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The Daily Swish: Glory Johnson's work on and off the court, Elena Delle Donne's return, and pursuing WNBA dreams

Links spanning from last night's game to a woman making history in the NBA to women in sports speaking out against domestic violence.

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It's been a while since I've done this - and kudos to Albert for stepping up - but you'll probably recall that I usually pick 10 or so of the best reads from yesterday and allow you all to fill in the rest in the comments; not an exhaustive list, but hopefully some good reads that you'll enjoy.

There were five WNBA games on yesterday's schedule, with some history made in the process. So we'll start there with today's links and work toward some real world issues.

  • Lynne Jacobson of the AP reports that Tulsa Shock coach Fred Williams has lofty praise for Glory Johnson after the All-Star forward recorded her 15th double-double of the season last night in a win against the Seattle Storm: "a cross between Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley." While Johnson had another big game, Skylar Diggins more quietly became the Shock's single-season scoring leader with her 11 points last night. The win keeps the Shock's playoff hopes mathematically alive and they look like they're starting to come together a bit after winning two in a row, but they could find themselves on the outside looking in after their next three games: Atlanta, Minnesota, and the Sparks (in L.A.). Read more >>>
  • Terry Killian of AZCentral Sports reports that the Phoenix Mercury knew they came out flat in their 90-69 blowout win against the L.A. Sparks last night but "...made a collective effort to go out there in the second half and try to get that momentum back." The Sparks were playing without star forward Candace Parker, who sat out her second consecutive game with knee soreness but they appear to be playing better now than they were at the time of former coach Carol Ross' firing. Read more >>>
  • The Chicago Sky suffered yet another loss with both Elena Delle Donne and Courtney Vandersloot out yet again, but there was a silver lining: during the broadcast on ESPN2, Delle Donne announced that she hopes to return to action on Thursday for the Sky's game against the New York Liberty. With the Sky still in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt and standing 1.5 games behind the fourth-place Liberty, the Sky couldn't ask for a better time for their star to return. Read more and check out the video highlights at CSN Chicago >>>

  • Mike Stribl of the Daily Freeman wrote up a great feature about Syracuse alum Rachel Coffey, who was not drafted into the WNBA this year but is now off to Europe where "everything is paid for" and she can continue to grow as a player in pursuit of her WNBA dream. If you've ever had any semblance of a hoop dream, you can appreciate her point about simply being grateful to keep playing. Read more >>>
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports wrote an excellent feature on the National Basketball Players Association's new executive director that is not necessarily women's basketball news but certainly significant in the context of women in U.S. professional basketball. Michelle Roberts was elected as the first female head of a players union in any of the four major U.S. pro sports. Although she doesn't have experience in sports, she is definitely a fan of the game: she is a Washington Wizards season ticket holder. Read more >>>
  • Charles D. Ellison of The Root wrote a commentary about why Ray Rice of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens got such a light penalty after felony assault charges for domestic violence against his now-wife, highlighting the fact that in a broader culture where violence against black women is simply not taken seriously we should not expect the NFL to take it seriously either. And Keith Olbermann described how this ongoing story about Rice is directly connected to sexism in sports in particular and sexist beliefs about women more generally.

    Click here to view the video on YouTube.

    Both of those pieces - as well as Olbermann's later interview with Sarah Spain (Part I and Part II) - lay out rather plainly how the sexism that exists in broader society impact the lives of women in and around sports. And of course, the sexism in sports is not limited to athletes or wives of athletes - Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated called attention to the Twitter feed of Andrew Panos, who collected samples of the sexist shaming that Michelle Beadle got after disagreeing with Stephen A. Smith's comments about the Ray Rice situation.

    Those are just the things about this issue that came out yesterday - there has been plenty more written about this issue previously and will probably be even more as the NFL season wears on.

    Until we all forget again.

    And I think that's one challenge set forth indirectly by both Olbermann and Spain: the type of change we need is not merely getting stiffer penalties for a league with misogynists gone wild but making sure we don't just forget about this after the news cycle moves on while Ravens fans cheer on Rice for helping their team.

    To bring this back full circle to the WNBA, the need to keep this issue at the forefront is why that public service announcement that Glory Johnson does during Tulsa Shock broadcasts on WNBA LiveAccess denouncing domestic violence and supporting Tulsa non-profit Domestic Violence Intervention Services (which former Shock player Temeka Johnson also supported) is so important. In addition to letting those trapped in the nightmare of domestic violence know that they don't have to be alone, it is a reminder - no matter how small - that we simply can't ignore the severity of this issue. And, though some object to the WNBA existing as a cause, giving female athletes a platform to give voice to these issues has immense cultural value.

    But the real challenge in all of this is to be mindful that the burden for confronting something as pervasive as sexism shouldn't always fall on the shoulders of women.

    It's easy to look at the obnoxious misogynists on Twitter and feel like the "good guys" for denouncing them (and religiously watching WNBA games to boot!). It's much more difficult to challenge others when they engage in the type of casual misogyny that perpetuates a culture that enables people like Ray Rice. Most difficult: venturing into those uncomfortable moments of challenging friends at the risk of being a killjoy when someone makes an offhand comment. It's those little micro-aggressions that add up to create a culture that is actively threatening for women, as described well by Roxane Gay at Salon last year:

    The problem is not that one of these things is happening, it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.

    These are just songs. They are just jokes. They are just movies. It’s just a hug. They’re just breasts. Smile, you’re beautiful. Can’t a man pay you a compliment? In truth, this is all a symptom of a much more virulent cultural sickness — one where women exist to satisfy the whims of men, one where a woman’s worth is consistently diminished or entirely ignored.

    As men, it's really easy to forget about the pervasiveness of these things as we navigate daily life: we get to denounce things when they happen, but never directly feel the threat of sexism in the way women do. That's what that thing called "male privilege" is - part of it is the privilege not to worry that the very fact of our gender will bring about harm on a day-to-day basis.

    I'm certainly not saying that I'm perfect, but I'm also mindful of the fact that men - including me - have to constantly work to at the very least be better. And it's not just loudly proclaiming that we can be better than the bad guys like Ray Rice or Roger Goodell - that's easy. It's about holding ourselves to a higher standard when we're confronted with the decision to ignore the sexism going on around us on a daily basis or actually step outside of our privileged comfort zones to do the minor work of actively confronting the symptoms of this "virulent cultural sickness" when we have the opportunity, which is far less stressful than living in a society that constantly tells you you're a second class citizen. We have to get to the point where we find these Ray Rice episodes so intolerable that we cannot allow ourselves to let those daily symptoms of misogynist sickness pass by as insignificant.

Obviously there's more news out there today. Feel free to add any other good links you find in the comments or discuss any of the links listed above. And be sure to "like" our Facebook page where we post other links we find interesting throughout the day.