National Columnist

Lowering rims to boost scoring in women's hoops? Geno's math is hideously flawed

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Geno Auriemma says the average fan wouldn't notice if the height of women's rims are lowered. (US Presswire)  
Geno Auriemma says the average fan wouldn't notice if the height of women's rims are lowered. (US Presswire)  

Women's basketball isn't growing as a spectator sport, so UConn coach Geno Auriemma wants to lower the rims. Lowering the rims will lead to more offense. More offense will lead to more fans. More fans will lead to the growth of women's basketball. That's what Geno Auriemma believes, so that's what Geno Auriemma wants. He wants to lower the rims.

Because the sport is too difficult -- too difficult for women to play at 10 feet, and too difficult for spectators to watch. That's what Auriemma is saying. I mean, he came right out and said it: Women don't shoot well enough to play on 10-foot rims.

So, says Geno Auriemma, let's make it easier for the women. Let's lower the rims seven inches.

"The average fan," Auriemma says, "likely wouldn't even notice."

Auriemma refers to stagnant attendance figures, even declining attendance figures, to prove his point.

"What makes fans not want to watch women's basketball is that some of the players can't shoot and they miss layups and that forces the game to slow down," he said.

You know, maybe he's onto something. If the rules of basketball, as they've been written for more than a century, are just too damn hard for the women, maybe they're too hard in other sports, too. The 100-meter dash, for example. The 10-second barrier is what we revere. Men break it all the time. Women? They don't break it -- not yet. So let's accelerate the process and shorten the distance by 7 meters.

The average fan likely wouldn't even notice.

Women's swimming? They're faster than you and me, but they're not as fast as the men. But there's a way around that: You know those swimsuits that have been outlawed in the Olympics because they're too buoyant? Let's change the rules -- women can use them.

Women's golf? Good sport, but not good enough. Not if you use the Auriemma Axiom and base it on attendance at events. But if we changed the dimensions of the actual field of play, maybe interest would grow. I have an idea! Have women play on courses where the putting green is shaped like a bowl. Shots to the green would funnel to the cup like sands through an hour glass. Or like toilet water down a commode.

This is what Geno Auriemma wants. He wants to dumb down the game to the level of the dumb fan. They're not watching basketball as it was brilliantly conceived, so let's dumb it down. Right Geno? This is a deep thinker, this Geno Auriemma. In fact, he's wasting his time in sports.

This is a man we need in charge of our education system. American kids are getting worse every year in math, but maybe math is too hard. This whole notion of there being one correct answer, and only one, for the typical arithmetic problem is so last century. Auriemma would see the value in turning math into horseshoes. Are you close to the right answer? Close works. Nine multiplied by eight is almost 74. So count it good on your test score. Pretty soon American kids will be right up there with everyone else in the world, ready to succeed at their level. Because we made it easier for them. Poor little tykes.

Other sports need fixing, too. Women's soccer does OK, but more offense is always appreciated. Same with women's hockey, so here's what we're going to do. We're going to make goals a little bit wider. The average fan wouldn't notice. And if that doesn't work, the hell with it -- no more goalkeepers.

American sports fans are morons. Me want offense!

The marathon is another thing that needs work. The world record in the marathon is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Well, that's the record for men. For women? It's 2:15.25. But if that woman were to stop in 2:03.38, she'd have gone 23.8 miles -- so that's the new distance for the women's marathon: 23.8 miles.

On second thought, never mind. Running a marathon is too damn hard. Sign up, and we'll give you a T-shirt that says you finished the race -- but to get credit for setting a world record, you'll have to run the full 23.8 miles. Or 23 miles. Ah, just get close and then tell Mr. Guinness how to spell your name.

I'm being silly here, but so is Auriemma. And for a smart guy, he's not being logical either. He bolstered his argument for lower rims by comparing softball to baseball.

"Why is softball played on a different field than baseball?" Auriemma said rhetorically. "Why don't they ask those women to play with 90-foot base paths?"

Well, because a bigger, heavier softball doesn't fly as far as a baseball. So the outfielders could get away with positioning themselves 200 feet from the plate, not 300. And if the outfielders are that close, the infielders could move in, too. So when the shortstop fields a grounder and throws to first base, the batter wouldn't be within 25 feet of first. Softball would be destroyed by switching to 90-foot base paths.

Other than that? Great analogy, Geno.

And great idea on the lower rims, too. Women don't score as efficiently, so let's make it easier for them. Most athletes who play this sport -- as is the case for boys and girls in almost every sport -- won't play it beyond high school. They'll never play for crowds of thousands, or for television audiences of millions. They'll never be used as instruments for lucrative television contracts. They'll just be playing a game. Basketball. With rims that have been 10 feet since the game was invented.

But we're going to lower the rims for the girls. And why would we do that? Well, sweetie pie, you're just not good enough.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. More importantly, he is 4-0 as an amateur boxer, with three knockouts. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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