Column: A different brand of girls’ hoops

Published 6:27 am Friday, October 29, 2004

By Staff
I work out at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA with the father of a local girls' basketball player a couple times a week. As we're in the weight room, we stand around, shoot the breeze and make small talking.
I've never claimed to be a renaissance man - I'm pretty one-dimensional. And since sports is the only topic I know anything about, our conversations at the gym usually center around athletics.
Last week the dad and I were at the Y and began discussing his daughter's basketball team, when it dawned on me. I was standing around with "the guys" discussing girls' basketball. Before I came to Niles, that's something I never in my life thought I would do.
I'm not proud to admit it, but I used to be the typical male chauvenist that looked down on girls sports. I scoffed at the WNBA when it was created. "No one will ever watch or care about women's basketball," I thought.
It wasn't that I didn't think girls could play ball or that they didn't have talent. I just didn't care. I found women's hoops to be too bland, slow-paced and low-scoring for my taste. I would have sooner watched a soccer match than be forced to sit through a WNBA game (not that there's anything wrong with soccer).
My how my views have changed. As I discussed the high school teams with the player's father, I admitted that I enjoy watching the local girls' teams play. I get excited about going to big games, just as excited as I get going to boys' games.
The quality brand of hoops the girls play in Niles and Buchanan has caused my attitude to do a complete 180. The basketball programs in southwestern Michigan blow those in Indiana out of the water.
Not only are the girls here better, but there is more excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the games than anywhere else I've been. Even the junior varsity and freshmen games have fans screaming at the top of their lungs. The furvor for Michigan girls' basketball cannot be matched.
The biggest reason for the focus on the girls game is that they have a season all to their own. Players who don't know any better don't know how good they have it. In 46 other states, where the boys and girls teams both play in the winter, the boys overshadow the girls. Right or wrong, the girls teams get overlooked anywhere else, even if they are better than the boys.
That's why I can't imagine why courts are trying to force the Michigan High School Athletic Association to switch the girls to the winter with the boys. Suits claim that the girls aren't on equal playing ground because they play in the fall. If the change goes through, much of the attention will be drawn from the girls, which would be a shame.
The fact that the girls' basketball teams can convert a former basketball sexist like me into a fan is a testament to the quality of hoops being played in our area. I enjoy watching them play so much, that I don't know how the boys' will be able to compare come December. Forget March Madness, I'm ready for November Madness and the girls' basketball state tournament.