Posts Tagged ‘Basketball’

Kate Smith of Detroit Shock

Kate Smith of Detroit Shock

The Detroit Shock defeated the New York Liberty tonight, 75-73 in game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

According to the AP article, Deanna Nolan scored 21 points and Taj McWilliams-Franklin put in 19 to help the Detroit Shock reach the WNBA finals for the third straight season.

This was definately an exciting game. The Shock were up by 20 in the first half, but had to fight of New York’s determination, as they got within two early in the fourth.

The deciding moment seemed to occur when Loree Moore missed a free throw and Alexis Hornbuckle answered with five quick points for the Shock.

The WNBA finals will match up the Detroit Shock and the San Antonio Stars on Wednesday, October 1 at 7:30 PM on ESPN 2.

Here’s what the complete schedule will look like:

Game 1: DET at SAN, Oct. 1, 7:30 ET (ESPN2)
Game 2: DET at SAN, Oct. 3, 7:30 ET (ESPN2)
Game 3: SAN at DET, Oct. 5, 4:30 ET (ESPN2)
Game 4: SAN at DET, Oct. 6, 7:30 ET (ESPN2)
Game 5: DET at SAN, Oct. 9, 7:30 ET (ESPN2)

I’ll be covering this regularly. This will be a great matchup!

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The Women’s Sports Foundation came out with an incredibly interesting report yesterday, which could be the most accurate description of college sports’ participation patterns to date.

The report even made The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, indicating its overall importance to society.

While more women are participating in recent years than ever, the report, entitled Who’s Playing College Sports, discusses issues such as money, race and gender which influence athletic participation.

What did they look at?
Well, they took a 10-year NCAA sample containing 738 NCAA colleges and universities is examined over the 1995-96 to 2004-05 period.

What did they find?

(Executive Summary) “The results demonstrate that women continue to be significantly underrepresented among college athletes. At the average higher education institution, the female share of undergraduates is 55.8% while the female share of athletes is 41.7%. Women did enjoy a substantial increase in participation opportunities in the late 1990s, but this progress slowed considerably in the early 2000s. In fact, the increase in women’s participation levels was roughly equal to the increase in men’s participation levels between 2001-02 and 2004-05.”

Major findings:

1) Women’s athletic participation levels substantially increased during the late 1990s, but this growth slowed considerably in the early 2000s.
2) Women’s participation still lags far behind men’s participation levels.
3) Men’s overall athletic participation levels increased over time.
4) While a few men’s sports suffered substantial declines, a larger number of men’s sports enjoyed increases that far outnumbered those losses.
5) The only subset of higher education institutions that experienced declines in men’s participation levels was NCAA Division I-A schools, the institutions that spend the most on intercollegiate athletics.

Other highlights

Some other important findings (from the Press Release on Market Watch)

The report also disclosed an important rapid increase in spending — 7% per year after inflation on athletic programs like football and basketball — as restricting other athletic opportunities.

Influential factors on college participation in sport include:

– Changes in high school sports participation;
– Rising health care costs;
– Increased numbers of international students;
– The rise of enrollment management strategies;
– The implication of these participation trends on college sports’ diversity.

Another unfortunate finding – in recent years — more women, less diversity (due to offering traditional sports like football, volleyball and basketball and emerging sports like equestrian and synchronized swimming.

To improve diversity, the report recommends that schools take steps to increase the number of athletes of color playing less diverse sports.

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This morning, Christie Rampone, captain of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, led our country’s finest soccer players to compete in the preliminaries against Norway at 7:45am ET.

But back in 1997, Christie Rampone was not the leader of Team USA. In fact, she was a senior at Monmouth University facing a very difficult decision.

Before attending Monmouth, Rampone had graduated Point Pleasant Borough High School as finest female athlete ever in Ocean County history and was named the New Jersey Female Athlete of the Year. She received a full scholarship to play basketball for Monmouth University, a small-division one school in West Long Branch, NJ. At Monmouth, Rampone competed in two sports, basketball and soccer. But she was a point guard, and basketball was her number one sport.

