Thursday, November 18, 2010


Let’s talk KU women’s sports


Meaningful, eyeball-to-eyeball conversations rank as the No. 1 victim of the mass shift to those so-impersonal communication methods, e-mails and texts. So what do we all do? Talk about the weather. Surely, we can do better, so let today be city-wide, “Don’t Talk About the Weather Day.”

I got off to a head start Wednesday night because I didn’t care if it was cold or rainy.

Kansas University had a rare doubleheader, a volleyball match at 6, a women’s basketball game at 8. The volleyball team plays in a mostly full small building, the Horejsi Center. The basketball team plays in a mostly empty big building, Allen Fieldhouse. Even though the basketball crowds are bigger, they feel smaller.

The way the night started, with Kansas winning the first volleyball set against Baylor and taking a lead in the third, I was convinced Kansas would, for the first time, qualify for the NCAA Tournament in both sports in the same season. Then the Jayhawks fell apart, lost in four sets and dropped to 7-10 in the Big 12, a match behind Baylor.

The basketball team played November Ball in defeating overmatched Texas A&M; Corpus-Christi, 85-44. KU exhibited three degrees of ball security: Sloppy, sloppier and sloppiest on the way to 29 turnovers.

Still, the depth is better, especially at point guard, where quick freshman Keena Mays backs up Angel Goodrich. Mix in post players Carolyn Davis, a superstar, Aishah Sutherland and Krysten Boogaard, scorers Monica Engelman and Tania Jackson, and versatile wing Marisha Brown and it all adds up to a tourney-caliber team.

The back-to-back contests made it a good night to note how the sports that in high school tend to have a high degree of overlap among athletes differ and how they are alike.

In both, tall players play near the net, and to a large extent, are set up by shorter ones. Players farther from the net tend to lend more vocal leadership and serve as traffic cops.

The biggest difference: Women look more athletic playing volleyball than basketball. The reasons for the mirage are many. For one thing, we’re used to watching men play basketball and inevitably compare women who don’t run as fast or jump as high to the men. But there is more to it.

For one, the uniforms are different. In volleyball, the shorts are shorter, not as baggy. More athletic muscle tone is visible. The difference in uniforms is a practical one. No part of a volleyball player’s body or uniform can hit the net, so loose clothing doesn’t work. For another, the volleyball court is smaller, so the athletes look larger, more dominant.

More than anything, it’s the height of the net. It’s shorter in volleyball. To watch a woman execute a kill — volleyball’s equivalent of a dunk — is to appreciate the athlete’s bounce and strength. A 9-foot hoop would make the athleticism of women’s basketball players more obvious to those of us on the slow side, but don’t look for that any time soon.

Until gender inequities in society’s more important areas — such as equal pay for equal work — are erased, fighting for equality will take precedence over celebrating differences between male and female athletes.


kcjayhwks 8 years, 12 months ago

Kansas has a women's basketball team? Do they ever win anything? What is the purpose of this besides to fulfill a deadline?

truefan 8 years, 12 months ago

They won last night 85-44. More than our men's team has beaten anyone by all season.

What is the purpose of you other than to take up space on these message boards with your ignorance?

JayViking 8 years, 12 months ago

"More than our men's team has beaten anyone by all season."


sevenyearhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Kansas isn't a "basketball school" it's a bunch of Yankee fans in red and blue instead of pinstripes ... disgusting.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 12 months ago

Gonna be a ton of comments removed on this one! I've never understood womens sports at the university level. They are a total money drain on the athletic department. Why does something that loses so much money continue to exist for so long?

ohjayhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

It's called Title IX. If they do not offer women's sports, they cannot, by federal law, offer men's sports.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 12 months ago

I don't care. Women or men. If it loses money get rid of it! Would anyone care if ku's track and field team was gone? Swimming? Tennis? Cross country? Baseball? Soccer? Softball? She were I'm headed with this!

haydenhawkco 8 years, 12 months ago

How do you judge if they make money or not? If you go off attendance alone then you could make the same case for for football or basketball if attendance is low for a few seasons. KU's men finished 7th in the NCAA Track and Field final! How do you know or not if one of these kids becomes the next Olympic champion or Cy Young winner and in return donates money to the KUAD?

