I have thought about this topic a lot. As an athlete and a major sports junkie, I understand why men's professional leagues dominate and why in our current society more people are drawn to them, but that doesn't mean our female athletes shouldn't get the recognition they deserve. I thought about writing this piece yesterday, but didn't feel it, but tonight, after just writing something about college athletics, something else has set me over the top. I had to get my thoughts down.
Duke's Field Hockey team, currently in season, just beat the #1 team in the country, who also happens to be the institution's rival, in a shootout, yet isn't the lead story on the athletic website. The lead headline (the first thing you see), is Coach Mike Krzyzewski and a handful of basketball players being interviewed about practice. Yes, Duke, I get that men's basketball is your main draw, but give me a break. They aren't in season and you're top ten ranked field hockey team just beat the #1 team in the country!!!!!!! Your field hockey goalie, who happens to be from here, had 22 saves in a remarkable effort to pull out this win, yet it isn't your lead story. I just don't get it. It's more clear on the pro level, but this is your own institution pulling off a shocker, and yet visitors to your page don't see that right away right after it just happened.
Something like this happened the other day as well. You have a female athlete here at Duke who happened to get named to the US National Team for four games. We aren't talking the U19 or U21 teams, we're talking TEAM USA, yet it went completely under the radar. Wouldn't you think that would be the lead story on your website? Your athlete got named to TEAM USA!!! Think about it. But wait, the lead story had to be about weekly football awards, and though I genuinely like and respect those guys, love football, and think that the football player featured is an extremely talented young man who could potentially play at the next level, it was a weekly award. The other is the US National Team. Conference weekly award vs. your entire country's national team. Tough call Duke.
This happened on ESPN recently as well. Though ESPN at least shows WNBA playoff highlights, Brittney Griner hit a turnaround game winning jumper with 4 seconds left, something massively celebrated in the NBA, it deserved more credit. The shot allowed the Phoenix Mercury to pull off the series upset of the Los Angeles Shock who are lead by Candace Parker, the league MVP. Griner, who also came out as a lesbian after the WNBA draft, did not get the same respect for her courageous step as the male athletes coming forward now. I get the heightened homophobia in male athletics, but give the woman some credit.
I know I only had a few examples, but give these ladies some credit. They're super talented. I know they do not have the pro sporting opportunities, but when they do they should be more widely known. And Duke, in my opinion, you should know better. What happened tonight and what has happened recently deserves more credit. These ladies can more than play. Let the rest of us know that.