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March Madness: A double-edged sword

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March Madness has been infused with excitement and drama — and the hype remains high heading into Dallas. But there is still one issue, in particular, obstructing our front row seat to the best of women’s basketball.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Stockton Regional-South Carolina vs. Quinnipiac John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas, TX — And then there were four...

There really are no ifs, and's or buts about it – the road to Dallas has spoiled us all. The elusive performance of Mississippi State’s Morgan William; Stanford’s epic comeback over the Fighting Irish; Connecticut’s continued dominance; Dawn Staley and South Carolina’s rise to the top.

As encouraging as each year’s March Madness seems to get, with more and more excitement, drama and upsets, there are still too many critics and cynics trying to bring the rest of us down with them. There are too many perceived truths being perpetuated about the state of women’s basketball.

The reality is this: everyone’s voice matters. Every journalist, commentator, and sportscaster advocating for female athletes and women’s basketball is powerful – yet still overshadowed by things like Twitter trolls, the less than mediocre coverage, or the fact that the unrivaled success of UCONN is hardly seen as a big deal.

March Madness has given us so many encouraging things to talk about. But it does unveil the sorry truth that sexism still lingers in more ways than one. Click on any given post or thread from ESPN, read the comments and try to argue otherwise. There are likely countless other examples, but this is instantaneous proof that many (not all) will knock down the game any chance they get – even after a year like this one.

So what do we do? We stand back up. We fire back. We still believe in everything March Madness has proven and showed us, regardless of the neigh-sayers. We, in so many ways, actually feel bad for the people who tab women’s basketball as a disappointment without even opening themselves up to it.

Maybe, I don’t know, sit down and actually watch a game before you throw out the overwhelmingly unoriginal and gross ‘kitchen’ or ‘sandwich’ comments. Trust and believe, my friends, there is no shortage of those even in 2017. Feel free to click on the links above to see for yourself. It is unfair for people who only know women’s basketball on a surface level to be skewing perception in an unfavorable direction.

We’re still waiting on answers for how dominance is “bad,” why more media outlets won’t take a chance on women’s basketball and what more can be done to derail inaccurate beliefs and ignorant attitudes. The product is there – as proved in this year’s Final Four lineup especially. Now our responsibility is ‘selling’ the product in a way that, as crazy as it sounds, continues to bolster reality.

Because the reality is exactly what it is. The current state of women’s basketball is really, really strong – it’s the perception that’s off. What makes our jobs a little tougher as fans, coaches, players, journalists, broadcasters and the like is that these negative perceptions have existed for so long, making them extremely difficult to disrupt.

Good news: it is only a matter of time before more people view the women’s game through the same lens that we do.

“They” don’t have to necessarily like it, but they should sure as heck respect it.

Sexism may persist, but so will we. There are no ifs, and's or buts about that, either.

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