“I guess I’m married to Lil Wayne because he tweeted that I was his wife. I didn’t know we were married, but, I guess we are. He’s a huge artist, one of the top artists in the country. My teammates and I listen to him a lot. That was tight, him tweeting at us and wishing us luck. He was watching the game and gave us a shout. I think that says a lot about how big women’s basketball is becoming and it appeals to all audiences.”
-Skylar Diggins in an interview with South Bend Tribune
At a viewing party for last night’s NCAA Men’s Championship game, during a particularly frustrating second half, a group of friends (all male) began discussing the women’s national championship game to be played Tuesday night. It was the first time in recent memory that 1) a group of men were anticipating a women’s basketball game and 2) They actually knew the names of players from Texas A&M and Notre Dame.
They’re not alone. Men across the country have been salivating over one Fighting Irish player in particular for the entire tournament. Skylar Diggins, a sophomore guard for ND, has caused quite a stir on the internetz recently, becoming the #1 trending topic on Twitter and prompting several entertainers to take notice.
Besides Lil Wayne calling her his “wife” and wishing the Fighting Irish well in the national championship, it seems even more shocking that the ratings for Tuesday night’s game will be one of the highest for a women’s game (March Madness, national championship, or otherwise) and UCONN isn’t even playing.
Diggins is only 5’8″, but in her freshman season, led the team in scoring, steals and assists. She also set Notre Dame freshman records for steals (90), free throws made (111), free throws attempted (142) and minutes played (1,028). She’s gorgeous, DJs a little on the side and has already taken her place as the face of women’s hoops (she spoke last summer at an ESPNW panel on the future of women’s athletics). Did I mention she and her teammates are the reason Maya Moore (the other heartthrob of women’s basketball) is watching the game at home???
Across the court, Texas A&M has two stars with the same name breaking down stereotypes as well. Senior Sydney Colson and Junior Sydney Carter don’t fit the caricatures of female basketball players (where you’re either pegged as looking like a man or playing too girly). Carter is listed at 5’6″ but plays with the heart the size of Brittany Griner.
Colson, the sister of friends of the Thread, brings the senior leadership to this team that is going to make this game one for the books. She also has some amazing “I whip my hair back and forth” action going on in that ponytail.
ESPN.com writer Jemele Hill’s boyfriend asked her to get Maya Moore’s autograph when she was in CT, and Hill claims her man “acted like he got a pic of Halle Berry” when he received it in the mail. Little girls growing up today are going to pick up the hype surrounding these players and feel like they can still be seen as attractive or even famous by pursuing sports. These role models do more for confidence, self-esteem and positive self-image than any other female entertainer can. Studies show that female athletes are more likely to graduate high school without becoming a statistic (pregnant, dropout, addicted to any substance).
Tonight’s game shows how far women’s sports have come, and the potential for ladies’ hoops to increase in popularity in the years to come, thanks to the work of not only the traditional women’s basketball powerhouses of UCONN, Tennessee, Stanford and Rutgers, but the emerging players in Carter, Colson and Diggins on the big stage tonight.