1) I’ve been enjoying the Women’s College World Series the past two nights. Of course, I have a very strong rooting interest, since my alma mater is in the best-of-three championship series (now tied 1-1 after Michigan’s 1-0 win over Florida last night, behind the shutout pitching of Haylie Wagner).
Mgoblog has been providing good coverage and Ace had a nice post about the series before last night’s game two.
This, in particular, summed up my own feelings well:
I DIDN’T PLAN TO BE THIS EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED. At some point in the later innings last night, I realized I was more emotionally invested in the game than I had been for any Michigan sporting event since the Elite Eight game against Kentucky. It felt great, even without the desirable result. I’m no softball buff—like many of you, I started watching when the games hit national TV—but it’s impossible to watch one of these games and not get hooked in by the skill, excitement, and emotion. These are world-class athletes hell-bent on making their games as fun as possible.
If it ends tonight, it’s been a wonderful ride. I hope it doesn’t end tonight.
Thankfully, it didn’t end last night.
2) On a related note, Curt Schilling has joined the regular announcing crew to provide commentary during the championship series. As Ace says, he’s done a really good job, overall. During the first game, there was a little bit of softball vs. baseball stuff, but mostly Schill’s made good observations, given appropriate props to the quality of play and athleticism on display and stayed out of the way of the more experienced women – including all-time great player Jessica Mendoza – calling the game.
ESPNW had a good interview yesterday with Schilling about his experience at the WCWS. As a reminder, his daughters play softball and when, earlier this year, he announced proudly on twitter that one of them had gotten a scholarship to play at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island, a bunch of morons started tweeting vile garbage at Schilling. Schilling responded by going Liam Neeson in Taken on some of the worst offenders.
3) Dave Berri has a good column at Time about why there aren’t more (any) women coaching men at elite levels. Berri says that, in addition to the obvious discriminatory pattern on display, a problem in its own right, the almost total exclusion of women from coaching men is also bad for business.
Unevenness in coaching isn’t just unfair; it’s also bad business. As economist Gary Becker explained, when a firm intentionally reduces the pool of talent it considers, it makes itself worse off.
Consider the story of racial integration in the NFL. The Washington Redskins, which was the last NFL team to integratein 1962, won about 36% of the games the team played from 1946 to 1962. In the 16 years after the team integrated, Washington won 52% of its games. This seems to suggest the team was holding itself back by not hiring the best players.
Berri knocks down the argument that women aren’t well-suited to coach men’s sports – like football and baseball – because they haven’t played them. But the proportion of men coaching women’s softball has tripled in the past generation, with men now making over one-third of all college softball coaches. And the ‘experience’ argument obviously doesn’t apply to sports like tennis (where only Andy Murray, among the top-50 male players, has a female coach – Amelie Mauresmo) or basketball.
This is particular glass ceiling remains firmly in place.