In an interview with the Hartford Courant, UCONN women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma suggested that lowering the rim for women would help increase the popularity of the game by creating higher offensive efficiency. While Auriemma’s position in the basketball landscape is well-respected, his stance here is completely off the mark.
There is no reason the rim should be lowered and the rules of the game changed, and it’s wildly inappropriate for Auriemma to suggest that women athletes are less capable than men.
The problem isn’t the height of the rim, it’s our culture’s approach to female athletics.
We place an emphasis on male athletics. As a result there are far fewer women interested in pursuing an athletic career and the talent pool is severely lowered because of this cultural expectation. This is at the root of women’s basketball’s diminished popularity.
The same five collegiate teams get the top level players and compete each year, effectively eliminating the thrill of the upset that is at the core of the men’s game’s success. Title IX worked to close the gap between men and women in sports. Let’s not undo that by saying women are less capable of playing with a 10 foot rim.
Auriemma argues volleyball lowers the net for women and softball fields are smaller than baseball diamonds, “so the women have the chance for the same kind of success at the net (as the men).” What message does that send to girls across the country? Certainly not the correct one.
Yes, women’s basketball and other female sports are in need of a change, but it’s not by altering their rules and dimensions. We need to encourage women to pursue athletic competition from a young age and let them know they are no different than men.