvey says:

    Living in Syracuse, NY, there isn’t much to do. Even before me and my brother came around, they always had season tickets to the Syracuse basketball games (which they still have). One of my favorite memories as a kid is going to watch those games (LET’S GO ORANGE), and those winters instilled a love of basketball in me that I often take for granted. Of course, I’m short and terrible, but my brother and I would play for hours with the hoop my dad put up in the driveway.

    However, if you were to ask me, as a child, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell you that I wanted to be a Syracuse Cheerleader. Because that’s as far as I thought women were allowed to get. And that was as close as possible, so that’s where I wanted to be.

    Thankfully, my mom knew better. Sure, she let me dress up as a cheerleader for Halloween, but she also encouraged me to get into other sports. Being on a sports team in high school is a really amazing experience – you have instant friends, and you bond almost instantly, since you have to trust and rely on each other (to move the boat smoothly, in my case). It stayed with me all through college, and as an adult, it is one of the things that I miss most.

    My mom has this great story about Griner, who is local to Syracuse. My dad does the graduation photos for CNS (her high school), and my mom helps out by numbering cards the kids hand her so dad knows who is who when the photos are done. I guess Griner came up in line, and mom saw just her hands as she handed over the card, and was, as she says, “star-struck” at the size of her hands, and then as she looked up, at her height. But never once did my mom say, “she had man hands!!!!”

    • Tea & Strumpets says:

      It’s funny to hear that you, too, thought of being a cheerleader as your entry into the world of sports. It’s also heartening, because I know what an athlete you are. It’s good to remember that a good influence in your day-to-day life (in this case your mom) can often make up for the limitations of the glamorous world on tv, etc.

      Also, I love that your parents’ met her!

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