So why had she just received a fax from U.S. soccer inviting her to training camp?

Turns out then U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco had seen Pearce play in a college match, and he was looking for attackers that he could convert into backs. He decided to take a chance on the 5-foot-6 striker from the Jersey Shore.

But she was right in the middle of her conference basketball season as a senior captain. How could she abandon what she had been working hard on for three years?

She talked to a lot of people at Monmouth, who advised her that his is an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. So she went – and she hung in there with gold medalists. DiCicco called her two weeks later and invited her to travel with the USA to Australia that February.

She said,

“I was committed to two teams. One is your dream, and one is your scholarship, your senior year. Sometimes you are faced with life choices that have long-term consequences, but you just don’t know it at the time. It was scary going into that first camp, but to accomplish great things you have to be brave.”

And from there, she only got better and better.

Rampone went on to make the historic 1999 Women’s World Cup Team, which played its first match of that tournament in front of a sold out crowd at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Now, eleven years lated, at 33 years of age, Rampone has achieved more success than anyone back in NJ could have dreamed.

I couldn’t say it any better than Center Circle,

“[Rampone] is a mother to precocious three-year-old daughter Rylie and an excellent role model for her teammates and the thousands of girls and women playing across the USA, especially those who play at small schools on the New Jersey coast.”

Congratulations, Christie. New Jersey, Monmouth (and the rest of the country) are extremely proud of you.

(Last I checked on today’s game, it was 2-0 Norway, but I don’t have an official score yet).

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The wrath has been disclosed in response to Tuesday night’s mayhem fight in the WBNA.

Detroit Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn as well as 10 players were suspended for contributing to the fight that made headlines across the world. In total, four were ejected from the game on Tuesday night, and now eleven people received suspensions.

Here’s a quick recap of what happened (from ESPN): [Candace] Parker and [Plenette] Pierson got tangled up and fell to the court. Deanna Nolan tackled Parker and Mahorn appeared to push [Lisa] Leslie to the court. [Delisha] Milton-Jones responded by punching Mahorn in the back.

(The last part is my favorite!!!)

Plenette Pierson of the Shock was suspended for four games, the harshest penalty, for initiating and escalating the fight. Mahorn was suspended for two games, as were Shannon Bobbitt and Murriel Page of the Sparks. Sparks’ Candace Parker and DeLisha Milton-Jones, meanwhile, were banned one game each.

According to ESPN, here’s what the WNBA has to say about it:

“The WNBA and its players represent all that is good about sports: passion, hard work and sacrifice,” WNBA president Donna Orender said in a statement released by the league. “On a nightly basis our players display extraordinary skill, athleticism and competitive fire. The events Tuesday, however, were inexcusable and in no way indicative of what the league stands for. We hold our players to a very high standard and these suspensions should serve notice that the behavior exhibited at the end of Tuesday’s game will not be tolerated.”

Though I would never approve of the behavior exhibited the other night, I have to say, ladies – you did a great job of showing the world that you have aggression, a value that is coveted in the highly-popularized sports of our male counterparts.

Mahorn did an excellent job of making himself look like an asshole.

The disciplinary action is well-deserved for all.

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Check out the size difference between ESPY winners Candace Parker and David Beckham. Parker was awarded “Best Female Athlete” and Beckham was awarded “Best Male Athlete.”

I thought this picture from a recent USA Today article was priceless. Special thanks to Rob Mars from Athletic Women Blog for calling attention to it.

I seriously wish that in the same article, they’d call attention to not only their physical differences, but also to the difference in the size of their wallets.

Candace Parker earns a base salary of $44,064 + endorsements (which aren’t much in the USA).

David Beckham earns $250 million (he signed a record $1 million-a-week five-year deal for MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy in January 2007), making him the highest paid athlete in North America.

Hmmmm…. do we see any difference in values here? We have a long way to go, ladies.

