Last night I was pleasantly surprised to see Lisa Leslie on Sportscenter discussing motherhood, whether women will ever play in the NBA, and her trip to the White House.
My first thought was, hey, this is great exposure for the WNBA, especially given that the pre-season is starting up next week.
My second thought was, wait, when was the last time they asked an NBA player – or any male athlete -- about managing fatherhood and professional sports?
My third thought was, whoa, they didn’t even mention that the season was coming up (training camps open May 17)…that’s odd…
OK, that’s not entirely fair – the interviewer did say, “Now with the season going on how do you handle being a mother with the season.” And Leslie did respond, “That’s why I chose to retire this year.”
But folks, I’m sorry – this is ESPN and I’ve seen plenty of these Sunday Conversations. They are typically about the athlete and the game. To not even ask a question about the WNBA’s upcoming season strikes me as odd. I won’t necessarily say it’s problematic because it was Mother’s Day afterall…but let’s just say… odd.
But then I reverted back to my second thought – what does it say about us as a society when male athletes who play longer seasons almost never mention bringing their kids along with them, much less sharing advice about taking care of their kids? Shouldn’t we have higher expectations for fathers at some point?
Which gets to the following point made by Full Court Press correspondent Sue Favor:
What it will likely mean is that there will be lots of children at practices and on road trips. Christofferson, an attorney, said it puts her and her players on par with mothers everywhere.Yes, it does put them on par with women in other professions -- the expectation that women need to be superwomen with amazing juggling skills.
"The fact is that we're struggling with the same thing as women in all professions," she said. "In some ways it's easier because we have more flexibility in our schedules, but in other ways it's harder because we have to travel."
Oh well...ESPN is on a roll with their portrayal of WNBA players...
I thought Leslie's response to the question of whether women will play in the NBA one day was interesting: "We hope not. Because there's no need for that...you would really need to be on something to make it out there." "Integrating" the NBA and supporting the WNBA is the difference between equality and equity. I am all about equity -- support a league for women to play in, not a few individuals riding NBA benches...
Malcolm Gladwell did an excellent job of firing people up about girls basketball. The latest to chime in is Brian McCormick who writes the Crossover Movement blog (among other things)...and he makes an interesting point:
As 12-year-olds, the press is fine. The problem, however, is that many girls in this league start at 8-years-old and they are unable to handle a press four years later. The problem isn’t the one team that presses with 12-year-olds: the problem is that for four years, players have done the same things playing with the same rules and they have not developed the skills necessary to make inbounds passes under pressure or pass out of a trap.Somewhere someone must have written a spiral curriculum for age appropriate skills to teach young basketball players. And yes, if coaches were thinking in terms of developmental skill building, they should be able to handle a press by 12. But now I need to actually read this Gladwell piece rather than absorbing the opinions of others...
I question the coaching methods of the team because they admitted to making no attempt to develop their players’ skills. However, the other team’s complaints are unjustified, as players should have basic skills by 12-years-old. Defense will still be ahead of the offense, but if coaches teach skills each year, it starts to balance out.
The problem, I imagine, is that in previous seasons, the complaining coaches sat back in zone defenses and ran set plays and spent all practice memorizing set plays and different defenses to win their games, so their kids never developed basic skills either. When they faced a press, they were ill-equipped to handle the press.
Players need to develop skills. They need to be taught how to handle pressure and develop passing and ball handling skills. 12-year-olds should be developing proper shooting technique.