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HoopIdea: Lower rims in women's hoops

Geno Auriemma, legendary coach of the Connecticut women's basketball team, recently suggested the women's game would be improved by lowering the rim seven inches, from 10 feet to 9-5. The idea touched off a firestorm of discussion. Reactions from all over:

  • Kate Fagan, ESPN W: “The larger takeaway from Auriemma's comments is there is something wrong with the women's game. And it's true -- there is. The problem is people insist on comparing it to the men's game, suggesting women would attract more fans if they dunked and played above the rim, like men. I've always thought the selling point of women's basketball was the emphasis on player and ball movement, rather than high-flying athleticism. Also, if the argument is that people don't watch women's basketball because it's slower and less explosive, then lowering the rim -- all the rims, for girls and women everywhere -- does nothing to change that.”

  • Johnette Howard, ESPN W: “Auriemma may not be the perfect messenger for all this for some folks' tastes. But the message itself is a provocative and valid one. There are indeed times when women's sports need to ask if perhaps we need to get over ourselves a little. Or if some of the things women's sports cling to are actually part of what's holding things back.”

  • Jeff Eisenberg, The Dagger: “First, lowering the rim would cheapen women's basketball in the same way it would delegitimize baseball if the fences were moved in 50 feet at every ballpark to artificially create more offense. Second, would a few more two-handed dunks and a marginal uptick in shooting percentage really do much to fill seats at arenas or increase sluggish TV ratings? The quality of the highest level of women's college basketball has improved dramatically in the last 15 years, but there are always going to be folks who compare it unfavorably to the men's game and complain that it's too slow and not high-flying enough.”

  • Gregg Doyle, CBS Sports: “Most athletes who play this sport -- as is the case for boys and girls in almost every sport -- won't play it beyond high school. They'll never play for crowds of thousands, or for television audiences of millions. They'll never be used as instruments for lucrative television contracts. They'll just be playing a game. Basketball. With rims that have been 10 feet since the game was invented.”

  • David Whitley, AOL Sporting News: “We just see all those clanged layups and go zzzzz. Fixing that is not meant to be an insult. It would be a concession to the horrifying reality that men and women are not constructed the same.”

  • Zachary Schonbrun, New York Times: “Other coaches around the country applauded Auriemma’s forward-thinking outspokenness. Most believed an immediate switch would be impractical — considering the number of high school gyms and playgrounds that would need adjusting — but they agreed with his central tenet: more people should be considering ways to improve women’s basketball as an attraction for fans.”

  • John Altavilla, Hartford Courant: "As far back as the 1970s, coaches such as DePaul's Doug Bruno, now in his 27th year with the Blue Demons, realized how unfair it seemed to have women play a game where the dimensions were designed to accommodate taller and stronger men."

  • Miriam Krule, Slate: “From personal experience, when I used to play during recess, or after school, there were never enough girls for a pick-up game, so we often had to convince the boys to let us play with them. We usually succeeded, but always played by their rules and, more importantly, their equipment. Unless someone comes up with a remote control to quickly adjust the height of the hoop depending on who’s got the ball, these co-ed games would present a huge disadvantage and discouragement to any girls who might want to play.”

  • Bob Ryan on ESPN’s Around the Horn: “Nothing you do will make some men watch this game, okay? Now, in terms of Geno, he does know more about the game than almost anybody -- I think it's a very interesting proposal that will probably have a lot of merit. The only problem is that in terms of the actual jumpshooting, (it) would be down. But the fact is that the women who are involved in this game -- the women coaches, administrators -- would be very upset at the idea that women's inferiority is at the root of this." (via Swish Appeal)

  • Deron Snyder, Washington Times: “Dropping the rim wouldn’t decrease expectations or lower standards. It would raise the level of enjoyment for our girls. And their fans.”

  • ESPN W readers respond to Auriemma’s suggestion.