Downgrading Excellence


2009: LeBron James scored an impressive 55 points against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Well it would be impressive if someone else did this. But LeBron has been excellent since day one. So now that is what is expected of him: excellence. It still may be fun to watch, but no longer mind-blowing.

2016: The talk is not LeBron, but Steph Curry.

Now I may be a little biased because my husband is a die hard LeBron James fan, but it really drives me crazy when being great at your sport is described as mediocrity because it was expected from you. Compare this with any game of Steph Curry’s complete with his well aimed 3-pointers, and the fans and analysts go crazy because, well, it may have been out of the ordinary. We have not seen a player like Curry before, so what he does seems much more impressive than LeBron.

2021: Curry is still relevant, but now routine. The new hotshot is having his time in the spotlight while Curry is consistently draining threes that don’t blow our minds anymore.

Our expectations drive our reactions.

Do people expect more out of men because that is what we were socialized to do?

Yes, James and Curry are exceeding expectations as amazing athletes. So quick question: Can you name a single WNBA player who is their equivalent? In other words, do you know about Elena Delle Donne (2015 WNBA MVP) ?

Or Maya Moore (2014 WNBA MVP) ?

Or Candace Parker (2008 and 2013 WNBA MVP) ?

Each of these women are the WNBA equivalent to LeBron James and Stephen Curry. These players dominate the WNBA just like their male counterparts in the NBA. So let’s ask the question again: which one, though, is going to get more hype in the media because of their athletic ability?

Trick question: neither. The media just doesn’t cover women as well as the men. And I believe even if they did, the women’s talent would not be seen as outstanding or incredible because they immediately get compared to the men playing. Some people may deny this, but men and women are different in many ways (gasp). Athleticism is something I believe our bodies are structured differently for. That doesn’t mean being at the top of your sport as a woman is any less than being at the top of your sport as a man. And this little concept right here is the whole shebang. Compare all you want; men have this, woman lack that, blah blah blah. But don’t downgrade excellence because of gender differences. And don’t downgrade excellence because now you’re accustomed to a player’s skill.

Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form a certified trainer, only a student. My opinion is just that. My knowledge is based on my schooling for this degree which is ever-changing and may be outdated at some times. What I post is solely of my discretion and this article is in no way connected with my university, with my program, with any certified trainer’s I am associated with, or the National Athletic Training Association.

You can follow the author of this article on Twitter at @rachmaag.


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