Brittney Griner Deserves A Real NBA Tryout, Not A Publicity Stunt
By Travis Waldron, ThinkProgress
Apr 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN this morning that his team would consider drafting Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 standout for Baylor University’s women’s basketball team, in the second round of June’s NBA Draft.
“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told ESPN’s Tim McMahon Tuesday night. “I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it.”
That chance, however, should be a real one, not a publicity stunt aimed at selling tickets, as the Jazz selection of Harris admittedly was. The perception of female athletes is already too skewed by an inherently sexist world of sports to give Griner a cynical shot – or worse yet – a cynical spot on the team. Take, for instance, the immediate reaction ESPN received when it promoted Cuban’s comments on Twitter with the hashtag #GrinerNBA.
The disgusting responses #GrinerNBA received aren’t just aimed at Brittney Griner, though. They’re emblematic of a sports culture, particularly among fans, that simultaneously objectifies the appearances of female athletes and rejects them as incapable athletes. It’s no secret that the bodies of female athletes (and women in general) are objectified in ways that men’s bodies rarely, if ever, are. And women like Griner who don’t fit the “sexy” model are instantly judged as not sufficiently feminine. That helps foster stereotypes of female athletes that create problems in their own sports and drive women and girls not to sports but away from them. It also prevents us from seeing women like Griner as the phenomenal athletes they are, from appreciating their skills and accomplishments as athletic triumphs and not as diminished products because of how they look or because they aren’t playing the men’s game.
That we have so far to go in viewing Griner and other female athletes on their own merits, both as sportswomen and as people, is precisely why her NBA tryout, if it happens, can’t be a cynical stunt. Her success or failure should be based on her merits alone, and if it is, neither Griner nor the NBA will be any worse because of it. Cuban seems sincere. That’s good, because a real chance, no matter success or failure, will continue the fight to slowly break down the barriers and perceptions that face female athletes.