Good for Basketball

Steph Curry & Sabrina Ionescu competing in an NBA Competition. Photo from SportingNews.

The Battle of the Sexes is over. That is, we have reached the point where women and men might compete against each other and both be taken seriously. Where a woman might break a man’s record, a man might beat a woman only by the skin of his teeth, where everyone might watch the contest and come away thinking–that was fun! that was competitive! That was No Joke.

Steph Curry and Sabrina Ionescu went head to head in a 3 point basketball contest last night as part of the NBA All-Star weekend. Steph won. Steph “edged” Sabrina, as some headlines carefully point out. But NBA fans were “in awe” of both shooters, which is where this ought to be.

Sabrina imitated Steph after beating his record.

Who Are These People?

In case you don’t follow basketball, let me fill in a few of the blanks. Steph Curry is the greatest shooter in basketball history–at least according to Golden State Warriors announcers and fans like me. Steph already passed the NBA all-time 3-point leader (Ray Allen) years ago. He’s 25% ahead of that record. And he’s still playing.

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Too Much Games, Not Enough Sports

I hate to be a cranky ol’ lady, but I’m getting kind of tired of all the sports with so little sports. There’s too much talking about nothing, too much wagering on nothing, and too many things to watch, when there’s even professional tag.

Yappin’ Heads

I was at the gym, putting on my swimsuit, which is a bit time-consuming, so I had a good solid seven minutes to listen unwillingly to the pontificating talking head on the sports channel. He was talking about the poll of college football teams and commenting on the rankings and how they might change depending on who won which game.

Now, I gotta be honest. I don’t care. I went to Cal, whose football team’s goal is to beat Stanford, and that’s that. I went to Chicago, where they had no football team–I don’t even think we had a mascot, did we? (Actually, we did. It’s the phoenix. Of course, the Nobel Prize University would have a f’ing cerebral mascot! )

Still, suppose I did care. Suppose my team was one of those in those rankings or I followed college football. The guy went on for SEVEN MINUTES about these rankings in the following manner:

Now, this choice of ‘Bama being #7 is an interesting choice. Kind of a surprise there. I would have thought maybe higher. But here’s how, if ‘Bama doesn’t beat Oregon in the Viagra Big 13 Championship tomorrow, you’re going to wonder why they made this choice. On the other hand, maybe ‘Bama will win. It’s hard to say. It’s an interesting one. Now on this next one….

What the hell is he talking about? It is already stupid that there is a “ranking,” where numbers are chosen almost at random by an anonymous group of people, and it’s already stupid that they’re spending so much time talking about it. But if you’re going to analyze something, then analyze it.

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The Greatest Rematch You Didn’t See

Claressa Shields & Savannah Marshall elevate women’s boxing. Photo by Tom Jenkins/The Observer.

Imagine you’re eleven years old and live in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country. Gun violence surrounds you. Father in prison, mother with substance abuse problems, kids at school throw your homework in the trash. Even the tap water is poisoned. You learn to stick up for yourself; you learn to fight back. Then, you find out you can fight in a gym–hallelujah! Except that you’re a girl.

Fast forward six years, and the gym has let you, Claressa Shields from Flint, Michigan, hang around and learn some things. No longer a punk little kid, you’ve been fighting with the gloves on, boxing for six years. In some sports, you’d be called a prodigy, but this sport isn’t for girls, isn’t for ladies, so you get no respect.

Shields as an adolescent lived with her trainer, Jason Crutchfield, and credits him and her grandmother for teaching her not to accept restrictions. Photo from Zackary Canepari.

You have won your first 25 matches. The one place you can gain respect–the biggest international tournament on earth–is finally allowing women in to box. The 2012 Olympics is coming, and you can qualify, if you just defeat one more person. She’s older; she’s taller; she’s also never lost. She’s English. Her name is Savannah Marshall. And she beats you.

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