Do You Support Women’s Sports? I Haven’t And That Needs To Change.

In The Fan Experience on March 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm

For those of my readers who do not know, I actually have two blogs. The”mommy blog” is Connelly Confusion, and the sports blog is Gameday Goodness. GG has been terribly neglected since November but those of you in the blogosphere know how that can go.

Baseball season has arrived though, and I love baseball. The Gamecocks and Cougars are doing pretty well so far, and it’s awesome to see such great attendance for the games. My daughter has begun her softball season and so we’ve got cleats, bats, helmets, etc., strewn all around the house. It’s hard not to get into the spirit of the spring.

I skipped out of March Madness this year, because I really just haven’t been feeling it. Like I said, I’ve paid so little attention, it would be a total crapshoot anyway, so instead of throwing good money away, I just stayed focused on baseball. I knew somewhere in the back of my head that the Lady Gamecocks had an excellent season, but had paid them no mind either. I actually had no idea until yesterday that they were playing Purdue for a spot in the Sweet 16, or had set a team points record in the game that got them to the field of 32. Anyway, as a fan of the school, I figured I should just check it out.

Y’all. Let me tell you. That game was fantastic. The very outsized Gamecocks had total and complete control of that game from start to finish. The pressure these women applied on defense was outstanding. The shooting was excellent and the scrappy, never say die, don’t give them an inch style of play did not let up even once. At one point during the game, I said to my husband, “If women’s sports were always this good, I’d probably watch more of them. You know, if there were more than fifty people there and this level of play.” Mental pause. To self: WHAAAAT???!!!

I couldn’t believe I said that. It’s not the Lady Gamecock’s fault that typically their turnout isn’t the same as the men’s. They are an outstanding team. Way more successful than the men’s team, actually. It isn’t the school’s fault either – the women’s basketball team is promoted too. Whose fault is it, you ask? It’s mine. And yours. And everyone else like us who doesn’t pay any attention to women’s sports.

After hearing those ridiculous words come out of my mouth, I began thinking back to the last time I watched a women’s team in person, other than my daughter’s. I had to go back to college, which was longer ago than I’d care to admit. Why did I go? I worked for the athletic department – I had to be there. I have a distinct memory of being at a CofC Lady Cougars softball game, and no one being there but the team, the school employees, and maybe a few family members, friends. Less than twenty people were in the stands. They were good too and no one knew, or cared, as far as I can recall.

My children have been to several collegiate sporting events. Were any of them the women’s teams? Nope. As a parent of a girl, I’m ashamed of myself. She plays softball, and I took her to see baseball. She played soccer and I took her to see football. As the parent of a boy, I’m ashamed of myself. Is his sport more important than his sister’s? I know I’m going further with this than the reality, but I’m trying to make a point. If I am the gender equality mom that I think I am, my daughter deserves to be exposed to sports played by people of her own gender, or what message does that send to her? My son needs to know that the women who play these sports are just as athletic, hardworking and talented as the men, or what message does that send to him?

I hope to change this, sooner rather than later. There are tons of opportunities locally to see collegiate women’s sports, and yours truly is definitely going to go buy tickets. For all of us.





Take Me Out To The Ballgame

In Baseball on March 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I love baseball. Currently, this would seem obvious – as a Gamecock fan, it’s easy to proclaim the awesomeness of baseball while riding the wave of back to back National Championships. (We closed down Rosenblatt, in case you hadn’t heard) And, as usual per this woefully neglected blog, I am only referring to college baseball – the pro’s may as well not even exist in my little world.

But the sport itself is fascinating to me. Complex, yet simple, simultaneously. The premise is easy – the execution is the challenge. I don’t even bother trying to understand the record keeping. Recently I read Moneyball, and basically had to think really hard in order to understand the book simply because of the sheer quantity of information – stats, stats, and even more stats. Regardless, I pushed through and became privy to one of the greatest stories in modern sports. Numbers never lie, and once the pattern was revealed, Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane became a man obsessed with them. As an aside, if you are a sports fan reading this blog, I highly recommend the book, as well as the movie. Truly fascinating stuff.

Baseball moves slowly for play after play, and then, in the blink of an eye, points are scored, runners are thrown out and history is made. Anyone who has played a sport of any kind will attest that the waiting around for play action is enough to make you climb straight out of your skin. When you are sitting in left field while your pitcher throws strike after strike, it’s hard to stay focused, to stay as taut as an arrow on the string, ready to fly at the flick of a wrist. But stay on task they must, while those of us watching from the comfort of our sofas are lulled to sleep by the slow cadence of the broadcast. That one moment of acceleration to catch a outfield fly ball begins and ends in an instant, and yet can change the course of a game entirely.

