Last night, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team broke the college hoops consecutive win record of 88 games set by UCLA's men in the early 1970s. In anticipation of this, UConn coach Geno Auriemma caused a bit of a stir by accusing some male sports fans of being upset because a women's team was threatening a record set by men.
This does not compute. Somewhere there might be a man upset by this -- though I haven't heard one -- but I don't see why: The UCLA men beat men's teams, the UConn women have beaten women's teams. It says nothing bad about men that a women's team has a longer win streak.
Where there might be en element of gender conflict at play is in how UConn got to this point. According to CBSSports.com columnist Gregg Doyel, UConn hasn't just beaten other teams during its streak, it's crushed numerous squads that at least by ranking ought to have been competitive with UConn. (It clobbered 22nd-ranked Florida State by 31 points for win number 89.) The talent pool in women's basketball, Doyel argues, just isn't deep enough to produce several teams of UConn's calibre.
Assuming Doyel is correct, why isn't there the same depth of talent in women's hoops as has existed in men's college basketball since at least the end of UCLA's streak?
Quite possibly, because there aren't nearly as many women who care about competing in sports, including basketball, at the highest levels as there are men. It's a very real possibility supported not only by UConn's dominance, but by what appears to be a strong tendency of other top women's teams to win games by relatively lopsided margins, and, most tellingly, by significant athletics evidence beyond hoops. All of that, however, flies in the face of the implicit rationale of Title IX, the federal statute requiring colleges to offer equal athletic opportunities to men and women. The law assumes that colleges that fail to offer proportionate roster spots are discriminating against girls, but the reality is that women might just not want to play sports as fervently as men.
UConn's dominance might be just one more bit of evidence that it is time to stop assuming that there is rampant, sexist ill will when it comes to college sports, and for government to let people freely choose what interests they pursue. At the very least, it would probably make a lot of people happier than they'd be getting destroyed by the UConn women's basketball team.
That's the question that John Stossel will be asking Thursday night to a motley collection of guests, including P. J. O'Rourke, Andrew Napolitano, Jeffrey Miron, and me. Tune in the Fox Business Network at 8:00 p.m. ET.
It repeats many times, as noted here, but you know, it's like the NCAA championship: you don't want to watch the repeat on ESPN Classic, you want to watch it live with everyone else for the collective experience. So be there at 8:00 Thursday.
Or of course you could just read Libertarianism: A Primer and The Libertarian Reader.
I suppose it should be no surprise that once the Democrats got full control of the federal government, we'd see the feds taking control of every nook and cranny of society, from giving orders to credit card companies to firing automobile company CEOs to demanding a change in the way college football decides its national champion.
Except -- wait a minute -- it was actually a senior Republican member of the House, one of those right-wing Texans, who issued the most direct threat to the football officials summoned before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection:
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who has introduced legislation that would prevent the NCAA from calling a game a national championship unless it's the outcome of a playoff, bluntly warned Swofford: "If we don't see some action in the next two months, on a voluntary switch to a playoff system, then you will see this bill move."
The federal government is set to spend $3.5 trillion next year, with a deficit expected to hit the unbelievable level of 12 percent of GDP. The president is seeking to impose a "blueprint" for federal takeover of health care, energy, and education. He is acting as a super-CEO for the finance and automobile industries. The country is bogged down in two floundering wars.
And Joe Barton thinks the matter that deserves the attention of the Congress of the United States is how college football designates its "national champion."
The best thing that can be said for this is that it's probably actually safer to have Congress screwing around with amateur sports championships than with matters of war, spending, and central planning.