Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009

Lower women’s standards

February 16, 2009


Reader poll
Should women's basketball lower the baskets to nine feet instead of 10?

or See the results without voting


Oklahoma, the No. 2 women’s basketball team in the nation, coached by marquee attraction Sherri Coale, made its biennial appearance in Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday night, and one night later, nobody could be heard talking about it in public. Courtney Paris, one of women’s college basketball’s biggest stars, came and went without a murmur about her.

The announced crowd for the game was 4,332, not a bad number, but not worthy of a visit from the No. 2 team in the nation and the sport’s most popular coach. Many of the fans backed Oklahoma.

Yet again, news of the men’s basketball team’s latest victory, a gutsy one in Manhattan, dominated bar talk.

Women’s basketball — the sport in general, not just Kansas University’s perennial lower-division Big 12 program — can’t seem to work its way into the conversation in Lawrence.

I’m here to help.

The sport needs to be overhauled with major rules changes that would create an entirely new look, a far more exciting game. Lower the hoop from 10 feet to nine feet, shorten the court from 94 feet to 80 feet and cut back the halves to 15 minutes from 20 minutes. Men are taller, jump higher and run faster than women, so as long as women play the same game by the same rules, they always will come up short when compared. So invent a new game that better suits the bodies of the athletes who play it.

You think maybe the women’s basketball team would lead Channel 6 sportscasts more often if Aishah Sutherland were throwing down 360-degree slam dunks? Of course it would. Shooting percentages would soar. Fast breaks would be faster. The game would be played above the rim.

Face it, the best way to grow women’s basketball is to shrink it.

I would say it’s amazing nobody has come up with the idea yet, but the truth is many probably have, they just were afraid to express it. Political correctness in the sports world is such that nobody spends much time talking about how to improve women’s basketball for fear of being labeled a sexist pig.

So critics shut up and let their absence from games do their talking for them.

Yet, in real-world professions that require discipline and physically taxing duties, different standards are required from women than from men.

The minimum scores on the Tanner Scale for Physical Fitness used by the military and police forces are different for men and women. It is so because of realism, not sexism.

It’s time for everybody to open his or her mind and let in the idea of lowering the hoops to raise the excitement.

Here’s a challenge for every basketball fan in Lawrence. Purchase a ticket for the Iowa State-Kansas basketball game Feb. 22 at noon. Wear pink to the game, which has been designated “Pink Zone Women’s Basketball Game.” The promotion is designed to raise awareness for breast cancer, and Kansas Athletics will donate $1 for every fan in attendance to support breast cancer treatment and research.

While at the game, ask yourself the following question and answer it honestly: Would you enjoy the game more if the hoops were a foot closer to the floor?


Omegatron 9 years, 3 months ago

"I’m here to help.

The sport needs to be overhauled with major rules changes that would create an entirely new look, a far more exciting game. Lower the hoop from 10 feet to nine feet, shorten the court from 94 feet to 80 feet and cut back the halves to 15 minutes from 20 minutes. Men are taller, jump higher and run faster than women, so as long as women play the same game by the same rules, they always will come up short when compared. So invent a new game that better suits the bodies of the athletes who play it."

Most people don't have access to adjustable goals except in a major facility. Parks and school yards are all fixed at ten.

Shorting the court by 14 feet will require adjusting the length of the free throw lane by x-amount so that rebounds can still be made after a missed free-throw, require the adjustment of the three-point line, reduce the amount of space between the three-point line, the half court strip and the side out of bounds line, require moving of both baskets x-amount onto the court prior to each game, reduce the amount of pre-game practice area, require coaches to have to rewrite playbooks, adjust practices...

Omegatron 9 years, 3 months ago

To elaborate.

Shrink the court by 14 feet, means moving the end lines seven feet onto the court, means moving the baskets seven feet onto the court to the new end lines, means painting a new free throw line plus seven feet behind the current one, means moving the current three point line seven feet closer to half court.

Unless you (Tom Keegan) are advocating that women can't shoot free throws from the current distances and think the free throw line should be closer as well (for better percentages).

Every school in the country uses the same facility for both sports. I guess if you move the game to another facility other then the fieldhouse your plan would work.

But, I don't think you will have much support (assuming the sport stays at the fieldhouse) once people actually look at your plan and see how mutilated the floor will have to become in order to satisfy your suggestion.

