One of the stupidest things in sports has popped up again. A dominant female athlete has emerged and all anybody wants to talk about is "How would she do against men?"
In this case, the outstanding female athlete is Baylor basketball star Brittney Griner--whose senior season was cut short by a loss in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to Louisville. Griner finishes her college career as the all-time leading shot blocker and the 2nd all-time leading scorer. She is guaranteed to be the number one overall draft pick in the WNBA Draft and could be a huge draw for a league that has struggled to gain a solid fan base since it was formed.
But that apparently isn't good enough for some people. Enter Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who this week told reporters he was thinking about drafting Griner with a second round pick in the NBA draft (there are only two rounds) and inviting her to play with the Mavs' summer league team in Las Vegas. I'm sure Cuban--who is a very smart guy and a savvy marketer--means all of this as a "compliment" to Griner. "You're so good, why don't you try to play some 'real basketball' with us?" But why not just let her play her own game?
At six-foot-eight with good athleticism, Brittney Griner was the Lew Alcindor of women's college basketball. She completely changed the way the game is played--taking it above the rim on a consistent basis--and proving to be (unless she was held and hacked every time down like she was in the loss to Louisville) a dominating force on both ends of the floor. At six-foot-eight and lacking physical strength, Brittney Griner would be dominated on both ends of the floor in men's basketball.
This belief that female athletes are only "great" if they take on the men has produced failed experiments in the past. Much was made about Manon Rheaume being signed by the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning back in 1992 and even playing goalie in a pre-season game. But all that led to was five seasons bouncing around various men's minor leagues and action in just 24 games. Then you had Michelle Wie--the teenage golf sensation of the last decade, whose money-grubbing father insisted on her playing almost exclusively against professional men--instead of playing junior golf against girls her own age. She never made a cut--much less challenged the guys. And today, Wie looks completely lost on the LPGA, struggling to make cuts and appearing to be generally disinterested in life as a professional golfer.
I'm sure those who push for women to compete against men in sports do so with the misguided belief that they are somehow "advancing the game". But wouldn't the game be "advanced" more by allowing these women to compete--and excell--against their peers playing their own separate--and distinctly different--sports?