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Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

Keegan: Women worthy of a visit

February 14, 2008

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KU women top Buffs

Back in late January, it was the Kansas women surrendering a ten-point advantage to Colorado in Boulder. Tonight, Bonnie Hendrickson's squad laced 'em up for their second installment with CU within the friendly walls of Allen Fieldhouse. Enlarge video

Hawks up against CU for round two

A rematch takes place tonight in Lawrence when the Colorado women face Kansas. 6Sports reporter Kevin Romary joins us live from the Fieldhouse for pregame talk and trivia. Enlarge video

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) seemed so outraged during Wednesday's televised Roger Clemens hearings that performance-enhancing drug injector Brian McNamee acknowledged he lied to baseball reporters from various newspapers.

Please. I spent 18 years of my life scribbling lies from people who make their living in baseball. When the choice is either cover your tail and lie or tell the truth and face harsh consequences, many choose the former. It's easier.

You never quite get used to being told lies, but you learn to live with it while sifting through the baloney in pursuit of the facts. Sometimes even sports editors, many of whom will tell you they chose journalism as their profession because they live to expose the truth, choose to lie rather than expose themselves to unflattering charges. This I discovered, much to my chagrin, by reading results of a survey that was part of a published research paper that essentially whined about the lack of coverage given to women's sports in daily newspapers.

The specific number escapes my wrinkled memory, but it was an overwhelming minority - maybe even less than 10 percent - of sports editors who answered "yes" to the question: "Do you believe men are superior athletes to women?"

By telling the truth and answering in the affirmative, they would have risked being labeled a sexist. So they took the path of least resistance and answered no, figuring they never would be criticized because to criticize them would be to run the risk of being labeled a sexist.

Of course men are superior athletes to women. Otherwise, why would there be a need to split athletic leagues based on gender? Just make every league co-ed, choose the best players, and cut the rest. Doing so, of course, would spell the end of women competing in sports, which would be tragic.

Title IX, though it indirectly led to the death of some programs - men's swimming and tennis at Kansas University come to mind - has benefited society. Its trickle-down effect has led to increased participation in youth sports by girls, enabling them to form friendships, develop leadership and teamwork skills and experience all the other benefits of athletics.

Yet, the growth of women's sports is stunted by studies that gripe about less coverage of them than of men's sports. The comparisons are irrelevant. Coverage reflects interest levels. At Kansas, the men's team sells 16,300 tickets for every game. The average announced crowd for the 13 women's games this season has been less than 2,567.

Big-time winning would spark big-time interest in KU women's basketball and result in much bigger crowds. More outcomes such as Wednesday night's impressive 70-59 victory against Colorado would help.

Coach Bonnie Henrickson (17-41 in Big 12 games), paid $635,000 in this, her fourth season, hasn't assembled enough Big 12-caliber athletes yet to produce a winner, but don't look for Lew Perkins to make a change anytime soon. Perkins' right-minded patience with Mark Mangino was rewarded with a 12-1 season and Orange Bowl championship.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but next season's freshman class is supposed to be Henrickson's best and most exciting.

There is reason to believe that 5-foot-3 point guard Angel Goodrich of Tahlequah, Okla., will be the most exciting KU women's basketball player in years. Aishah Sutherland, a 6-foot-2 forward from Perris, Calif., vows she one day will dunk in a game.

On the existing roster, do-it-all sophomore wing Danielle McCray is a future All-Big 12 performer, and 6-5 freshman center Krysten Boogaard has the potential to develop into a star. Sophomore wing Sade Morris is a skilled complementary player. Think I'm just another sports editor telling a lie to stave off the political correctoids? Suspicious of my reads on McCray, Boogaard and Morris? Come see for yourself Sunday when KU plays Nebraska in Allen Fieldhouse as part of a national "Think Pink" promotion to raise money for breast cancer charities. For every fan who attends Sunday's 2 p.m. game, Kansas Athletics will donate $1 to the Breast Cancer Center at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The first 5,000 fans will be given a pink T-shirt courtesy of LMH.

The players, who will be dressed in pink uniforms trimmed in blue, would be stoked beyond belief if the promotion drew a crowd of 10,000-plus. It would give them and local sports fans a taste of what it would be like if women's hoops ever caught on here, and it would contribute to a cause that saves lives.

If you've never been to a women's basketball game, this would be a good time to try one out. If you find it's not your thing, at least you will have given to charity and created a most memorable afternoon for a group of hard-working athletes. Wear pink, just in case you are not among the first 5,000 spectators to show up.

"Bring 100 of your closest friends on Sunday," Henrickson urged while doing her postgame radio interview broadcast over the Allen Fieldhouse loudspeakers.

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