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When I was younger, I was an avid reader of Sports Illustrated for Women. To my recent surprise, I visited the SI for Women Web site and was shocked at what I found. This message from the editor:

“It is with especially deep sadness that we tell you the bad news: The December 2002 issue will be Sports Illustrated Women’s last. These are tough times for a new magazine, and sometimes even loyal readers aren’t enough to make the numbers add up.”

This really saddens me. The magazine only lasted two years, running from March 2000-Nevember 2002. Its primary audience, according to Wikipedia, was women, 18-34 years old, with “a passion for sports.”

What’s even more interesting to me, is that in 2002, Cleary Simpson the then-publisher for SI Women claimed that the lack of readership (and eventual failure of the magazine) is largely due to the fact that, “women are more interested in sports as participants than fans, unlike men.”

Another problem, they claim, is that women’s interest is “fragmented” across a wide variety of sports (such as soccer, tennis or running), with little to bind them as a shared audience.

Personally, I would go as far as to say it’s our cultural values that prevent magazines and publications (as well as some women’s sports) to receive the type of attention they deserve. The primary problem: men aren’t interested (unless the girls are pretty).

It all has to do with advertising, which has everything to do with money, which relates back to what we, as members of a society, deem important enough to invest in.

While our culture values the aggressive, intense competition (and fighting) in sports by men, other values such as sound fundamentals, pure technique and fluid movement (present in women’s sports) are undervalued and deemed less important. In terms of fans, we as women are incredibly left behind.

Think about it: when do you see the top female athletes? Many times, it’s in advertisements, such as models for athletic apparel.

Take for instance Dara Torres, who, while incredibly performing in the Olympic Trials at the age if 41,is also known for her swimsuit modeling on the side. Why? Think: money. Torres is often singled out for her beauty, as she was the first female athlete to appear in the Sports Illustrated (for men) Swimsuit Issue.

Another example is Lisa Leslie of the LA Sparks. When was the last time you saw her perform on TV? When was the last time you saw her in a Got Milk ad, or on a billboard somewhere? Most likely you’d suggest the latter, as she is widely known as the “face” of women’s basketball as a Wilhemina model. But what about her being the most dominant player in the WNBA? Where did that news go?

Leslie (and Torres) make their bucks as a models, not as a top performers, and this (again) relates back to what we as a society value more in a woman: athleticism or beauty? At the end of the day, we’re still a society who’d rather have our girls look good than perform great on the playing field.

Yes, as I said in my post about Title IX, there are (thank God) more opportunities for women to play, and we have come along way in almost 40 years, but we’re still not there.

We can’t even get a Sports Illustrated magazine to be successful. And part of it is our fault. I mean, to be honest, we don’t really have time to sit around and be fans of our sports. Instead, we’re out there trying to make it in corporate America, or we’re spending our free time trying to look good. Some of us are trying to raise families, make dinner, and get the kids back and forth from their sports. A lot of us spend our free time working out in the gym to stay in shape. Few of us have time to be fans of our sports. And that’s another huge reason as to why we can’t get SI for Women to be successful. And my fear is we never will have that time. That is, unless, our culture starts shifting its values.

As someone who now falls into the age category of what would be the readership for SI for women, I say it’s time we call the magazine and request its reappearance, at least on the Web. (These days print magazines aren’t generating the readership revenue they had in the past, largely due to blogs such as mine.) We need more coverage of women’s sports. I mean, seriously, if a 10-year-old girl loves women’s sports, where do we tell them to go read about it? There is a lack here. We need to know what’s being accomplished, and how great our girls are doing on the playing fields of America (and the world).

Until then, girls, we’ll continue to balk at the yearly Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated (for men) — that is, unless one of our stellar athletes is pretty enough to make it on the cover.

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Once an athlete, always an athlete. You never lose it. Your entire life, you have certain values ingrained in you that make you who you are. Teamwork, goal-setting, discipline, competitiveness, leadership, fair play… we all know how it works.

So when a friend of mine sent me a link for a feature by Curve magazine which profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes, I wasn’t at all surprised.

