This is Indiana.
Basketball is the thing here. That doesn’t necessarily mean droning on about hoops on a barn like certain broadcasters who don’t really get it though.
This state produces basketball talent at an alarming level, there’s a reason for that crowd that clamors for Indiana men’s basketball’s head coach to recruit the state (even though that doesn’t necessarily yield the best results).
You hear all the stories, the boys who grow up watching Indiana (or Purdue, I guess), the amateur and developmental leagues around the state and the towns that absolutely fill their local high school gym on game nights.
What you don’t hear? The same things about the women’s game.
There are countless girls around the state who grow up dreaming of basketball too. One of them, Ali Patberg, has helped lead Indiana’s women’s basketball program to heights previously unheard of.
And now those girls around the state have role models to look up to in these players. They too can be Mackenzie Holmes lurking down low and making defenders pay. They can smother an opponent on defense like Nicole Cardaño-Hillary. They can be nearly automatic from midrange like Grace Berger.
They can go down as an Indiana legend like Patberg.
We see you.— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) March 23, 2022
We hear you.
We love you.
So they deserve to have their stories told with the same respect the boys and men have been given for decades. It’s long past due.
You may have read this in a column from the Indiana Daily Student, but words have power. When you think of Indiana Basketball, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? My bet’s on the men’s team.
Sure, you can explain it away by citing each program’s historical success or whatever, but this is a problem for teams without five banners on the wall too. Tons of men’s basketball programs refer to them selves as “Whatever University Basketball” while the women’s team uses the “Women’s” label.
“It’s just words,” you say. Well, you’d be incorrect.
Women’s basketball has been treated as a sideshow by many in the media landscape for so long now. Some outlets do a much better job of covering the game than others, newspapers usually do a pretty good job of this.
Other outlets treat it like a second class sport. They’ll send reporters to watch boys basketball just to catch a glimpse of an Indiana commit or even a recruiting target. There’s breakdowns of how recruits/transfers will fit on the court, projections and a constant stream of content.
The women’s game doesn’t receive the same treatment. Men’s stories will be labelled “Indiana basketball” or “IU basketball” while the women have a signifier. Why?
The women’s team just doesn’t get the same level of coverage. They’ll get a fun little story here and there, a gamer, a little update or whatever. Press conferences for the men’s team are PACKED while the women’s team has tons of empty seats.
It’s long past time for that to change. Crimson Quarry has been labelling stories about the men’s program as “Indiana men’s basketball” for a while now because we believe both programs should be treated as equals.
That’s not some colossal change, but we believe it’s at least a step in the right direction. Moving forward, we’ll be trying to provide equal coverage of both programs. Analysis of how new recruits fit on the court, stories about players and projections.
Sports media has needed to take a thoughtful look at how it treats and covers the women’s game, and I’d like CQ to be a part of that change.
Thank you for your readership.