This is a response to Mark C. Moore's post "About the Brittney Griner / Mark Cuban / NBA thing". Because I am long winded and can not (apparently) speak my mind in a succinct manner, I was not able to post my thoughts as a comment in that thread, so here they are...
I'm a realist. I'm also an optimist. This can be a curse...as it usually causes a great stir of emotions in me that can not be contained. I Hulk out on some poor, unsuspecting innocents and wake up the next morning - cold, naked, and ashamed - on the nettle-strewn floor of a sun-dappled forest as a friendly deer licks my face.
But in this Cuban/Griner situation, it helps me see a bigger picture. While I see the realism in saying this probably won't (and maybe shouldn't) happen, I also see the optimism in saying it might (and really should) happen. And I believe the possible positives far outweigh the possible negatives.
Yes, there is a plethora of reasons this could end poorly for Griner: she could get hurt, it could damage her credibility, she could get embarrassed, etc. They're all very sound and based in realism. But there are also many good reasons to believe this could a) be positive for Brittney and b) be a watershed moment in sports history.
As has been noted, this would a be a PR move for Cuban, the Mavs, the NBA, the D-league, and the Summer League. It would also be a PR boost for BG (as well as Baylor). Imagine how her management team could market her if she was known as the first female to play in a professional male sport.
I can see the Nike spots now: James Brown sings, "This is a man's world. This is a man's world." Shots of Brittney training, blocking shots, dunking. The Godfather of Soul continues as The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige, joins in, "But it ain't nothin'...No nothin'...Without a woman." Brittney faces up one-on-one with one of Nike's other b-ball stars (Kobe, Lebron, Dirk) and as they glare at each other, the slogan: "No Man Can Stop Me". You thought you got jazzed over RG3's Adidas spots...
Before I go on, there's also the probability this would add fuel to the fire of people who claim (jokingly or seriously) that she is more male than female. This move would shine a spotlight on their bully pulpit and give them a chance to preach their vitriol to a national congregation. But in my opinion, these idiots should be brought out into the spotlight so we can all laugh at their complete lunacy.
Back to the optimism...what if, in a further PR move, she was actually called up to the Mavs and stepped foot on the floor during an actual NBA game? That would be a huge moment not only for Brittney, but also for sports history. And the PR and marketing behind that moment would be massive and important, which I believe would help us see fewer comments like this:
She's a female basketball player. A league for female basketball players exists; it's called the WNBA. It doesn't make her any less of a basketball player to do it in the WNBA as opposed to the NBA, nor does it take away from anything she's done that she did it against other girls.
I find this comment troubling...here's why:
If you don't know who that is (or can't see the pic).
Just for the sake of argument:
"He's a black baseball player. Leagues for black baseball players exist; they're called the Negro Leagues. It doesn't make him any less of a baseball player to do it in the Negro Leagues as opposed to the Major Leagues, nor does it take away from anything he's done that he did it against other blacks."
The idea that anyone shouldn't try to compete and should only play amongst their own kind is just plain wrong in my book. Because in my book (which should be hitting the shelves sometime around the Holiday Season), we're all of the same kind...Humankind.
Mark, I don't know you. We've conversed on Twitter a few times, I've been a blog reader since the early days, but that's it. I'm pretty sure you had the most positive of intentions with this statement, but you know what they say about good intentions and their propensity to be used as paving materials for passageways into nether worlds...
Regardless, I'm not trying to flame you for making the statement. Just pointing out that it's a mindset that needs (in my opinion) to be changed.
Full disclosure: A year ago, I wouldn't have had this reaction to that statement. I considered myself a believer in the power of women to do whatever they want, but I was overwhelmingly a realist. Then last May, my wife gave birth to the most beautiful, amazing, talented, intelligent little girl in the world...and since then, the power in me has shifted from realist to optimist to, ultimately, (gulp) feminist.
It may sound silly for a man to call himself a feminist. But I am. And I'm not alone, there are dozens of us. DOZENS! So as a man, who considers himself a feminist, how could I ever look my daughter in the face if I didn't point out the fallacy in the argument that Brittney Griner should stay in the women's league because she is a woman and entering the men's league might cause her embarrassment?
There is no way anyone can convince me that my daughter has any limitations because of her gender. And the same holds true for Brittney Griner.
I already point Brittney out to my daughter as we watch the games and tell her how Brittney is proof of just how powerful and talented she can someday be. Imagine the lesson I (and other moms and dads) can teach my daughter if Brittney becomes the first female to play in a professional male sport.
I just don't see how the possible negatives can ever come close to outweighing the probable positives in this case. No matter how I look at it - realist, optimist, or feminist - I only see upside.