Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.
I do not care what sport we are talking about, a win streak of 77 games (and counting) is legendary. The feat that the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has already accomplished, even if it should end tonight, is nothing short of amazing.
As a result of this historic run, the Lady Huskies and the University of Connecticut stand to benefit greatly. The attention this accomplishment has garnered for their women’s basketball program, and their school in general, along with the accolades already won by the team, will help to maintain successful recruiting for the program for many years to come. That, however, is where the benefit stops.
I won’t go so far as to say that this story is “bad” for women’s college basketball in general. I don’t think this story will cause any fans to LEAVE the game. However, it will not technically be “good” for the sport either, because when all is said and done this will not have changed public opinion or interest for women’s college basketball one way or the other.
Forgive my bluntness, but the VAST MAJORITY of the sports-viewing public simply does not care about women’s college basketball, and this is not a story that will attract new fans to the game.
Want proof that nobody cares about this story? Just scan the front pages of major sports news outlets on the Internet and try to find ANY reference to the streak OR to women’s college basketball in general. As I write this article, here is what you will find (keep in mind that the streak is still alive, and the championship game takes place TODAY):
Sports Illustrated’s front page has stories about Duke’s national championship, the NBA Hall of Fame inductees, several stories about various baseball games, and a story about the Lakers’ head coach, Phil Jackson, being fined $35K for criticizing referees. No women’s college basketball here…
ESPN has, in addition to the coverage of Duke and Phil Jackson’s fine, stories about Donovan McNabb’s contract negotiations with the Redskins, Milwaukee Bucks’ center Andrew Bogut’s hand injury, and Tiger Woods’ denial of taking HGH. No women’s college basketball here, either (Editor’s Note: Interetsing because UConn’s championship game is ESPN’s primetime content tonight.)…
None of those outlets even MENTION women’s basketball, even though the championship game is today and UConn’s win streak is still alive. In fact, the reference I could find on any major sports outlets’ front-page is at USA Today, where there is a small blurb linking to a story about the matchup between UConn forward Maya Moore and Stanford forward Nnemkadi Ogwumike, but you have to scroll about half-way down the page to find where it is buried.
The fact is that this run, no matter how impressive it has been, has not garnered any interest at all for the sport of women’s basketball. Anybody who watches the championship game tonight would have watched it whether this streak was at stake or not. NOBODY will tune in because of the streak… it is as simple as that.
Do you remember Ken Jennings?
His record-breaking championship run on the game show Jeopardy warranted the occasional anecdotal reference while it was ongoing, but it did not drive fan-interest in the overall product. Seriously, can you name one person who NOW watches Jeopardy because they became a fan after being drawn in by the story of Ken Jennings? Can you even find one person who knows how long Jennings’ streak was, how much money he won, or who beat him? I can’t.
Just as Ken Jennings’ championship run has amounted to nothing more than a pop-culture trivia tidbit of information, the UConn Lady Huskies’ win-streak will amount to nothing more than a sports trivia tidbit of information (which after a couple years, ironically, will only be remembered by the likes of Ken Jennings).
This is a tremendous accomplishment, and it is one that the women of UConn should be EXTREMELY proud of. The sport of women’s college basketball, however, needs much more than a simple story about a record win-streak if they hope to drive fan interest. When the Lady Huskies lose again this win streak will become nothing more than another statistic. It will fade into dust-covered irrelevance and we will not hear about it again until another team comes along (probably not for another 30 years) to challenge their record.
By the way – Lost and American Idol are both on tonight!