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Will You Remember The UCONN Women's Record? Probably Not....

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Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

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How impressive is a feat that no one will remember?  Now that the University of Connecticut women's basketball team has lost their first game since April 6, 2008 after winning 90 straight games shattering the old record held by the same University when the Huskies won 70 in a row from Nov 9, 2001 - March 11, 2003.  The loss to the #8 ranked Stanford Cardinal not only was the game that shattered college basketball's longest streak but also reminded us about how much we really do not pay attention to the sport in general.  In fact when the UCONN Huskies broke the former mark of 88 wins in a row held by John Wooden's UCLA Bruins, head coach Geno Auriemma spoke the truth about the significance of the record:
 
"I just know there wouldn't be this many people in the room if we were chasing a women's record. 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."
 
While I agree that the only reason why ESPN cared about the UCONN streak is because it served their own interests and it was chasing a men's record, the fact of the matter is no matter how many games the UCONN women won....no one considers this streak beating the UCLA mark.  It is a very simple fact that the UCLA record held by "The Wizard of Westwood"'s crew cannot be broken by a women's basketball team.  So again....how impressive is a feat that no one will remember?
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I know I am not saying anything groundbreaking here, but no one in this country truly cares about women's basketball.  Although winning 90 games in a row is an impressive streak in any sport, the fact is that a women's basketball team was the one accomplishing it with a national sports network pumping up the coverage because it serves the product they bought into.  I know this may sound horrible to some and I am sure it shatters the dreams of many young girls, but in the grand scheme of things women's sports do not sell to the mainstream sporting audience.   
 
Case in point is the TV ratings of the record shattering game as UCONN went on to win its 89th consecutive game over the #22 ranked Florida State Seminoles 93-62 in front of the usual sell out crowd at the XL Center in Hartford, CT.  When you do national TV ratings below a one share and get beat by double the national rating of the Beef 'O' Brady Bowl featuring the Louisville Cardinal and Southern Mississippi, what does that say about the feat you have accomplished?  Some can argue that television ratings mean nothing to the importance of a sport, but it is the only true result of what is popular amongst sports fans.  Television ratings show what people are watching and what they care about.  While millions on millions of people watch the NFL on a weekly basis, no one watches the NHL like they do football...hence people are more interested in what Brett Favre's latest rumor is rather than the end of Sidney Crosby's latest point streak.  Yes....Sidney Crosby, that guy that plays for that hockey team.  Yeah....him.
 
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It is easy to say that if a men's college basketball team was chasing John Wooden's UCLA record that the national media and many more people would be tuning in and watching every second to see if the mighty can indeed fall.  That goes for any team in men's sports, but when it comes to women's sports this streak did more harm to the sport than actual good.  For ESPN it is a good thing that UCONN went on this streak that no one talked about till it reached a men's college basketball record, but it also showed how little the general American public cares about it.  When a record setting game for the greatest program in the sport is being beat out reruns of Glee, your sport has a problem.  
 
While this record may get national "play" and attention for a day or two, the conversation of the sport will go back to the void of insignificance it belongs in.  I always find it funny when we have people call in to the Score demanding that they get a topic of NASCAR going the day after a Bulls regular season game or a Blackhawks win.  In sports media you will find that every single outlet (print/radio/tv) will do what we call "play the hits".  In other words no one talks/writes/reports about the UFL Championship game because no one outside the respective cities involved truly cares, same goes for the UCONN women losing their streak.  For example on ChicagoSports.com, the UCONN story falls below Northwestern's bowl game, NFL labor fight, and a Rose Bowl preview.  If this were a men's college basketball team it would be on the front page with big bold lettering and a picture of the defeated as well.   
 
You have to love USA Today's Christine Brennan when she wrote:
 
"If a men's team were in UCONN's position, going for its 88th consecutive victory, coverage likely already would have reached the saturation point with countdown clocks, hour-long specials and grainy retrospectives."
 
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Christine is one hundred percent correct in that statement because sports is no longer about telling a good story, it's about reporting on what people care about.  Obviously from the lackluster attendance and extremely low television ratings on national networks, no one in this country cares about women's college basketball.  Therefore what can you say about a team achieving a record they cannot truly break and its significance in a sport that this country does not care about?  The only reason why any percentage of this country was aware that UCONN won as many as they did in a row is because of the hype machine known as ESPN Television.  The only national outlet for women's college basketball needed something to hype up with a product it has carried for years and had little to no success with.  It also helps that Bristol, CT (home of ESPN) is only 14 miles away from Hartford, CT.  Without ESPN's hype machine attempting to compare UCONN's streak to UCLA's, how impressive is this feat when no one knows anything about it?  If a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does it make a sound?
 
So how impressive is a feat that no one will remember?  Geno Auriemma is absolutely correct when he criticized the media for only caring about UCONN women's hoops when they got close to a men's record.  Christine Brennan is also correct in saying that if this was a men's team doing what the UCONN women did, the coverage would be one hundred times more with much more attention put on the streak itself.  What UCONN's streak proves is that women's college basketball (and women's sports in general) is less significant than it ever has been.  The greatest streak with the greatest team in the sport may be celebrating, but in the end it's all about the numbers and the numbers are simply not there.
 
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How significant is a record that no one will remember?  Do you truly believe people will be referencing UCONN's womens record if a men's team nears John Wooden's UCLA record?  Do you truly believe that the media hype machine of ESPN will wait till their twenty NFL experts are done breaking down games from the past week before getting to their coverage of a record setting men's basketball team on a single Sportscenter?  Do you truly believe that you will not hear a word about a streak till the 80+ game mark with a men's team?   
 
That is all you need to know.
 
What happened again?
 
-RoCk
 
John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
 
You can follow The Mully And Hanley Morning Show at twitter.com/mullyhanley
 
You can follow The Joe O And Rock Show at twitter.com/joeoandrockshow



**CATCH ROCK MAMOLA ON THE NEXT JOE O AND ROCK SHOW SATURDAY JANUARY 1ST, 2011 AT 6PM CST ON 670THESCORE.COM**

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