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I recently spent a week in Florida doing some training just before the holidays. While attending classes and learning research skills with things like quantitative and qualitative analysis, I did a little basketball research of my own.
It never takes me long to start talking about basketball hoping that someone would be willing to engage in my conversation. A couple of the guys were basketball fans so we began talking about college hoops. They asked me if I followed the college game and I told them I mostly follow the women's pro league. (Although that doesn't mean I don't know what is going on in the college game) They asked why. The first thing that came to mind was that the women's pro game is the one league that I could really identify with. There is just something about the professional game that appeals to me whether it is the team concept, work ethic, relationship with the fans, or more importantly, the all out passion of the fans, players, coaches, and owners.
Another topic of my informal research was recognizable players. The first player the guys mentioned was Sheryl Swoopes, although they had no knowledge of her recent accomplishments. Then the next person to come up was "that white girl from UCONN" so I started to name a few as there has been many great players from UCONN of all races. It turned out to be Rebecca Lobo, another pillar of the WNBA. I almost expected the next person to be the third of the big three first signed to the WNBA but was surprised to hear the name of Jackie Stiles. I told them that I really hoped Jackie made it back to the WNBA and they asked me why. They had no knowledge of her injuries. Then it hit me, each of these women mentioned were known by this group of guys for their college careers and not their pro careers. I should have seen it coming.
I think these guys knew was the tradition and history of the college game (and
a few women's sports center highlights interspersed with the guys during March
Madness). Which I think is only now beginning to take root in the WNBA. Ten years
is only a small amount of time when you compare it to Tennessee or Texas Tech
or any other storied college program and their following. However, if it continues
to be nurtured by passionate leadership it can't help but grow and our players
will have full recognition not just for their college exploits. I really like
what Mechelle Voepel at ESPN.com had to say about the trend of teams being run
by passionate people. She wrote, "At this point, it seems as if any subsequent
owners of WNBA teams are going to be people who really, really want to do this,
who have a specific passion for the sport on the women's side."
I think the same can be said of the long term fans and players…all of which are unquestionably sold out for this sport. What will it take for the others to come over? …time, media coverage and the longevity of those really passionate people.
a happy new year, don't forget to shoot a few hoops in 2007!
Lisa Leslie as she starts a family
Theresa Edwards in her new position.
I just moved for the second time in two months. However even the current location is temporary. In six months I am joining an organization called Book of Hope International, where I will be even more nomadic, bringing a message of positive choices to school children around the world.
I say all this to say that I understand the migrant life some of our WNBA players. Living in one climate for several months, traveling back "home" once in a while, then going to perhaps another climate and culture for another period of time. I enjoy reading some of the players travel blogs, especially the first time travelers. Lately, I am amused by several of the players learning how to drive stick shift (Sophia Young, Cathrine Kraayeveld). Just like Cathrine, I lived in Belgium just out of college. And of course, I brought my basketball with me and even found some courts to use. However, I also had to learn to drive manual transmission in Europe. It took me a few months to really get it. I have many such stalling-out stories. The most embarrassing was behind a group of Japanese tourist in the center of Brussels. However, I have driven stick ever since. Once you get it anything else doesn't feel like real driving.
Here are some of my European driving tips for basketball nomads:
1. Roads are narrower, speed is faster, cars are smaller. It is actually dangerous to be driving too slow on some of the highways.
2. The red circle signs with the number in it, is the speed limit (in kilometers).
3. There are priority roads marked with yellow bordered, diamond shaped signs where you have the right-away. Then there are non-priority roads which are unmarked side streets. Non-priority roads are the ones where all roads on the right have the right-away. Even if you are on a straight road you must slow down or stop for turning traffic. (there are no signs to tell you this)
4. Use the parking brake for hill starts especially if you are still getting a "feel" for the clutch.
5. Watch out for alternating parking. You park on one side of the street the beginning of the month,1-15, and the other side of the street the end of the month,16-31. The blue and red parking signs will have numbers on it and an arrow.
6. Watch for traffic cameras….if you run a red light you will get a ticket in the mail. These are much more prevalent in Europe then in the states.
1. You can travel with a ball, just be sure you deflate it for the plane trip and bring a portable pump with needle.
2. Bring photos of your friends, family, pets and favorite places from home. (small purse sized album). This is a great conversation starter especially when language is a problem, you can show others your life.
3. Bring Peanut butter. You can find most any kind of snack in Europe but not peanut butter although nutella is a great substitute which most European stores carry.
Props to Ruth Riley for her reports from Africa. Definitely a team worth joining.
Props to SI writer, Rick Reilley's Nothing but Nets campaign. www.NothingButNets.net
The original Thanksgiving was a celebration of a first harvest after their first summer in a new land. Little did those first colonist know that in the same part of the world several generations later, a game would be invented that would be played world-wide. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving I give you my first blog and while there are many things in life to be truly grateful for (and believe me I am) I will limit this to the topic of basketball.
1. I am thankful for a chance to finally share my basketball thoughts with those that actually care. My brother is thankful too because now I won't pester him with random WNBA trivia and news.
2. I am thankful that the NBA saw a great opportunity after the 1996 Olympics
and capitalized on it. I am also thankful that they stuck with it all these years
and continue to back this venture because it is giving a lot a girls something
to shoot for that those of my generation did not have.
3. I am thankful
for ten years of awesome basketball and that we got to see a glimpse of some really
great players before they hung up their sneakers; like Cynthia Cooper, Kym Hampton,
and Jenn Gillom, just to name a few.
4. I am thankful for the evolution
of the women's game with Paul Ball in Phoenix to the more athletic players that
are coming into the league like D. Taurasi, Tweety, and the future coming of Candace
Parker (I can't wait to see what she brings although we are going to have to wait
a few years).
5. And lastly I am thankful that the WNBA chose to webcast some games last season. Without those webcasts I and many others like me with limited cable would not have been able to see some great teams play.
a great Thanksgiving, shoot a few hoops, and enjoy the season.