The piece is entitled “All American Girls,” and profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes in sports they’re trying for the first time. From surfing and power lifting to flag football and rugby, the stories of these women should inspire all of us to leave our fears and doubts about injuries and time commitments behind and take to the fields of games we’ve been itching to try since we were young. They might not be professionals, but as far as athletic competition is concerned, it’s just the beginning.

One of these profiles really caught my eye, and it’s about Mona Rayside who plays in a rugby club in Washington, DC.

Mona Rayside is 30 years old and has been playing rugby since 1991. Although rugby has been famously dubbed “the barbarian’s sport played by gentlemen,” it started attracting ladies in the mid-1970s and now rivals softball for popularity. Rayside plays for the Maryland Stingers, one of the top women’s club teams in the nation.

Rayside likes the sport because it resembles “female power.” She says, “When I started playing, it was a revelation, because all of a sudden people were excited to see a big ol’ girl come on the field,” she recalls, a smile in her voice. “Rugby … helped me recognize and find my own strength, and to realize that I was physically strong and that that was something to be desired.”

As a basketball player, one of the aspects about Rugby that I am particularly jealous of is the sense of community among its players, or, “ruggers.” First, they’re tough people in general. To go out there and take a hit with no padding on has GOT to hurt. But they encourage each other to get right back up and keep playing.

Second, after the match, they DRINK (party + eat) with their opponents! Often dubbed a “drink up,” this great tradition ingrains sportsmanship and respect for the sport in each of the athletes.

Third, I love the sense of community. I am jealous of the clubs set up for those of us out of college in cities around the world. These serve as “families” of sort (much like my college basketball team was for me). It’s a great way to meet people and have fun. I miss that sense of community, and having moved to a new city, I wish I had it here. Unfortunately, when it comes to basketball, it seems that level of organization seems to dissipate after college.

Although I’d love to try it, I don’t have the time to commit to learning rugby right now. And I don’t think or want to think that I’d enjoy taking a hit that hard.

Plus, my “love” is with basketball. My community is found among basketball players, or “ballers.” I’ve been playing the sport competitively since I was about six years old.

With the overwhelming national popularity of women’s basketball, I really wish there would be more formalized “clubs” that we could join and participate in as adults . I’m not talking about just rec leagues. I’m talking about clubs, membership-oriented communities of adults who fund raise, practice on a regular basis and travel to play in tournaments on the weekends in various cities.

Ballers, where are we? It’s time to get organized. Maybe we can learn a few things from our “rugger” friends.

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If you’re just out of college and you’re trying to get in shape but can’t seem to motivate yourself to get to the gym every day, I’ve got an answer for you. Try rec sports.

As a former athlete, I didn’t really know what to do with myself when I realized it was all over. I took a few months off to recuperate, but soon got bored. So in an effort to get active and meet some people, I joined Head First Sports Leagues, in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area.

Through Head First, I’ve met a great group of friends who I hang out with often. Through a contact, I even got involved in coaching. Playing rec sports is a great way to meet people and have fun. After our games, we often go out in Georgetown and have a beer or two and watch some sports games (which is very common).

I’m involved in women’s basketball (competitive), coed basketball (competitive) and coed soccer. I also try and play for my work’s softball team, if I can make any of the games. The kids on these teams are just like me. They’re looking for an outlet other than the expensive booze during happy hour. I don’t know about other cities, but in this one, rec sports is extremely popular.

In Washington, DC, on a beautiful weekday night, if you go to the National Mall, you will see about a hundred different sports games going on at one time. From kickball to Rugby, flag football and softball (and other creative games), young professionals are gearing up and getting active. And it’s a really cool thing.

