The news is filled with stories about the life (and basketball victories) of Coach Pat Summitt, who died this morning. I’ve been a fan of Tennessee basketball since I moved to the state in 1989. Pat Summitt could do that. For me, the reason was quite simple: she demanded that women and their athletic prowess be recognized and respected.
The second year that I lived in Nashville, some friends and I went to a high school girl’s basketball game in Sparta, Tennessee. The trip to Sparta was driven by the desire to eat at a renowned meat and three restaurant on the town square. We needed something else to do on that Friday night, so we went to see the local high school girl’s basketball team.
In those days in California, girl’s high school sports happened at times convenient for the boys. But not in Tennessee, where the Lady Spartans of White County High School played in a sold-out gym at 7 pm on cold Friday night. I had never before paid to attend a girl’s high school sporting event. But in Tennessee in 1992, girls’s basketball was something to behold and fans paid for the privilege.