Friday, June 13, 2008

Soapbox Time

Nice kids, but no Phoenix Mercury.

All over the internet you will find the usual kind of trash-talking where the same kind of bushwa that is repeated (lamentably) in those "Expect Great" commercials is mirrored by the retarded jock/fratboy crowd.

"I would score a triple double, every night, against the WNBA. I wouldn't even pass the rock!"

"Our state high school boy's team could whip a WNBA team. Want to bet money on that?"

Oh, that last foolish person. How much money do I have in my pocket? How can I make this happen so I can get his money?

Let's say a few words about how these women have achieved their skills. They were not achieved at a finishing school somewhere. Bluntly, they were achieved against men who would probably outscore your high school team by a good twenty points or so.

First, virtually every college women's team in the country plays against men. Most of these guys are guys on the "practice squad" who were just not good enough to make it onto a Division I team, or guys who want to do something else with their lives other than play pro ball but still want to keep their hands in. These were the guys who were the standouts on their home basketball teams and are probably the kind of guys that make up a state boy's championship team. Unless all of your high school championship starters all went to NBA teams, you might have one or two decent players on that boy's championship team and the rest going to Division II or III...or nothing.

Secondly, even off the court, women play against men. Ever heard of pickup games? Pickups at the Y? A three-on-three game on the hot asphalt? In some neighborhoods, you have to hold your own if you want a chance to play, and these are the kinds of places where most men would be laughed off the court.

The women have played men before. This isn't some sort of astonishing concept. Reading some of the haters, you'd think women played in burkas. (*)

According to the Women's Hoops Blog, there are two propositions that haters seem to think are "all that" and end the argument.

#1: Women aren't as good as men at basketball.

#2: Women's basketball is inferior to, and less important than, men's basketball.

Agreeing with the WHB, yes, #1 is true. But so what? At comparitive levels, the men's teams are better than the women's. The Los Angeles Lakers would beat the Phoenix Mercury. The Kansas Jayhawks men's hoops team would be the Tennessee Lady Vols. The boy's state hoops champs would beat the girls.

The biggest reason this is true is anatomy. The average men's pro team has players 6'7" tall. The average women's team is about 6'0" tall, about as tall as a men's pro team would have been fifty years ago. Even though women have more pound-per-pound endurance, men have more pounds, period, and gain muscle more efficiently. The men are taller and stronger, and all other things being equal, will be triumphant.

However, there is a winnowing out that takes place in basketball. Remember the guy who was the basketball all-star in high school? How come that guy didn't make the NBA?

Well, what happened was he went to a college where every single one of the freshmen was either the best player on his high school team, or the second-best player. Your high school friend didn't get to pad his score anymore against the fat kid who played for the high school that only had 100 students. Now, he was playing against the elite high school level.

The best players in college -- who are the best of the best players of high school -- go to the pros. This happens on the women's level as well. These aren't college basketball players in the WNBA. These are the elite college players, and each WNBA team is essentially a women's college team of national all-stars.

When Joe Schmuck's men's high school championship team takes the field against the Phoenix Mercury, there won't be a player on that Mercury team that wasn't all-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink growing up, that hasn't played against not only women but against big strong men, women that have played against the best women on the friggin planet, and players that have usually played on multiple continents. Hell, the experience alone on the Mercury would cause smart men to think twice.

Here's what's going to happen. The biggest, toughest baddest player on the boy's high school state championship team might hold his own. If he's a 7 foot behemoth, or if he's a once-in-a-lifetime player like LeBron James, or if he's among the elite high school players not just in the state, but in the country, one of the guys who will end up on an NBA team. Everyone else? The guys who usually go to Division II or III, if anywhere? They'll wither and die. It will be a blowout, probably bigger than expected because a lot of these guys have been told by the haters for years that they are inherently superior to anything with a vagina. Losing to women would throw them mentally into a tailspin. (Years later, they'll say they all had the flu. Or the refs cheated. Or "I was too busy looking at those hot asses to score points.")

Which is why you'd never see such a matchup. The women have nothing to prove. The haters would never risk such an outcome, because they'd have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

As for the second argument - that women's basketball is essentially inferior and is therefore, unworthy of not only respect, but notice - such an argument makes an absolute hypocrite out of every hater out there. If our advocate for the high school champs really believed that, he wouldn't be watching a high school basketball championship at all. He'd be surfing the channel at home, watching Knicks-Clippers, because the state high school basketball champions would be smoked by the Knicks walk-ons in a matter of moments. If quality of play is everything, then why does anyone watch college basketball at all, much less high school basketball? If such arguments were true, people would just stay home and watch classic NBA Finals games from the 1970s.

This is exactly the argument that "ted" at the Women's Hoops Blog advocated. Most of the advocates of the inferiority of women's basketball are advocates of the inferiority of women, period. (**) Time spend in discussion with them is time better spent elsewhere. You'd get more reasoned arguments from the brick wall outside.

To conclude, I'm not surprised by these arguments from ignorance. The world is a big place, and therefore, has a lot of stupid people in it. What's truly surprising is that so many people, particulary people who claim to be experts on basketball, buy into those arguments and try to sell them to other people. The problem is that, as the School of Hard Knocks will tell you, ignorance cannot be defeated by reason. Reason has no place in the world of a fool.

(* * *)

(*) - One of the hallmark qualities of a hater is a complete ignorance of the thing he hates. The ignorance comes from the belief that the "inferior" is beneath his notice and he should therefore never be bothered with it. For example, most of the bashers of, say, the Reverend Al Sharpton will say, "why is Al Sharpton always beating up white people? why doesn't he take on black rappers and black criminals?"...complete unaware that Sharpton has taken on both of the latter for years. The reason the haters don't know any of this is that the work of Al Sharpton is beneath their notice unless he does something that make the haters unconfortable. Sometimes, paradoxically, this stupidity is presented as a point of intellectual pride.

(**) - If you don't believe me, consult their other blog entries, even on non-basketball matters. A sort of patronizing or objectifying attitude towards women occasionally comes to the surface there as well. To paraphrase Chris Rock, "That train's never late!"

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