For more information on collegiate sports, check out the National As. You can also check out Recleagues.com

If you’re in a specific city, just Google “rec sports” and your city see what you find in your area. I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Don’t be shy. Get out there and play. It’s

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The process of finding a place for you spend the next four years of your life can be incredibly overwhelming for a 17-year-old. The late junior/early senior years of high school and accompanying college application process is very stressful. The demands they put on the kids to not only have “honor-level” grades and top-notch SAT scores, but also to have extra-curricular activities, is not only wrong but unrealistic. Now, take all of those elements and add the stress of infiltrating a  collegiate athletics program- and you’ve got one stressed out kid. This article is about that stress, what I experienced, and how you can overcome it to truely discover yourself.

Today, I came across a New York Times Well blog article which documents the stressful accounts of three high school kids applying for college.  I think the article is interesting and very telling, but what is even more intriguing is the accompanying comments to the blog. In my opinion, the beauty of blogging is that you can see and share with other people on an immediately engaging level, which is what makes the sharing of stories powerful.

The article was posted only yesturday morning (April 29) and already, there are 139 comments from people throughout the country who complain and explain their awful experiences. SOMETHING is wrong here. Why is this such a grueling experience for these kids? There is entirely too much pressure, and it’s causing some unnecessary stress in individuals who are trying to embark on a journey of discovering where they want to be in the world.

Now, like I said, take that pressure and add to it the expectations set upon a kid who has performed well in his or her athletics career up to that point in their lives. There could be a few different scenerios that could occur here.

Some kids force themselves to make a decision. Should I continue to play the collegiate level? Or do I want  “real” college experience a big school, and ditch the sports altogether?  This can be the crossroad in the life of an athlete, as they may separate from the athletic expectations that parents, coaches (and sometimes even communities) have upon them. In my opinion, if you’re even asking yourself this question, you should probably stop playing and just go to the school of your choice. If you don’t you will regret your decision. Trust me.

Others, like myself at that age,  know they want to participate in a sport at hte collegiate level, but aren’t sure at what level.

The summer before my senior year was met with letters of interest, game filming, emails to coaches and plenty of internet research. (You think the regular admission process is hard? Try adding this work to your plate).

I attended many stressful AAU “bluechip” tournaments. (I know, the word “stressful” conflicts with my previous article about the benefits of AAU sports). That said, I have to admit — once a kid reaches the later years in high school, AAU participation is much more of a game of getting into college — those who are still playing at that age are serious about attaining a college scholarship.

So, the summer before my senior year, I traveled around the country at showcase tournaments. Usually, I had a only a few opportunities in a particular weekend to make an impression on college coaches who sat in the stands watching my every move.

Unfortunately, I was under the impression that my performance would affect the decisions of these scouts.  I quickly came to find out that (like a lot of other parts of life) the college recruitment process is largely political, and is about who you  know and who those people know. The coaches in the stands were there to “scmooze” individuals who they knew, who they had previous contact with and who were already on their radar. Performance in these tournaments  didn’t really matter much at all. The college coaches who were present were really just looking to see what kind of shape you are in, and to make some “beneficial” face-to-face engagement to try and influence your decision.

I did have a few schools looking at me, and that is why I kept plugging away at those tournaments. I was very unsure if what I was doing was going to be worth it, but I remember my dad saying to me, “Meg, even if you get nothing from this, you can at least say you tried. It’s all about the experience.”

I came out of those experiences with an offer from a few division II schools, and “letters of interest” from a few division III schools (no scholarship money allowed). But, I did see parts of the country that I never thought possible, and I played with and against some of the best athletes to have competed in women’s basketball.

By the spring of my senior year, I still had not made my decision, and was sick and discussed by the politics of the entire process. Girls who I had evenly competed with had signed letters of intent with division I scholarships because of who they knew, contacts they had made.

So, I decided (thankfully) that I wanted a life of my own, and I went to an in-state division III school, close enough to home that my parents could come see me play. The school had an outstanding liberal arts reputation, yet a competitive basketball team and an even more competitive application process.

I was comfortable with my decision, largely because it would be over. (Can you imagine that? A kid should be excited about their decision… not excited that the decision process is over).

