A kid who grew up in my part of the world used her fame in a good way the other week.
I wasn’t watching the ESPYs Awards Show when Breanna Stewart accepted the Female Athlete of the Year trophy. I don’t. Yes, ESPN does a good job timing its extravaganza, putting it on during baseaball’s post All-Star Game off-day. But still. I’m not a fan of Awards Shows in general. The Grammys, yes, always, for my lifelong love of music, my time writing about it those two decades I covered music for the big daily, and my fascination for the mash-ups they put together. The Oscars, almost always, especially now that I review a movie a week here. But the ESPYs don’t grab me.
Yet Stewart’s comments on the big stage received a lot of play around my part of the world. I read them in the big daily, in fact. She grew up in a suburb of Syracuse, attended Cicero-North Syracuse High School, beat the Syracuse University women’s basketball team with her Connecticut squad for the national championship just this very season for her fourth straight title for UConn. She’s beloved here. Central New Yorkers are proud of her.
And many people say she’s the best women’s basketball player ever.
After all of that college basketball success, she was the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, and now plays professionally for the Seattle franchise. The Storm is not that good, not nearly as successful as UConn.
It may have been an awakening for Stewart, who grabbed her trophy and used the spotlight as a platform.
“During my time in college, I received an enormous amount of media attention. I’m grateful for that. And now that I’m in the WNBA, playing with other amazing female athletes, I’m trying to understand why we, as professional female athletes, do not receive anywhere near the fame. This has to change,” said Stewart.
“And I know that everyone in this room loves and supports women and girls in sports and wants to be a part of that change, right? Equality for all takes each of us making an effort. Thank you for this honor and, together, let’s be better.”
Yes, that would be wonderful. Gender equality in all things, in fact, should be our goal.
I fear that it will be a long time coming in our sports world, attendance-wise, TV-viewership-wise, and thusly, contract-size-wise.
Our society is thoroughly wedded to the NFL and men’s college basketball and football and major-league baseball in a way that makes it hard for other sports to gain a foothold in popularity.
Bravo, nevertheless, Breanna, for speaking up and speaking out.
Here’s the link for the photo of and quote from Breanna Stewart.
<strongDo you think it was right for Breanna Stewart to speak out at the ESPYs to push for women’s sports’ popularity? Do you think women’s sports will gain in popularity in America? Do you think women’s sports can catch men’s sports in popularity in America?