If I was a marketing and promotions guy, I’d much rather have the NCAA women’s basketball tournament to kick off than the men’s.
The Final Four semifinals and championship games for each gender took place last long weekend and, yes, the Kansas-North Carolina men’s title game was a dandy.
But the guys’ Big Dance – the phrase trademarked by the NCAA in 1998 – hardly needs more promotion. It’s been going on for 83 years. Punters, parentheses and hoop lovers everywhere wouldn’t miss it for all Costco’s tea.
Monday night’s championship game brought together two of the greatest heavyweights in college history – Kansas, where Dr. James Naismith himself coached, and North Carolina, where he himself, Michael Jordan, has already played.
But the women’s tournament?
His run for the NCAA championship didn’t begin until 1982 and has been catching up ever since.
South Carolina-UConn may have been a great dance, and the Gamecocks’ 64-49 thrashing against the Huskies was compelling. But that was small business compared to the dudes conga line on hype and gambling bets and probably NBA first-round picks and over-the-top sports chatter.
Women’s football is a comparative startup, which advances in a secondary way. But with the right fit, I’m sure it could turn into a behemoth to rival the billion-dollar March Madness (trademark, of course) men’s money pit.
Oh, and about that trademark, which the NCAA has held since 1989: this year, for the first time, women were also able to use March Madness to describe their tournament.
Of course, anything women want in any sport has to be demanded, snatched, ensnared or chased by men because guys – like all humans in power in anything of any substance – don’t like to share.
Remember, Title IX wasn’t passed as federal law until 1972, and women weren’t deemed strong enough to run the marathon in the Olympics until 1984. And they didn’t. couldn’t ski jump at the Winter Olympics until 2014.
But back to basketball.
A lot of people say the women’s game is slow, old-fashioned, not gymnastic and high-flying. All of this may be true, but that’s only in comparison to men’s football.
The first thing I would do to push women’s football into the stratosphere would be to move away from comparisons with what the men do. Women’s tennis thrives on what women can do on the court, not what they can’t.
Use that as an impetus. Nobody avoids women’s tennis because women can’t serve 140 mph. They love it for what it is – great competition.
I saw that at this year’s tournament. Aliyah Boston of South Carolina and Paige Bueckers of UConn are stars with fascinating games.
Boston, 6-5 and solid, is that game-changing force down below. And Bueckers is that sneaky deer flashing across the prairie.
These are stories that can be built, turned into superstars. Did you know that Boston comes from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands? Probably not. Did you know Hall of Famer Tim Duncan is also from the Virgin Islands?
Put them both in an ad for a cruise line or a hotel chain? I’m on it, baby!
The new image and freedom of likeness of “amateur” college players makes a lot of things possible. Bueckers has already signed a three-year endorsement deal with Gatorade. It has also struck deals with mobile payment service Cash App and online marketplace StockX. Additionally, she has a brand for ”Paige Buckets” for sportswear. She’s making close to seven figures right now, poor thing.
But there is the beauty of it. Use these women as posters to make your game famous and cool. It can be done.
And here is another huge advantage of women’s football: the stars come back year after year. Men, if they are good, are unique. Remember Zion Williamson at Duke? Barely.
Currently, the WNBA will not take any American players until they are 22 years old and have completed their college eligibility.
What a great college promotion – Bueckers and Boston will be back on campus next season. Remember when Lew Alcindor and Larry Bird played four years for their college teams? It was exciting.
You have this, ladies.
But here is an ox. Lose the hair extensions that hang down to waist level and thrash about like a nine-tailed cat. They may be elegant, but they are dangerous and detrimental to the game. Sportsmanship is a virtue in the women’s game, remember.
It’s rare. It is a salable item.
The same goes for large female hoops.