Recommend getting back to the drawing board....

mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

We wanted to go to the game, as we wanted to see Courtney Paris and how the Hawks handle her. But it didn't work out, and we were able to watch it from our home.
But we watch most of our KU games, men and womens, from our couch. Even though women's games are more affordable, they are sometimes less convenient to attend.
Maybe Keegan ought to talk to the students and see what the problem is with attendance.

JayhawkAlum03 9 years, 3 months ago

As a long-time Kansas Basketball fan, I think the problems are less in the sport in general and more in the way that women's basketball is presented at Kansas, and the lack of long-term success of KU's women's program.

Take, for example, the recent Oklahoma - Tennessee game. This location was actually moved to accommodate the turnout for these top teams...and over 12,000 people made it for that game. If you look at attendance averages for this season, Tennesse would be #15 among all teams (men's and women's)...only 2 spots behind Kansas. At Oklahoma, 3rd among women's teams, the men's and women's attendance is nearly equal and both are top teams in the country right now.

Now, on to KU in particular...we have had some good seasons, but nothing that meets the standard of success for Kansas Basketball - final fours and runs at the national championship. Until we are able to get closer to that level, the comparison will always be skewed because of fans' wider knowledge base of the men's program. As for why there wasn't a massive turnout on Saturday, I think that there was a lack of knowledge and successful promotion around the game. Few people that I spoke to knew anything of the game and Oklahoma's status as a top team.

Then there's the game-day atmosphere. KU does sometimes does a good job of getting people to attend their first game. The problem is getting them to come back to games 2, 3 and 4, and make attendance a habit. While the men's team enjoys established cheers and traditions, the women's team has a revolving door problem...people come out, expect the atmosphere of a men's game, are disappointed when it doesn't meet that level, and often don't return. While the cheerleaders do make an effort (although they often lead slow-motion cheers/chants during the game), a more organized effort to involve fans and get a core group of attendees and students would help. With students admitted free, it would be nice for the athletics department to reach out to create a strong base of student attendees that would help establish traditions and up the fan excitement level.

So..that's the short version. My conclusion is that changes to the women's game in general are in no way necessary. This is the game that we have all grown up with. Changing this to a "lower" standard will only drive more fans away and make the sport the butt of jokes and widen the gap between the men's and women's game..."see, they couldn't play basketball, so they had to make up their own sport." That would cripple the game for generations to come.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 3 months ago

Here's something that would likely be even more effective-- have the JW assign three reporters to regularly cover the team, with 3 or more articles a day, covering every minute detail-- just like the men's team. Televise each and every game.

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

Okay, let's be honest. Women's basketball is boring, especially when compared to men's basketball. Women's bball is slow and painful to watch. It's almost as bad as golf. Sure, it might be interesting if you know someone who is playing. Otherwise, it's only a means to get into the Allen Fieldhouse. That's my opinion. If you enjoy it, then go for it.

rgh 9 years, 3 months ago

You are not giving women enough credit where credit is due. I'm guessing there is not one coach who would agree with this article.

Can you also say Title IX? Shorter distances on swimming events; a smaller soccer field; smaller tennis courts; less distance in track meets or a 380 meter track; etc., etc. The only thing you could probably get by with is to actually make the men's baskets higher as they do for the men's net in volleyball, but the court is still the same size.

Softball is different because every aspect of the game is different, not just because they are women, plus not all fences are the same distance in baseball. Men's fast pitch is also different than baseball.

Anyway, let's not complicate this, just get out and support the team they same way they do in Tennessee and Texas. A smaller court and lower goals wouldn't entice me to attend more games than I currently do (yes, I do attend women's games).

Omegatron 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't know why ljw is surprised at the lack of discussion about the KU vs. OU game.

The game wasn't hyped by them. Article's about that game wasn't produced til game day.

Went to to look at the next game box that they have on the front page and it showed the next men's game.

Most people I talked to didn't even know the game happened a couple of days after the fact.

Nice strategy though, blame the fans in order to cover for ljworld's "lower standards" when it comes to covering women's sports.

beawolf 9 years, 3 months ago

Winning cures everything. I coached HS girls for 20 years. We had some very successful seasons and out attended the boys by a substantial margin.

When I took over the program they had gone through 10 years of losing and the administration was considering moving the games to the Middle School gym. Only parents and few students were attending (50-100). After a few winning seasons and a couple of Regional championships we constantly drew full houses.

