Supporting women’s athletics, not just paying lip service (Go Badger Women’s Hockey!)

I’m absolutely loving this column Val Ackerman is doing over at ESPNW where she is speaking to prominent male sports executives about the future of women’s sports. It’s at once fascinating, heartening and upsetting. Her most recent is with recent Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. Burke is probably best known around these parts for his no bigotry stance – he’s one of the few high-level executives out there consistently saying all the right things about why skin color, sexual orientation and really anything other than your athletic ability shouldn’t matter on the playing field.

Ackerman talks to Burke about the rapid growth of women’s hockey. I’m a huge women’s hockey fan and supporter and this was the first I’d heard that Burke was, as well, so I’m always happy to hear that high level men’s execs are also behind the women. I started wanting to break down some of the things Burke says, but ultimately, this quote of his is really what it comes down to for me:

Don’t just say you support Title IX, don’t just say you support women’s athletics; buy a ticket, bring your family. Buy a sponsorship on a team, put some money behind this thing, help it grow. If you really believe in women’s sports, there’s an opportunity to show it in a very direct way. Fans vote with their feet. Show up at a game.

– Brian Burke

I can’t stress enough how important this is and I’m going to go ahead and call each and every one of your out. When was the last time you went to a women’s college or professional game? Do you donate to your local college’s scholarship programs? Buy season tickets? Go to a game? Even at the high school level? Do you support fund raisers or pay admission?

If you do, do you drag your friends along? Do you extol the virtues of your favorite game or team? Do you introduce your friends and family to a sport or team they’re not familiar with and get them as excited about it as you are? Do you take your sister or niece or grandkid to as many different sports as you can and foster their love in a way that we didn’t get when we were little?

Because I didn’t used to do that and this year I made a concerted effort to change that. I’ve always been a hugely vocal supporter of Wisconsin women’s hockey, but I’d never put my money where my mouth was before now.

Follow the jump for more on Badger women’s hockey, Team USA and $5 world class talent
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Opening Day Moments That Made Us Smile (so far)

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Mo’s last Opening Day. Insert heaving sigh here.

Never mind that it was Easter weekend. Opening Weekend made it more like Christmas Day at the Bee Household, just as I expect it may have been for you this past long weekend. (True story: we spent Sunday morning watching the replay of Yankees-Army at West Point on MLB.tv via Apple TV. And it was glorious.)

While it wasn’t such a great day for my Yankees – and please, let’s all just calm down, alright? – there was so much to celebrate. For one, I was glad to see Francisco Cervelli back in the regular lineup and having a decent outing at the plate, and hearing the Yankee faithful bellowing YOOOOOOOOUUUUK! (Suck it, Boston. He’s OURS now!) For Boston fans, seeing a strong outing from Jon Lester at Yankee Stadium was likely pretty uplifting. Maybe we don’t need to relegate them to the AL East basement just yet.

Here are a few other moments that may have brought a smile to your face:

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Friday Fellow(s): Feeling Good

We’re going literal this week: it’s Friday, and there are some fellows in the basketball world who are feeling (and looking) pretty good.  Feel free to click the above for a soundtrack appropriate to the coming joy…

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Throwback Thursday: Miracle on Ice

Miracle on Ice Sports Illustrated

I meant to post this last week, but it’s better late then never.

We’ve been doing a bit of spring cleaning around the house, and I was crawling around the attic and stumbled across this copy of Sports Illustrated from March 3, 1980. It was randomly sitting on top of a few boxes, calling my name from across the room.

My dad has been collecting SI since the 70s, and every issue of the magazine since then is somewhere in my house. After finding this issue, I’ve decided to search for some iconic issues and start framing them. Wish me luck!

What I love about the cover is how simple it is. No headlines, no descriptions, no words. Just the pure joy of a couple amateur hockey players beating the best hockey team in the world.

TGIF: Out of the Office Edition

My Friday was technically Wednesday this week – I am somewhere on the Gulf Coast as you read this, so no long post this Friday. However, it’s also the weekend of the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference – which means a bunch of ESPN and other sports world and personalities are out of the office as well. Which panel interests you most?
The discussion about firing coaches (with Stan VanGundy and Brian Burke!) cleverly titled “It’s Not You It’s Me”? The Lance Armstrong discussion (not with the actual Lance)? The surrealism of Mark Cuban and Nate Silver in the same room? Also, how long until ESPN starts streaming this on ESPN3?

Danica Patrick and Lauren Silberman: Why Even Small Firsts Are Still Important

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Danica Patrick has been around, even in NASCAR driver form, for a while now, and if you are like me you’ve gotten used to rolling your eyes at whatever dumb thing the 13 year old boys who run Go Daddy’s marketing department are making her do now and moving on.  So unless you’re a diehard NASCAR fan, you might have missed that this week Danica became the first female driver to ever capture the Daytona 500 pole.

Unless you are a NFL junkie (and I mean a serious, I-am-dvring-the-scouting-combine-footage-on-NFL-Network junkie), you may have also missed that next weekend Lauren Silberman will become the first woman to attend an NFL regional scouting combine as a prospective draftee.

In the context of the wins-oriented sports world, these are not mind-blowing achievements.  No one has won Daytona from the pole in over a decade, and anyone meeting the NFL’s general eligibility requirements (and ponying up the registration fee) can attend a regional level combine (it’s the Draft Combine, which is invitation only, that gets all the media coverage, usually).

But tell the little girls suddenly swarming Daytona that Danica’s pole doesn’t really matter.  Tell the eleven year old in Philadelphia who still is being forbidden to play football solely because of her gender that the best football league in the world accepting a woman’s application to enter their scouting process as if she was any other player is no big deal.  Just think for one minute about SportsCenter Sunday night ending with the traditional celebratory winner and what that looks like if it’s Danica amid the confetti. Think about watching Fox’s Game of the Week on Sunday, and hearing Joe Buck casually announce “Silberman out to attempt the field goal.”  We may be a long way from that actually happening (particularly the latter), but the path to both of those endings just got a little bit smoother.  And that’s something to celebrate.