Sunday, January 24, 2010

Take Your Daughter to Sport Day

I am basking in the glow of a glorious sports weekend which involved a total of twenty minutes of the two divisional championship games in the NFL. It started Friday night with a virtuouso performance by Derrick Rose and the Bulls in Phoenix (I had no idea that Rose could get that high and come down that strong), and continued on Saturday morning with the rare opportunity to see mighty Accrington on television for their fourth-round FA Cup match against Fulham at the Crown Ground. We're sponsoring a Stanley player's home and away shirt and, because the team changed its kit manufacturer mid-season, we had just received the player's shirt and a note of thanks in advance of the game. Stanley was fantastic, as were Accrington's supporters, and but for Kempson's silly first half-fouls (and, even then, nothing compared to what Jimmy Conrad did at the Home Depot Center several hours later), Fulham would have struggled to advance against a committed side.

We left in the second half to take our daughter to see the Hoyas play Rutger's Scarlet Knights and were treated to a near pitch-perfect performance from Georgetown. I really, really like this team and very much enjoy cheering for them, but, nevertheless, do not regret giving up our season tickets. Our daughter has enjoyed the two games she has been to this season, I think, principally because it has not been routine. And when she climbed up on her seat to jump up and down applauding Henry Sims' great two-handed slam, I became even more confident that she'll be up for more regular trips when she gets older.

We watched the U.S. lay an egg in Los Angeles against Honduras and spent more time watching another great performance by the Bulls in Houston, woke up Sunday morning to watch Palermo destroy Fiorentina, and, a few hours later, watched a tremendous Inter squad embarrass Milan (Julio Cesar's stuff of Ronaldinho injury-time penalty try is a must see).

But the highlight of the weekend was Sunday night's father-daughter game at Comcast featuring the women of Maryland and Duke. My daughter was tucked into bed after a great half hour of playing with a new train set, but there were plenty of other fathers who were able to take their girls to an unforgettable game. This Terps' team may not be anywhere near the quality of those of the recent past and has been blown out a few times this season (against Miss. St. and the Lady Wolfpack), but they are a team that should not be taken lightly. Although not an aesthetically pleasing game (Duke shot less than 33% from the floor), the Terps showed great resolve and back-to-back three pointers by Lori Bjork were almost enough to ignite what would have been a huge upset over the seventh ranked Blue Devils.

Games like the one played tonight in College Park have made me an unapologetic fan of women's sports. I do not believe that any person could have walked out of Comcast tonight without being thoroughly entertained and impressed by the level of competition on display. And if they could, well, like Dexter's voice in those dumb Dodge ads, I feel sorry for them.

I can no longer tolerate the biting, ignorant criticism of women's athletics that constitutes jovial banter amongst boys... if you can't give basketball (or soccer) a chance when women are playing it, you don't like the sport. Tyrus Thomas was already my favorite player on this unfortunate Bulls' squad, but the bit that Melissa Isaacson revealed in an article earlier this season about Ty's attendance of WNBA games put me firmly in his camp (and even more firmly in the anti-Del Negro camp). Isaacson quotes Thomas as follows:

"It just so happens that two of the girls I went to college with got drafted by the Sky the same year I came here," he said, "but I would've went anyway. I just like basketball. I'll go watch high school, middle school, little kids; I just like to watch basketball. Sometimes you can [get something out of it], actually. I always go to high school games to see if there's something you like or could use."


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