JayhawksandHerd 8 years, 12 months ago

You do realize that most FBS football programs either break even or lose money, right?

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 12 months ago

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't imagine that Keegs has watched enough women's basketball to reach an educated opinion as to how good this team really is. I know I haven't.

jayhwkr77 8 years, 12 months ago

what bothers me the most about women's sports is the fact that the only reason that they exist past the high school level is because institutions feel that they need to be politically correct

as a current student at KU, there are so many better places (on campus) money could be going than to a team that no more than a few hundred people care about

jayhawk2062 8 years, 12 months ago would be good for you to understand that Kansas Athletics, Inc. is separate from the University of Kansas. The only link they have is that the Chancellor hires the Athletic Director and the actual money that is donated to athletics is in a separate account at the Endowment Association.

So.....this money that athletics would have from not running women's sports would go back into the athletic department, not the school itself.

I am a man and I think it is ridiculous to not have women's sports. They deserve an opportunity for scholarships just like the men do. The point of Title IX is to even out the scholarships. Schools that have football general have more women's sports to account for the massive amount of scholarships that a football program gives.

Are we about to suggest that because schools generally lose money on Men's Soccer programs, etc. that they should be cut too? Just because they don't make money? Football supports those men's sports that are non-revenue based too. Baseball at KU doesn' t make enough money to cover its costs either.....should we cut baseball along with other women's sports? tickets at KU cost the same as a ticket to women's bball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. Anyone who tries to rationalize cutting women's sports because of money.....can't. Therefore it is just discrimination.

JayViking 8 years, 12 months ago

You've got a point, except Title IX suggests that we keep the programs that lose money simply to keep things "fair" and "even." So in turn, because football gives so many males scholarships, those programs that are non-revenue and that federal law does not require a university to have, are cut. That's pretty much all men's non-revenue sports.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 12 months ago

And you couldn't be more off base about ku Inc. It wasn't until recently the ad became separated from the university. Also the majority of coaches salaries come from state/university funds.

Besides it just makes business sence to cut unsuccessful money draining programs. Think about it, when is the last time you went to a girls soccer match? Who us our best womens tennis player? What place did womens rowing finish last year? I would make fun of swimming but I don't know what their competitions are called matches? Meets? Games? Contest? Challenges?

rockchalk_dpu 8 years, 12 months ago

Actually, you aren't correct that it was Lew who separated the athletic department from the university. It has been this way since about the 20's because the way Kansas law is set up, the university would have to take all the money in from athletics and send it to the state to be split up among all the universities in state lowering our total income from our own sports. K-State and I believe Wichita State are set up similarly for the same reason. Just wanted to make sure that you had your facts correct before you went on to make the rest of your point, which just comes across as ignorant when you don't take the time to properly educate yourself on the topic which you speak.

Michael Leiker 8 years, 12 months ago

It's nice of Keegan to at least be honest about what men like about women's sports:

"In volleyball, the shorts are shorter, not as baggy. More athletic muscle tone is visible."

What a line.

Jayhawk444 8 years, 12 months ago

It's only a recent trend that collegiate athletics has become Big Business and the need to generate large profits and build bigger arenas, stadiums, and training facilities has become tied to success in competition. Junior and senior high schools everywhere field boys and girls sports teams funded directly by the schools (which means most often you and me) and not athletic corporations. And that's where collegiate sports has its origins - a simple extra-curricular activity.

I won't disagree that this is messed up. We've got politicians (Title IX) and accountants driving what sports teams our athletic department decides to support. But to simply say that because women's basketball or any other sport drains money from the athletic department so it should be discontinued is looking at it from the wrong angle

JBurtin 8 years, 12 months ago

Strongly agree.

The University does many, many things that are not specifically for profit, but are all about enriching the college experience.

Universities need an identity that they can advertise to prospective students, and atheltics of all kinds are a big part of that.

Layne Pierce 8 years, 12 months ago

College sports is about the spirit of compeitition and the athletic will to succeed through hard work and determination,and of course if you look good in your uniform that doesn't hurt.

Ashwin Rao 8 years, 12 months ago

Keegs like to light the fire then sit back and enjoy! Love the discussion though!

BTW: Keegs, nice poetic touch in the middle!

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