LT21 9 years, 3 months ago

This came off as a very irresponsible column that was poorly organized and loosely defended about a very sensitive subject. The tone was very defensive, and I felt mentally attacked ("face it.." "shut up...". Rereading it; it sounds like a joke, a very bad joke. It's embarrassing for something so poorly written about basketball to come out of Lawrence, KS. This is comical because TK comes across very defensive in the article, yet he does very little to defend his point (1 point about military standards, provides no actual reference data, Men do x number of pushups, women do y number of pushups) or consider the logistics of any change. I have very little (none) journalistic training, which makes me about as creditable in critiquing your article as you had in writing it.

"I'm here to help."

Offer points that help defend your ideas.

1st. Women's sports often have different rules than men's. In tennis, women play 3 sets, not 5. This could be a good argument for shortening the game. In volleyball, the net is lowered to allow easier spiking. Both points that the journalist fails to make.

2nd. In college basketball there are already differences between the men's and women's game. Women use a smaller ball, there is no back court violation and have a shorter shot clock (30s vs 35s for men). These seem to be related facts that a columnist might want to offer.

Personally, I don't think a game needs to be shortened or the floor be changed. Logistically this would be nearly impossible. Would KU women want to abandon Allen FH for a makeshift court in Horesji? Shortening the court between games would make the court look ridiculous. Who wants to play on "aismith Cou"? If this can't happen in a well-funded athletic dept, how can you expect this to happen in the poorest of high schools.

If lowering the hoop were to happen, it would have to occur at the younger levels. Sports can progressively make rules changes that make a sport appropriately more difficult (moving the 3 point line, lengthening the game, adding a shot clock) but they cannot make it easier from one level to the next. Adjusting the rim to 9 feet or 9.5 feet might make sense and might be possible logistically with small design changes in high school baskets. It might be digested a little easier if the height of the rim is compared to the height of the players (avg woman 5'5" avg man 5'10") rahter than athletic ability.

The women's game is different than the men's, college is different than the pros. Tyler hansbrough will not be Lebron James. If people stopped trying to compare the men's and women's game, expectations will change. Different levels can exist together. Some people love college ball and others the pros. College bball isn't exciting bc of the dunking, it's exciting bc of the 3 point shot and defense. Make changes to the women's game that will make the women's game better, not to make it more like the men's.

mytwocents 9 years, 3 months ago

or maybe KU men's basketball fans should support women's sports. maybe women's games should be put on television so I can watch them from the comfort of my favorite bar. Or maybe the team should change their uniforms to a nice bikini number like American Olympic volleyball... is that what it's going to take for people to take women's athleticism seriously?

Oh and the editor missed adding an important word in this phrasing, "SOME men are taller, jump higher and run faster than women..."

Omegatron 9 years, 3 months ago

"Offer points that help defend your ideas."

Lowering the basket is not a defensible position. The only category that would benefit is the slam dunk category.

All other categories the competition is basically the same.

Raider 9 years, 3 months ago

Tom, this is probably one of the most jack-assed columns you've written (and there have been some doozies by you).

Women's college basketball is alive and well, and in most places thriving. The Big XII is the strongest conference in the country right now in terms of women's hoops. This leage is a top power every year.

The problem with KU women's hoops is that hardly anyone in the KU family (students, alumni, Lawrence, etc) give a damn about anything other than the men's basketball team. You're talking about a University that didn't even sell out its homecoming game this year in football. And that's with a defending Orange Bowl champion team and a top 10 opponent (TX Tech) in town. There were still probably 4k empty seats in Memorial at kickoff..

So no, Tom, the women's game doesn't need to be revamped. The attitude of the KU fans needs to be changed. A little bit better coverage by your staff at the LJW and it's sistermedia outlet, Channel 6 News, would probably help things a little bit.

It would also help if a winning product were placed on the court, but that is up to Coach Bonnie and her players. They're playing in the toughest conference in the nation. And you can't tell me that OU, Baylor, Tech, UT, ISU, KSU and other strong Big 12 teams are having attendance issues.

Sherry Coale, Pat Summit, Kim Mulkey-Robinson might all have some arguments for you about not changing the rules. Why don't you write this column in another Big XII city, or maybe even Knoxville, TN. See what kind of reader reaction you get there.

Omegatron 9 years, 3 months ago

"Why don't you write this column in another Big XII city, or maybe even Knoxville, TN. See what kind of reader reaction you get there."

Please god no!

You're already to much of a local embarrassment. Last thing we need is for you to make a jackass of yourself on the national stage!

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