March 31, 2009

The Land of the Dollar Menu, and of the Free

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Today, unless I’m very much mistaken, is the last day of March. And this means that we at the sports department have been excitedly buzzing over those hallowed diagrams of paper and ink known to sports fans everywhere as the tournament bracket. That’s right everybody, March Madness is upon us! Who did you pick to win? Personally, I picked Missouri, based not really on the basis of talent or overall depth, but rather because I want the team that knocked our brave boys in Carnelian to ride that wave all the way to the national title. There’s something to be said for getting knocked out by the best collegiate basketball team in the country.
I’m willing to bet that the majority of those who care enough to read this column have at least a general sense of how the tournament is going. And as for those of you with bloodshot eyes and brackets on the brain, I know you know what I’m talking about. I mean, how about those Huskies, right? That Renee Montgomery sure is a feisty one, isn’t she? Oh, wait, I’m sorry, did I say she? Let me check … no, no, I’m right; UConn will indeed be playing Arizona State this afternoon with a chance to advance to the Final Four.
Never heard of Ms. Montgomery? Well, why on earth not? The senior guard was a 2008 State Farm First Team All-American last year, as well as an Associated Press Third Team All-America choice, and has earned numerous Big East honors and awards over her illustrious career at the athletics powerhouse. I mean, could it be because … oh, no, it couldn’t be … right? It couldn’t possibly be because she’s a, you know, a girl? Because that would be preposterous, right? We live in the land of equal opportunity, baby. This is America, the land of the Dollar Menu, and the free, and all that.
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here for a second. (And I hope you will please pardon the soapbox, by the way, I have no idea where that thing came from.) The phenomenon that is March Madness has become big business, this is reality. Fast food chains print up NCAA brackets for their Big Gulp cups and tickets to the Big Dance can run into the thousands of dollars.
And yet I can’t help but bridle under the obvious, unchecked bias shown towards the men’s teams, in terms of media coverage and general pop culture attention.
So while even the one-and-out men’s teams were basking in the glow of their newfound celebrity, the women’s side went about its business of playing spectacular basketball, sans the Facebook groups and water cooler office pools.
Of course, I myself am the first to admit a terrible ignorance when it comes to women’s basketball. But I sure as hell recognize their existence — I pay attention when their scores flash ever so briefly across the ESPN ticker. I think Pat Summit is about as close to Superwoman as you can get, if Superwoman favored rather garish pantsuits that is. Actually, she kind of terrifies me. Pat, I know you’ve won more games than God, but please, might you rethink that shade of orange!
Tragic wardrobe choices aside, I don’t think its too much to ask that sports fans remember that March Madness is not an all-male party. Do I have a solution to this problem? Not really. But I do have my righteous indignation — and that’s something nobody can ever take away from me. Except maybe Pat Summit. Seriously, the woman is a beast.