Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 48° Partly Cloudy

Endorsements and editorials are made solely by the ownership of this newspaper. As is the case at most newspapers across the nation, The Spokesman-Review newsroom and its editors are not a part of this endorsement process. Click here to learn more.

Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Women’s athletics help restore lost respect

March Madness is over for Gonzaga University – for 2011, at least.

Even in defeat, however, the extraordinary women’s basketball team with the superlative point guard earned every speck of admiration a grateful community had to dish out.

But there is more to ponder this week than the home team’s accomplishments, historic as they were. By extension, women’s sports programs in general can claim a share of public honor.

It’s not quite 40 years since Title IX codified women’s equal opportunity in the athletic programs of the nation’s colleges and universities – at least those that rely in some part on government support. And how times have changed.

The advances in skill and athleticism are conspicuous. Fan interest has soared, as measured by the 11,646 attendance figure for the Bulldogs’ loss on Monday (not to mention the decibel level inside) as well as the ubiquitous autograph seekers around Courtney Vandersloot and her teammates.

At the same time – here’s the cool part – the women in these contests have kept a solid grip on proportionality. They’re passionate about what they do. They’re intense. They’re competitive.

But they keep their showboating in check. If there’s trash-talking, it’s tame. The in-game celebration is authentic rather than choreographed, an emotional element within the game rather than the main attraction.

You don’t see the self-absorbed attitudes of entitlement that have landed so many male counterparts in off-the-court/field difficulties. 

In The Spokesman-Review’s Sports section on Monday, the day the Stanford-Gonzaga game dominated the coverage, at least three lesser stories touched on some of the negative sideshows that have become so common in big-time sports – a criminal trial, a recruiting violation, a labor dispute. And that was a slow day for athletic dysfunction.

You rarely read about such tawdry stuff involving women’s sports. We’re not sure about other teams elsewhere, but none of the GU women ran into trouble over marijuana-possession charges this season.

True, the tolerance for misconduct that has built up around men’s sports didn’t become common overnight. It has been evolving for a long time. Well before Michael Vick was welcomed back to the National Football League following a prison sentence for dogfighting, Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon went to prison for counterfeiting and was kicked out of the College Football Hall of Fame, only to be reinstated later.

This is not to say the men’s sports world lacks heroic figures, or that women’s success won’t eventually turn sour, too. But the familiar assertion that sports builds character has suffered obvious damage. The Courtney Vandersloots of the world are doing some necessary and greatly appreciated repair work.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.