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Sports update: Pat Summit set the standard on and off the court

pat summitt 8In this age of the 24-7 news cycle and the desire to give ?hot takes?, the media is too quick to brand things as the ?best? or ?legendary.? Moments after winning the title, the pundits had to start talking about LeBron James? place in history. We have to instantly rank everything in a historical context before the event is history.

With all that said, there is no doubt the importance of former Tennessee Women?s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt, who passed away last week. We can debate where she ranks as one of the best coaches (hint, it is one or two), but there is no debate on her importance to the game and to society as a whole.?

Summitt fundamentally changed women?s basketball. Her teams added a toughness and athleticism that was previously lacking. She changed how the game was coached and how it was played and those changes found themselves creeping into other women?s sports and the perception of female athletes.?

When Summitt took over at Tennessee in 1974 as a 22-year old, the state of Tennessee did not have 5-on-5 girls high school basketball. They played 3 on offense, three on defense, half court basketball because the perception was that female athletes could not handle the demands of 5-on-5 full court basketball.? 10 years later Georgeann Wells was dunking in a college basketball game.?

When she took over the NCAA couldn?t be bothered to sponsor women?s basketball and the team bought their uniforms, uniforms that she had to wash as part of the job, with the proceedes from a donut sale the year before.?

She made $250 a month, drove the team?s van to games, and frequently saw her team have to sleep in the opposing team?s gym. Today UConn coach Geno Auriemma makes over $2 million a year and you can bet the team is not taking a van to games.?


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