The team’s center aggressively secures the rebound, creates space, recollects and surges toward the rim for a powerful one-handed dunk over intimidated and cowering opponents.
Momentum-changing power plays are an integral part of the annual March Madness collegiate basketball tournament. The key stat in this scenario, however, does not have to do with points or rebounds or brackets. The player’s name is Brittney. This is women’s basketball.
Brittney Griner’s put-back dunk over Florida State not only sealed a Sweet Sixteen berth for the Baylor Lady Bears, it secured Griner a place in history as only the second woman to ever dunk in a Women’s NCAA tournament game, the first being Stanford’s Candace Wiggins. Despite Griner’s athleticism bringing women’s college basketball to new heights, everyone isn’t a fan.
The YouTube video of Griner’s brawny play has over a thousand views, and yet has 799 dislikes. The video of Griner cracking an opponent across the face during a game her freshman year has 2,000 more views than her historic dunk coupled with 405 likes and 68 dislikes. The disproportionate amount of attention these videos receive shows that Griner losing control and embarrassing herself and her team is more entertaining than her pushing the game of women’s basketball to new heights.
“I’m not mad because she’s a woman and dunking,” one YouTube commenter wrote. “I am mad because she is 6’8 and getting so much credit for dunking like it’s such a huge accomplishment. It would be bigger news if she couldn’t dunk.”
In fact, it is a huge accomplishment, seeing as so few female players before Griner have managed the feat. Yahoo’s newsfeed is filled each day with highlights from the previous night’s NCAA and NBA match-ups, many of which include emphatic dunks by the likes of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum. Griffin is listed at six feet ten inches, with Bynum measuring up at a mere seven feet. But apparently if you’re that tall, people should only care if you can’t dunk.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not Griner’s biggest fan. She goes against almost all the points I made in my debut column, “Play Like A Girl,” where I argue women in sports should handle themselves with respect, which doesn’t include breaking an opposing team member’s nose in aggressive acts of arrogance.
Despite this, I give credit where credit is due — Griner is an amazing athlete and a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court, regardless of her gender.