There's not much more to say about the significance of the U.S. Women's National Team holding its USA Basketball Showcase today than what was said in the video above (via YouTube) published by USA Basketball yesterday.
As sporting events on 9/11 go, the symbolism doesn't get much stronger than actually representing your country after practicing at the Naval Academy and the women of USA Basketball have fully embraced the responsibility that comes with that privilege.
So we'll begin with that today and mix in other news from women's basketball and a bit beyond.
- Amy Rosewater of TeamUSA.org wrote a great feature elaborating upon what playing on 9/11 means to the team with Geno Auriemma saying that it, "...is a small way for the Team USA players to keep the memory of that tragic day alive." Read more >>>
- Kevin Tresolini of The News Journal reported on the difficult process of actually building a unit that embodies the type of cohesion that Auriemma marveled at in Annapolis. Skylar Diggins probably made the most important point for fans to remember as final cuts are made: "It’s not necessarily the 12 best that played. They’re trying to pick a team. That doesn’t mean you’re not good." Read more >>>
- ESPN announced some good news for the WNBA yesterday: despite a historically lopsided Finals series between the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky, a historically lopsided Game 2 garnered the highest rating since 2007 for any ESPN or ESPN2 game. That's the latest of a number of highly rated playoff games this postseason. But is it wrong to still wonder how well a Mercury - Minnesota Lynx Finals series would do? Read more >>>
- Penn State announced yesterday that seven of its former players have signed contracts overseas. Tanisha Wright and Alex Bentley are obviously the two most prominent names on that list, but another player I was curious about in terms of pro potential coming out of college was Ariel Edwards - she signed a training camp contract with the Shock and as a 6-foot-3 forward with wing agility, she seems to be someone who could remain on the WNBA radar. Read more >>>
- Colorado has announced that former New York Liberty guard Chucky Jeffery has signed with Romania's ASC Sepsi SIC Sfantu Gheorghe. That's probably not groundbreaking news to you. But Chucky Jeffery was fairly awesome in the Pac-12 and I'm still a fan. That's all. Read more >>>
Miscellaneous Sports & Society
- There was a ton more talk about the NFL's bungling of the Ray Rice situation, which at this point is a textbook case of how sexism operates (just as the situation with the Atlanta Hawks is a textbook example of how racism operates) in 2014. But if you're wondering why we keep bringing that up here, Makers - which does an outstanding job of collecting stories about pioneers in the struggle for gender equality - made it quite clear why this issue has significance beyond the NFL in a piece the other day: "None of this is unique to the NFL. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 31 percent of women in the US have been physically abused by an inmate partner at some point in their lives. Because the study relies on self-disclosure, researchers concluded that this number was likely lower than the reality. Incidents loom large while support for victims is limited." Read more >>>
Coincidentally, the Baltimore Ravens will officially begin life after Ray Rice tonight by playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that will kick off a little over an hour after the USA Basketball Showcase begins. And it probably comes as little surprise that the NFL has a complicated history with 9/11 that might be even more complicated with the Ravens playing tonight. As Dave Zirin has written in the past, the NFL is an organization that would gladly exploit the death against one of its own if it meant making an extra buck or million and at present it's clear that it's not an organization that will let truth get in the way of the bottom line. In a way, a NFL game - and the Ravens in particular - is the least appropriate distraction on a day like today, almost actively promoting amnesia about some very real social ills instead of embracing a way forward and standing in stark contrast to the women who will be playing for their country at the same time. (As an aside, it's also amusing that for all the nonsense talk about Michael Sam being a distraction this season, the season has already produced so many actual distractions that there's really no room for the soft bigotry and/or clickbaiting of wondering whether Sam is a distraction. I mean, if Danny Ferry was a NFL GM, would there even be room to discuss his comments about Luol Deng?)
But that brings me back to what Auriemma said about the significance of representing the country as a basketball team on this day: a lot of people say a lot of empty words about 9/11, but far fewer actually articulate what exactly we're supposed to be remembering. But I think that Charles P. Pierce of Esquire articulated it well in a piece from 2012: "If we are to have a consensus, if we are to keep September 11 from being an annual exercise in marinating ourselves in distant grief and tinhorn jingoism, we have to act in our politics as though we learned something from it more profound than "the oceans couldn't protect us."
- Along the lines of Pierce's past statements, Antonia Blumberg of the Huffington Post wrote about how September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is leading a campaign about, "...developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice...to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism." But people aren't going to let such thinking restrict their cheap talk about 9/11 today -- everyone's social network will be full of people saying either nothing of substance, spewing mindless nationalism, or begging us not to forget while uttering thinly-veiled sentiments of intolerance that even families of those who lost their lives would disapprove of. But hopefully, at some point in time, we'll get to a point where we can listen to the broader human principles from the families touched by 9/11 and begin to break those cycles of violence in our dealings with the world and with our fellow citizens who we consistently treat like second class citizens in our country.