Mill’s view of Geno Auriemma and UCONN Women’s Basketball
In December of 2010, the UCONN women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma made somewhat controversial comments regarding his teams’ quest to break the record of most consecutive wins in college basketball. A record that was originally set by John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins who won 88 straight games from 1971-1974. One of the main things that sparked Auriemma’s comments is the division and inequality seen in men and women’s basketball.
“I just know there wouldn’t be this many people in the room if we were chasing a woman’s record,” the Connecticut coach said Sunday near the end of his postgame news conference. “The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men’s record, and everybody is all up in arms about it.”
He then went on to say:
“All the women are happy as hell and they can’t wait to come in here and ask questions. All the guys that loved women’s basketball are all excited, and all the miserable bastards that follow men’s basketball and don’t want us to break the record are all here because they’re pissed,” Auriemma said. “That’s just the way it is.”
The UCONN women went on to break the record winning 89 straight games before losing. Auriemma’s controversial comments pushed me to look back at our debate in class about the difference in women and men’s sports. In this case we see that although it may not be true, Auriemma felt that his team was not receiving the same respect as men would have received if they were breaking the record. Is it because they are women? Why is it that they are not receiving the respect they deserve?
Looking into Mill’s The Subjection of Women it is interesting to consider how Mill may consider Auriemma’s comments. On page 679 of Modern Political Thought, Mill states “any woman, who succeeds in an open profession, proves by that very fact she is qualified for it.” Women’s and Men’s basketball is separated into two and therefore it is hard to compare the records between the two different genders. I personally would think that Mill would consider the women’s streak just as legitimate as the men’s streak which they defeated. As stated in his quote, these UCONN women succeeded in an open profession and therefore are just as qualified as men. Mill would realize where Auriemma is coming from and I think he would support the statements made.
Later on in the reading Mill states, “It is by no means established that the brain of a woman is smaller than that of a man. If it is inferred merely, because a woman’s bodily frame, generally is of less dimension than a man’s, this criterion would lead to strange consequences.” Is it reasonable to consider that maybe Auriemma’s comments were accurate? Unfortunately, it seems that many times people think of women’s basketball as less because women are less physical and have smaller body builds than men. In my opinion, based off of this quote Mill would continue to support the UCONN women by retaining the idea that just because a woman is smaller doesn’t mean she is not as smart or less worthy of appreciation when accomplishing something great.
Wootton, David. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche.Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2008.
John Wooden and Bill Walton: