By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

If Candace Parker is going to keep on "dunking" and ESPN is going to keep on "hyping" and women's college basketball fans are going to keep on "deluding" themselves, then I'm going to keep on "writing" how foolish it all is.

Candace Parker
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Slam dunk, or slam lay-in?

It's been two years since a group of simple-minded, well-meaning judges set the game of women's basketball back by handing Parker the McDonald's All-American slam dunk contest title. Which means it's been two years since I appropriately pointed out the stupidity of women embracing the dunk.

Unfortunately, we've learned absolutely nothing between now and then.

Seriously -- I just reread the column I wrote after Parker "won" the contest, and it brought back memories of all the angry e-mails, letters and phone calls I received from potential, stay-at-home-and-never-watch-on-TV WNBA season-ticket holders. Remembering the outrage almost made me reconsider writing this follow-up column. But Wednesday evening, at dinner, my lawyer reminded me of how little I've matured in two years.

"Jase, what you continue to fail to realize is that women don't really want to hear the truth. The key to a relationship is telling them what they want to hear and celebrating the dumb stuff they do as a virtue."

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Well, I guess that explains why, when Parker laid the ball in the basket and grabbed the rim afterward twice in Tennessee's rout of Army in the NCAA Tournament, it was hailed as man-walking-on-the-moon news in the sports world. Parker was the first woman to (almost) dunk twice in a college game.

What's next? First women's hooper to cover her entire body in prison tattoos? WNBA players investigated for running up huge tabs in the champagne room of the Gold Club? Sue Bird strangles her coach at practice? Lisa Leslie attacks beer-tossing empty seat, sparks nasty melee between players and bored arena ushers?

Making a big deal of Parker's slam lay-ins is an insult to women's college basketball, and potentially damaging to the game. We're promoting the very act that is credited with ruining men's basketball, and we're telling female players the quickest way to get on "SportsCenter" and become a star is by dunking the basketball.

Yes, you could argue that Parker's slam lay-ins brought publicity to the women's tournament. So what? All publicity is not good publicity. She's publicizing the absolute weakest part of her game. Michael Jordan received a lot of attention for playing baseball, and all it did was make people speculate more about his gambling habits. Parker has a complete game -- she can pass, shoot, dribble, defend, drive -- and we should be focused on that, and not her awkward, inartistic attempts at mimicking Air Jordan.

Oh, and never mind the fact that it is a horrendous business and marketing strategy for women's college basketball to look anything like the men's game.

Seriously, the NCAA should outlaw dunking in women's basketball. Pass the Candace "Abdul-Jabbar" Parker rule.

If the goal really is to grow the game -- and not experiment with making women get in touch with their male side -- supporters of women's hoops should do everything they can to distinguish their game from the men's. American men have perfected the art of fundamentally unsound, dunk-happy basketball. That cash cow has been milked.

So has the March Madness cash cow.

Candace Parker
AP Photo/Wade Payne
Parker can do a lot more than "dunk," and that should be celebrated.

It is absolute lunacy for the women to hold their tournament at the same time as the men. For years I've been campaigning for the women to move their tournament to April. If the women started their season a month after the men and held their tournament in April, basketball fans and sportswriters would have an opportunity to appreciate the differences between the men's and women's games.

But maybe this goes back to my main point: Maybe the people running and promoting women's college basketball are too stupid to realize that it would be healthy for sports fans to recognize the differences between the games.

If removed from the shadow of the men's tournament, the women's game could build a tremendous following in April. Right now the women's game receives guilt-based media attention, or hype for its stupid human tricks (Hey, look at Candace; she can almost dunk like an eighth-grade boy).

The game deserves better. Wouldn't you hate to be a Connecticut basketball fan this time of year? It's nearly impossible to support both teams in person. You can't tell me that a high percentage of the Huskies men's fans wouldn't also like to jump on the women's bandwagon full steam and travel with Geno's crew during the tournament, or vice versa.

The reported attendance at the Connecticut women's victory over Virginia Tech was 3,693. That was a pretty good crowd for the Big Dance few people attend.

Sports fans are not ignoring women's college basketball because the games are no good. We're ignoring it because the game has refused to properly define itself and mark its own territory. No one wants to see women play the game the way that men do. Hell, did you miss the Team USA fiasco? A lot of Americans don't want to see men play the game the way men do.

And while it might be exciting to see Vince Carter hang on the rim and growl after an alley-oop dunk, I can guarantee you that no one wants to see Candace Parker do it. Consider it another one of those ugly double standards that you're better off embracing rather than fighting.

You know, it's sort of like how we find twisted humor in Shawn "Big Love" Kemp's romantic life, but wouldn't find it remotely funny if Serena Williams loved as freely.

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at ballstate68@aol.com. Sound off to Page 2 here.


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