I found myself right back where all the “normal” college applicants find themselves – struggling to prove themselves on paper. Because I am not one to perform well on standardized tests, I spent much time in the kitchen of a local tutor, working hard to improve my scores. I spent late-night hours on the essays about my life’s purpose, campaigned for leadership positions, and worked as hard as I could to garner a successful basketball team. Where did all the time go for fun? I’m still asking myself that question.

But, what I don’t have to look back on is my decision. I know I picked the right one. I truly discovered myself in college. I challenged myself academically and physically.

When deciding if you want to continue with athletics, you need to really think about the commitment level. A Division III basketball program, although not as demanding as Division I, still demands a commitment of at least three hours per day, not including extra workouts and lifting. If class conflicted with practice, you went to class. If you had an early practice the next morning or a game the next day, you went to bed instead of going out. But because of these rules, my teammates and I unconsciously found ourselves  challenging and pushing each other in the classroom, and in life – not just on the basketball court.

When you join a division III athletics program, you automatically enroll with about fifteen friends (your teammates) who share something in common with you. This is a powerful thing when you are discovering who you want to be friends with. You are invited to engage in a silent, yet powerfully existent social community of an athletics program at the institution.

Because I chose the school and level of athletics that I did, I was able to to expose myself to four different areas of academic study – health and exercise science, psychology, women’s and gender studies and communication. I graduated with a degree, two minors and a concentration. I also had two internships completed and four-month independent study, all of which have led me to where I am today. I still don’t know how did it, but I’m glad that I did.

Yes, the basketball thing could have ended a little bit better than I would have hoped for, but  that’s not what really matters. What really matters is what my dad said to me when I was 17 years old… “the experience.”  Because of my decision, I had a lot of fun, and I discovered myself along the way.

So if you’re a high school athlete considering college athletics, when it comes to your decision, think about how committed you want to be to the sport. Ask yourself if you really love it. Then, think about where the most options are, both academically and athletically.

Once you do that, your decision is already made. Take a deep breath. It’s over. Now you can relax and go with the flow. You’re on a journey to discovering the rest of your life.

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I’m just another not-so-typical-20-something just-out-of-college overly altruistic and obnoxious about it pretentious individual… who has no idea what tomorrow will bring.

I moved about a year ago – three hours from home to the beautiful greater Washington, DC metropolitan area. I came to this place of one-too-many cocktails, suits and high heels because I wanted to save the world through my professional career. What I’ve found is it takes a little more than a dream, and I have a lot of work to do.

In the mean time, I’ve realized something… by participating in sports as a kid, I was setting myself up for successful opportunities, long after I hung up my sneakers. All of that hard work, all of those years of obsessing over practices, coaches’ impressions, newspapers, rankings, everything… it has all come full circle. It’s true, what the NCAA says — most of us go professional in something other than sports.

I grew up playing A LOT of basketball. I started in about fifth grade when I played for St. Rose of Lima basketball, then gradually became a part of the Penn-Jersey Panthers AAU basketball program where I met all kinds of great girls in New Jersey. I went on to play basketball for two years at Camden Catholic High School then transferred to Haddon Heights High School and graduated in 2003. I turned down a few basketball scholarships and chose to play for The College of New Jersey Lions, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Exercise Science and Health Communication. Right now, I work for a public relations firm in Washington, DC. On the side, I coach a Classics Basketball AAU team and play in Headfirst Sports Leagues.

Now, since I’ve hung up my sneakers, I’ve discovered is that as female athletes, there is an incredible disconnect between the billions of us who play sports and the very few who choose to follow the stars. Not only this, but we as female athletes are incredibly underrepresented in print and on the Web. So I will do what I can to bring as much as I can to the online space. I strongly believe that by simply listening (and I mean really listening) and paying attention, you’re empowering yourself beyond measure. Knowledge is very, VERY powerful. And if I can bring it to the table, I’ll always have a seat.

That is what this blog is all about.

Welcome. I’m glad you’re here.

(Disclaimer: the thoughts an opinions on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect those of my current or previous employers).

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