A New Voice in College Basketball
So I’m watching some college basketball last night…men’s college basketball, to be specific, and I shake my head thinking I’m hearing things. What I hear is a man doing the play-by-play for the conference tournament game between Cincinnati and Central Florida and a WOMAN doing the color commentary. A women analyzing a men’s college basketball game? It was Doris Burke, who’s been doing work on women’s and men’s basketball for 15 years, but mostly as a sideline reporter or play-by-play for WNBA games. It got my attention.
Then I switch over to ESPN2 and they’re in the studio for the Big 10 men’s conference tournament and there’s Kara Lawson sitting between two men talking about the Ohio State/Purdue game. What’s going on here?
Actually, I’ m being falsely dramatic to make a point. While it did get my attention, it didn’t bother me since both ladies knew what they were talking about. But it does bother a lot of people. Back in late January of this year, the Brigham Young men played Gonzaga and the game had a women doing both play-by-play AND color analyst…Lawson and Beth Mowins. A quick check of Twitter showed the game was immensely popular but not because of the play on the court. Guys we’re blowing up the Twitter universe with hate towards the announcers. One got the feeling the earth was about to spin off its axis.
As much as we may think we advance as a society, we haven’t gotten too far. While my initial response to women doing men’s games was…”How would they know anything about THIS game, they’ve never played it….” I’ve grown to appreciate they can relate to a man’s game. Sure, the speed is different, as is the overall athletic ability, but a woman is certainly capable of seeing weaknesses and strengths in the flow of a game.
We’ve accepted for years men announcing women’s games. The thinking is, if a man can play or coach male athletes and sports, he can certainly analyze the much slower women’s game. Just because the Cincinnati/Central Florida game featured FAST and athletic men didn’t mean Burke couldn’t keep up verbally. She did and aside from her higher pitched voice, what she had to say wasn’t different than what Bobby Knight or Digger Phelps or Dicky V would say at the same time.
We need to move past the stereo-types and just listen to what’s said, not who’s saying it. My guess is you’ll be hearing a lot more from the gentler sex when it comes to men’s sports. It’s nice to have a little variety once in awhile. I don’t ever see women doing a majority of men’s games, so those who don’t like a women’s voice saying, “a blocking foul and the basket is good,” shouldn’t freak out.
We’ll actually know the world is spinning out of control the day we hear a women doing play-by-play in…… the NHL!