Sunday, February 1, 2009

Number One. Thousand.

This week there's a pretty good chance that Pat Summitt will win her 1,000th game, bringing her record to 1,000 wins and only 186 (or 7 or 8) losses. The first opportunity is tonight at Oklahoma and the next is Thursday in Knoxville against Georgia.

Just like with her 800th and 900th wins, the critics, cynics, chauvinists, and general whiners, will start to kvetch and say that her 1,000 wins aren't the same as if a men's coach did it because there isn't the same level of parity in women's basketball that there is in men's basketball. True. And that she was only able to achieve this number of wins because she started coaching at 22 and men's coaching is too competitive for any of them to be able to start coaching at such a young age. Also maybe true.

I don't deny that these are things to consider. I just think maybe they should also consider that there is another side to this coin. That maybe there are other obstacles and other factors that some of the greatest in men's basketball coaching never had to deal with and/or probably aren't willing to do.

Because you know what else is true?

Pat Summit's starting salary was $8,900 a year. For that pay, in addition to coaching the team, her job included making flyers and posting them around campus to get people to attend the games, doing the team's laundry, and driving the van.

She went into labor while in another state recruiting a player (Pennsylvania, I believe). She got back on the plane and flew home so that her son, Tyler, would be born in Tennessee. Two weeks later she and Tyler were back on the plane on another recruiting trip.

Last year, to support the men's team in their game against Florida, she dressed up as a cheerleader and performed at halftime.

She even carpools to work.

There are a lot of other facts and figures that could be tossed about regarding game attendance, season ticket sales or championships won. Or that 65 of the current coaches in women's college and professional basketball are former Lady Vol coaches and players. Or that until this past year the highest-rated sporting event on ESPN was UT vs. UCONN for the 2004 national championship. But I'm sure they could all be countered with some wise-ass opinion inevitably arguing the superiority of men's coaches.


But until I see Coach K or Bobby Knight in a cheerleading outfit - they can keep their opinions to themselves.

Good luck Coach Summitt.

Go Lady Vols!


Gert's Maw said...

Know i'm preaching to the choir, but Pat Summitt will probably always have the honor of being the only coach in Division I to have 1,000 wins. The reason is because of the way coaches are hired and fired, espcially the men's coaches.

Bobby Knight is the only men's coach to break 900 wins (902). Not that I care what he thinks, but he is going to be on ESPN2 tonight to cover the game.

See you at EB&G at 6:30. Go Lady Vols!!!

gertrude said...

And to clarify... the "they" in the last sentence was referring to a general "they" and not Coach K or Knight. They are both very supportive / complimentary.