The awards are coming this time of year.
As is the case with every award list, there were glaring omissions and world-class snubs on each list. With the AP teams, in particular, some of the best players in the college game garnered only honorable mentions: Alaina Coates, Jordin Canada, Tori Jankoska, Brooke McCarty, Kristine Anigwe and Nia Coffey stand out the most. Other great players didn’t even make the honorable mention list: Monique Billings, Kaela Davis, Rebecca Greenwell and Myisha Hines-Allen, just to name a few.
It’s important to remember that choosing award winners is an impersonal process. A panel looks at lists of players, compares stats and other factors, and votes. Only a small number of players can make the list, despite a talent pool that continues to grow each year.
Winning awards is also about exposure. Players from most of the big conferences get plenty of that on TV. One exception is the Pac-12, which has some kind of conflict with Direct TV that prevents their games from being broadcast on those channels. As a result, West coast games are woefully underexposed on the East coast, where many voters and much buzz potential lies. The Pac should make it their highest priority to work out a deal that allows fans from across the country to see the magnificent women’s basketball product that lies within the conference.
A third important factor in whether or not an athlete wins an award is how much publicity she gets. UConn players have at least a half dozen publications writing about them all the time. Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina also get great coverage. If there is little media around a team, the school and the sports information director should be sending out regular news releases to outlets across the country to keep their athlete’s names in everyone’s minds. I am on the email list for many schools, and far more should be sending out regular press releases to pump up their players.
Schools, sports information directors, coaches: are you doing everything you can do for your athletes?