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ESPN: Promote Women's Basketball At All Costs

In my previous post, I dissected the "dunk" by UT's Candace Parker and briefly mentioned how it is being promoted by ESPN in much the same fervor as they did Pat Summitt passing Dean Smith on the all time wins list even though the two sports are completely different. Where the alleged dunk is concerned, ESPN once again is adbidcating any semblance of fact and reality by promoting Parker's "dunks" as the real deal. ESPN's Graham Hays said in his article:

But Parker's dunks were different. The first one came in the flow of the action, with a defender in close proximity, and with the outcome of an NCAA Tournament game still very much in doubt. In fact, after Parker's first dunk, the Lady Vols responded with a 24-2 run.

Parker's dunks are important not because she got her hand above the rim and scored two points by pushing the ball through the hoop, but because it highlights the player at the forefront of an athletic revolution in women's basketball.

First of all, does anyone really believe the result of this game was ever in doubt? Army beating Tennessee would be the same as the army of Iceland taking the White House, it will never happen. When Parker "dunked" the ball it but the Vols up 15-14 with 13 minutes to go in the first half. A one point lead not even midway through the first half does not constitute the game being in doubt. If they were up one in the latter part of the second half then that might be true but as he points out UT went on a 26-2 run after that so let's not make it sound like the "dunk" occurred during a portion of the game where UT was in danger of losing.

Secondly, his description of the dunk is completely false based on the replays I have seen and the picture I have posted above. Hays claims that Parker got her hand above the rim and pushed the ball through the hoop. The replay and the photo in my previous post clearly show that Parker pushes the ball over the rim and then grabs it but did not, in my estimation, push the ball through the hoop which would be consistent with the definition of a slam dunk. If she had pushed the ball through the hoop with her hand the ball would not be slightly above the rim as her hand is grabbing the hoop. Pushing it through means the ball is forced downward and past the rim before the rim is grabbed the player. In Parker's case it was clear that she was able to put the ball above the rim but because she did not have the necessary lift was forced to let it go and grabbed the rim with her fingers. The ball then moved over the rim and fell through. In most dunks seen in the men's game whether with one hand or two, the player is able to put his whole hand above the rim and with the flick of a wrist push the ball downward through the hoop followed by a grab of the rim. It is an important distinction and one ESPN does not seem to be bothered by because it would negatively influence their relentless promotion of their women's broadcasts

Now, let me be clear, I think women dunking the basketball is great and I am not disparaging this out of some sexist agenda. My beef with ESPN is their insistence upon calling this something that it clearly is not in an effort to promote women's basketball which they are the sole presenter of in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN has a business relationship with the NCAA to promote the game and grab ratings so I find an inherent conflict of interest in making so much noise about calling what Candace Parker did a "dunk" when it is clearly was not according to the best available definition. There are multiple elements of the women's game which make it less enjoyable to watch than the men's game and one of them is the lack of above the rim action. That being said, having women go down the court and perform borderline slam dunks or worse yet layups while touching the rim which are then called dunks may be more harmful to the game than not having that aspect at all.

It was not a dunk, at least not in my opinion, and even if it was a borderline dunk, it had less wow factor than a reverse layup and does not garner the hype ESPN is giving it in an effort put bodies in front of the TV during women's basketball broadcasts.