There is a certain kind of mystique attached to America’s pastime, though. A mythical quality not yet breached by this country’s other love, football. For while the football fans are legion, baseball fans are different. They notice subtleties and dissect them endlessly, challenging the outcome of a game by posing possibilities that seem minute, but game changing nonetheless. Neither is superior over the other; they are simply different animals. Football is power while baseball is prowess. Football is the bear, while baseball is the wolf.

I grew up watching baseball, often supervised by adults holding cigarettes to keep the bugs away. Sitting on aluminum bleachers for at least two, sometimes three hours at a time, making countless trips to the snack bar for blow-pops, sodas and popcorn. Eventually I sat in real seats watching local minor leagues and my beloved Gamecocks. By then I was there for the socializing, the dollar beer, and the cheap entertainment. But now I’m back as a lover of the game itself, and am happy to report that it is exactly as it always has been – slow and fast, simple and complex, all at once. Take me out to the ballgame, sooner rather than later, please.

“Baseball is a ballet without music.  Drama without words.”  ~Ernie Harwell, “The Game for All America,” 1955

Grieving at Happy Valley

In Football, Inspiration on November 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

By the time this post is read, I seriously doubt that there is anyone who has not heard about the horrific scene at Penn State University. The entire nation is horrified and furious, and rightfully so. But this post is not about Jerry Sandusky, or Joe Paterno or even Mike McQueary. It’s not even about a couple of thousand students being ridiculous and shaming the school even further with their protest turned riot.

It’s about the 40,000 or so other students who did nothing wrong and who are absolutely heartbroken over the disgrace brought down on their beloved institution. It’s about the staff and faculty at PSU who are having to struggle past the media into buildings in order to get to work and class.  It’s about the collective heartbreak of a nation, for the victims, for the school and for themselves. It’s about their attempts to reach out, to rebuild and to heal.

Yes, I’m outraged. I’ve cried and read more than I probably should. But I don’t live there, and it’s not my team or my school. When I place myself in the shoes of those in the thick of this, I am even more sad. The disgust of an entire country has been lodged against them all because of the sick and twisted actions of a few.

Again, as a wannabe sports blogger, there are things I would be remiss not to write about here on GG, but I think that the media at large has it pretty much covered. As a person with a friend at PSU, I have become intrigued about what isn’t being covered. There is a glaring lack of reporting on the overwhelming sadness and grief of the students, faculty, staff, and fans, not to mention the complete disruption of life and total chaos both night and day.

PLEASE NOTE: obviously the victims of these horrific crimes are THE focal point and I am in NO WAY putting aside their pain and tragedy, it’s just that this post is not about them. I’m not saying this isn’t the most important thing – it’s just not the only thing.

There has been little to no mention of the efforts of various organizations of students and staff to reach out to the victims or simply to gather together to pray for them. No coverage of bunch of football players who have steadily worked their butts off and secured a very successful season but have about zero chance of a normal Saturday for their game. No mention of mothers taking their children to draw encouraging words and pictures with chalk on the sidewalks near the stadium. These people are fallout from a personal disaster not of their making.

My goal is, like I told my friend, is to shine the spotlight on the good guys. We know who the bad guys are but do we know any of the good ones? I didn’t until today. Did you know that yesterday kicked off the PSU “100 Days to THON”, an event that last year raised over NINE million dollars for pediatric cancer research? I didn’t. Did you know that this is the largest student run philanthropic organization in the world? I didn’t. Did you know that a group called PSU Hope is holding a candlelight vigil tonight to honor and reach out to the victims of these terrible crimes? I didn’t. Did you know that what is normally a nationally recognized “WhiteOut” at Saturday’s game has been changed to “BlueOut” in support of the fight against child abuse? I didn’t.  

What I do know is that there is so much more where those few examples came from. I know that this institution is grieving and wants to change the focus of this circus back to where it belongs – on the victims and their families, back to prevention of child abuse, back to reaching out to those affected by this horrible situation. 

Darkness is simply the absence of light. Light has been shined upon the evil that was visited upon helpless children and that glare is deservedly bright. But there is a shadow that has been cast upon the innocent bystanders of this school and they could stand some light too. Let’s remember that Penn State is more than Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Mike McQuery, etc., and they want to help. To make things right. To be a part of the solution. To say with one voice, “This is not who we are.”