UConn excellence good for basketball

Sportswriters and sports fans love winning streaks and even losing ones to a lesser extent.

It makes for a compelling story and it’s entertaining to keep track of whether either will continue or come to a halt.

If a men’s college basketball team were to win 100 games in a row, it would mostly likely be a story on every TV sportscast, on the front pages of every sports section and there would be little question over whether or not it is good for the sport in general.

However, if a women’s team does the same, that question does come to mind. The University of Connecticut won its 100th straight game on Monday and had a chance to keep its streak going Saturday.

This is a tremendous achievement, but some have been discrediting it because of the Huskies’ perceived lack of competition. They might have a point as UConn has won the majority of its games by more than 40 points. The Huskies have also only played three games in their last 101 where the margin was less than 10 points, one of which was their last loss.

This makes some people wonder if this streak causes fewer people to care about women’s basketball. It’s not exactly booming with popularity and there are still individuals out there who refuse to pay attention because they think women’s sports are “boring,” which is both inaccurate and misogynistic.

The logic there is that if one team is going to obliterate its competition, why should people buy a ticket or even turn on their television?

The reality is that UConn’s insane amount of success is quite beneficial. With the Huskies dominating at this level, they’re generating more buzz for the sport. There is an interest in women’s basketball, but until the Huskies started their impressive run, you rarely heard it mentioned until the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced.

When you look at other sports, one person’s or group’s success doesn’t really have an effect on interest. When Tiger Woods was on a roll in golf, did people stop watching? Did Roger Federer’s dominance make people stop tuning in to tennis? Did Michael Phelps’ years of excellence in the swimming pool make people not watch Olympics competition?

People like heroes and this high level of excellence can help make people want to be like them.

As much as we love heroes, though, we despise villains even more. We want the big bad frontrunners to be toppled. Some were delighted when the Patriots’ perfect season wasn’t completed a few years back, and there were cheers when the Yankees’ run in the late 1990s and early 2000s came to an end.

UConn isn’t necessarily a team to be hated, but with a 100-game winning streak, people naturally want them to lose. Watching teams win is fun at first, but after awhile, you just want someone to take them down.

Not only that, but it makes teams want to be better. I’m sure every Division I women’s basketball team wants to be the team to topple the Huskies. It gives teams that extra bit of motivation to improve their games. They want to be the team that not only beats UConn, but also replaces them at the top.

So instead of disregarding the Huskies’ achievement and women’s basketball in general, we should embrace it. This kind of dominance rarely comes along in any sport and it is fun to observe.

It also makes you look forward to watching them lose and when it happens, it’ll be something you’ll want to remember.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal. net.

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