The University at Connecticut is bad for women’s basketball. That’s what many (male) sportswriters and sports personalities would have the world believe as the Huskies breeze into the Final Four all but assured of a fourth straight national championship.
UConn’s dominance has observers hand-wringing over the “state of the game” and bemoaning lack of parity. Never mind that when a men’s team is absurdly dominant (say the Golden State Warriors or the U.S. Olympic team), it’s celebrated as an amazing accomplishment. When a women’s team shows dominance, there’s concern that it will damage the game. It’s another round of paternalistic perspective: We must save the women’s game from irreparable harm.
How much harm is going on? UConn is the only No. 1 seed to advance to the Final Four. First-timers Syracuse (a No. 4) and Washington (a No. 7) advanced to the national semifinal. There were upsets in every round. That’s growth.
Dominance, or more accurately excellence, doesn’t necessarily discourage. It can inspire.