The price of dominance

Ah yes, those of us in the women’s sports world knew this was coming. From a mile away. The call to drop women’s hockey as an Olympic sport.

Yes, the Canadian and American women’s hockey teams may be crossing the line from dominating to humiliating their competition. Canada won its first two opening games by a combined score of 28-1. The U.S. has won its first two games, 25-1. (See the blog After Atalanta for more details)

And so, since the results are so lopsided, several bloggers wonder if the International Olympic Committee should even keep the sport in the Games.

Sounds similar to some of the arguments to drop softball from the Olympic program since, well, the United States dominated.

But, hmm, when the United States started losing gold medals in men’s basketball and the push to include NBA players began so that they could go “rescue the gold” began, no one seemed to worry about competitive advantage (or disadvantage) then. I’m not saying NBA players in the Olympics are good or bad. I’m not saying that wanting to be the perennial best in the world at a sport is bad. I’m just saying.

You can throw statistics and gender equity legality at the argument, but let’s try this one: What’s wrong with dominance?

I’m the first to admit that it can be difficult to watch the University at Connecticut women’s basketball team right now because, well, they are crushing their opponents. Big time. In embarrassing fashion.

Some argue that it’s good for the game — that the dynasty team brings attention to the sport. Some even like watching UConn because really the team is just that good. And I, took, enjoy watching the skill and the chemistry which has this edition of the Huskies en route to legendary status.

Some argue it’s bad for the game — that parity is the way to go, that competitive balance makes the sport interesting and that when one team dominates, the rest of the sport becomes a bit of a joke.

So UConn rolls. USA softball rolls. Canada and USA women’s hockey practically own a spot in every international championship game.

And this bothers us … why? Are we as a society still uncomfortable with women being not just competitive but ultra competitive? Are we uncomfortable seeing women dominate in sport? Maybe we’re not all that uncomfortable with it, but then again, have we asked the question recently?

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