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Column: Covering women’s basketball is a responsibility, it shouldn’t be taken lightly

Women’s sports deserve good faith coverage. Not empty feel-good stories.

WNBA: Connecticut Sun at Indiana Fever Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s basketball is a serious sport and it deserves to be covered in a serious way.

Really that’s what this whole article is going to boil down to. It’s not really a difficult concept to grasp and yet here we are.

Bluntly, Crimson Quarry is not The Standard in women’s basketball coverage. We miss things, we’re not insiders and we’re the fan blog tweeting a picture of Mackenzie Holmes celebrating a Big Ten title in response to good news about the program.

We are not full-time sportswriters. We’re three dudes who met through this blog doing our best to make sure there’s consistent coverage of the Indiana women’s program outside of student media at the university, where two of us got our start as writers.

I wrote a bit over a year ago that it was a goal of ours to provide equal coverage of the men’s and women’s programs at the university, including labelling stories as “men’s” and “women’s”. Something that seems an obvious step in the right direction and taken from my time with the Indiana Daily Student.

But doing so, showing up to the men’s and women’s games as a writer, really cements the gap in coverage between the two programs.

Indiana’s media room is entirely full for men’s games against the likes of Merrimack or a directional Michigan school. For women’s games against Top-10 teams boasting talents like Taylor Mikesell and Caitlin Clark, you’d be lucky to see the first two of three rows of press seating full.

Then, when the big name blogs that cover men’s basketball actually do show up, they’re there to ask the same vague question to write their one big story on the season. Something weak, like “Is your team a Final Four contender?”

Nothing about a key steal from Grace Berger off of some great defense from Chloe Moore-McNeil. Nothing about Mackenzie Holmes leaping in the air for a thunderous block. Nothing about the team’s play design or style. Those questions typically come from the students who are actually there for all the games covering the team.

That’s not coverage. It’s patronizing and has no place in a serious media operation.

Indiana was literally the No. 2-ranked team in the nation and everyone who was paying any attention at all could’ve seen it coming. I didn’t walk by an empty reserved seat for the big recruiting blogs in town every game during the 2021-22 season for them to only show up when it gets too big not to cover.

I don’t cover the teams full-time and I’m able to go to their games. Certainly someone who does this full-time can do so and far more easily.

It is abundantly annoying to see that story go untold by the writers with the largest platforms. And then, when they do show up, they’re there to put a positive spin on everything like they’re at a kids game. Or, worse, they only write about the halftime theme instead of the basketball.

Oh but it gets even worse. Going as far as saying the Indiana Fever, the state’s WNBA team, aren’t like the Colts or Pacers and are instead like the Triple-A baseball team based in Indianapolis is absolutely nuts.

They’re for “family entertainment” more than a serious sport because they have a kids fun zone I guess? Because the Colts, with a sponsored playground on the Indianapolis canal and countless activities for kids aren’t? Because the Pacers, with a similar setup for kids, aren’t?

What’s the difference between the Colts/Pacers and the Fever? The Fever have a more recent championship and play in a major league. The Fever have a dedicated fanbase. There’s one difference and it’s that it’s a women’s team.

I cannot believe something that minimizing of women’s sports was written and published. It’s absolutely wild and incredibly insulting to not only the Fever, but women’s sports as a whole.

Showing up and only putting a positive spin on the sport while not even writing about the basketball is, once again, not actual good faith coverage. It’s lazy and a waste of everyone’s time.

Indiana women’s basketball is a serious sport trying to win a national championship. The Indiana Fever are a serious basketball operation trying to win a WNBA championship.

The Fever selected South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. Boston is one of the best players in the history of the college game and, beyond that, is an incredible person with so many stories to tell. She could very well be the face of the franchise and become an Indy sports legend.

But nope. Let’s have a million stories about how the local product from the Hoosiers didn’t play in her first game as a rookie.

Look, it’d be neat to watch Grace Berger play WNBA minutes but it is going to take time and that was very much a given. The talent gap between the WNBA and college basketball is drastic and it’s actually a smart move for the coach to give her time to adjust instead of throwing her onto the court for marketing or whatever.

If you watched the preseason games, you’d know this. She’s an incredible talent that’s gonna need some time to get used to the pro game.

Does the WNBA have issues? Yes! The league needs to expand, add roster spots and land a better broadcasting deal. That’s what serious coverage is, asking those questions and writing about the team in a critical way instead of showing up to pat yourself on the back.

One last point here.

Teri Moren has repeatedly said that she, and her fellow coaches around the country, view growing the game of women’s basketball as a responsibility. She’s built a top-10 program that’s getting airtime on ESPN. She wants more women’s basketball games to be viewed by national audiences (ideally with better officiating).

They’re not the only ones with a responsibility here. Members of the media who cover the sport have a responsibility to use their considerable platform to set the standard. Actual, critical coverage (well, coverage to begin with for a few outlets) that helps fans engage with and learn the game.

If you have the best sportswriting job in the state, you should not be openly admitting on Twitter that you rarely cover the state’s preeminent women’s professional sports franchise. You certainly should not also say you aren’t doing so in a serious fashion.

These stories deserve to be told in good faith.

Take Indiana women’s basketball as seriously as you take the men’s program. Cover the Fever just like you would with the Colts or Pacers, both of which have also been struggling as of late.

The sport deserves that, it literally always has.