Diversity Increasing in Sports

    Over the past two weeks, a pair of remarkable happenings took place in the sports world. What the two events have in common is that they both helped create more diversity in the melting pot of athletics.

    In Dallas: For the first time ever, a Chinese basketball player laced up his sneakers and headed to the court in the NBA. The NBA has been around for over 50 years yet, until now, no one from China has ever played on a NBA team.

    This does not mean that professional basketball will be filled with people from China or that China will suddenly become a superpower on the basketball court. This does, however, help to smash any stereotypes that may still exist.

    Aerial accidents may happen, accusations of stealing nuclear secrets may come to the front, China may be an oppressive, totalitarian, human rights-violating country; but in a way, it all becomes moot upon the placing of an orange ball into a cylinder 10 feet high.

    The sports world was transformed another way this weekend. Women’s soccer, which has been on the map for more than a couple of years now, has finally been given a professional league of its own. Sunday was the premier of the Women’s United Soccer Association.

    Just a few years ago, a group of the best soccer players in the world tore through international competition to win the World Cup. Then came a run in the Summer Olympics in Sydney; women’s soccer had stormed onto the scene.

    Now they have a professional league where their skill and athleticism can be enjoyed for an entire season. The new league has eight teams, and yes, one of them — the Spirit — is located right here in San Diego. The team will play its home games in Torero Stadium at the University of San Diego.

    I hope that the league is popular and survives. I watched part of a game yesterday, and I have to say that there are many worse sporting events on television. Can anyone say “”XFL””?

    My skepticism comes because the men’s league has been struggling. It has decent attendance and a good number of season ticket holders, but ratings on television are dismal. Americans just aren’t into soccer. There were enough people watching Sunday’s match, but it was on TNT– not exactly a major network. Plus, the novelty will soon wear off and only the true fans will remain. Let’s hope that there are enough of them out there. I enjoyed watching the WUSA, but give me the UCSD team any time.

    At UCSD, we are used to diversity. For every men’s team there is a women’s team for the same sport (except golf). Athletes from a variety of backgrounds compete at the collegiate level.

    So, there were two changes in the sports universe. Hopefully they didn’t go unnoticed by everybody.

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