Could Baylor's Brittney Griner Play on a Men's College Basketball Team?

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreHoopsCollege Basketball National Lead WriterMarch 8, 2013

Mar 04, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears center Brittney Griner (42) reacts during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats at the Ferrell Center.  Baylor won 90-68. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor's Brittney Griner scored 50 points this week in a win against Kansas State.

Scoring 50 points on any level is an incredible feat, and it's clear that Griner, at 22 years old, is already in the conversation for greatest women's basketball player of all time. 

The question that follows, though, is one that has sparked more contentious debate: Could Griner play on the men's side?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Griner is 6'8", 208 pounds, and does most of her work in the post. She plays in the same building as Baylor freshman Rico Gathers, a forward on the men's team who also likes to position himself down-low. 

Gathers is 6'8", but outweighs Griner by more than 50 pounds. More importantly, he, and the rest of Bears men's team, have athleticism that she cannot match. 

A lot has been made that Griner now has 14 dunks in her career, which suggests maybe she could hang (and jump) with the men.

Watch that highlight reel of Griner's 50-point game. It's amazing, but it doesn't show that Griner could play on the block or above the rim with the men. 

The women's game and the men's game are comparable on several levels. At the core, both games are about dribbling, passing, cutting, shooting and working as a team. 

However, the differences are obvious. The best explanation for why a woman cannot play in the men's game is that the game moves much faster. The players are much bigger, much stronger and much more physical. Almost too physical at times. 

The strategies are not all that different. A women's coach (male or female) will eventually cross over to the men's game, and will do so effectively.

A debate surrounding a coaching shift is worth having. Why it hasn't happened already points to archaic thinking by college administrators. If we need to validate the women's game somehow, validate it in that way.

But saying Griner cannot play with the men is not archaic, nor is it sexist. It is an opinion that should not be put to the test. 

Appreciate Brittney Griner as one of the greatest women's basketball players we have ever seen. Appreciate her accomplishments. Don't diminish them because they have come in the women's game.

It is not lesser. It is just different.


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