I asked a colleague to see if he could find the origin of the widely accepted “Big 4” sports term used in media. You know, the quantifier to keep the conversation to the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL? So far we can’t find an origin or reason why hockey is even included over soccer, which outweighs all of them on a global scale.
This discouraging notion that those are the only sports that matter hit its zenith in Seattle when national media felt the need to quantify the magnitude of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl championship as the city’s first championship since its NBA title in 1979.
When the Storm’s two WNBA championships were mentioned as the actual “first” since the Sonics in the 1970s, the “Big 4” quantifier was thrown out there despite no harden definition or legit reason this term exists, accept to push women’s achievements — and soccer — out of the picture.
Amelia Wilson, a 13-year-old in seventh grade at Tillicum Middle School in Bellevue, is just as befuddled as Storm and women’s equality supporters who took to social media to voice their concerns. “Why don’t women get as much recognition for sports accomplishments as men?”, she asks in a well-researched class assignment we posted on our “Take 2” blog.
I asked PG Sue Bird, leader of both Storm championships, what she thought of the debate and she said she wanted a definition of the word “major” or “Big 4” when it comes categorizing sports. She watched the Super Bowl from Russia where she plays offseason hoops.
“We’re a ‘major’ sports team in this town. Anything that says different is ridiculous,” Bird said sternly.
Karen Bryant, the Storm’s president and CEO, said her front-office could have done more outreach as the Seahawks were making their championship run. But, after being around for 15 years and covered better than most WNBA teams, the Storm didn’t figure it would be overlooked because it’s a women’s league, regardless of its importance to Seattle.
“Obviously we’re frustrated by it,” Bryant said. “But at the same time, we also understand we still have a lot of work to do.”
And it has nothing to do with the Hawks. At the Storm’s special events this spring and exhibition game on Sunday, numerous fans wore Super Bowl championship shirts or jerseys of Hawks players. In fact, the only reason the debate caught quickfire is because majority of the Storm fans were watching the Seahawks because they equally love both.
Imagine that, equal in the city’s hearts but not in the media.
“I’m a Seahawks fan, too, so I was excited for the Hawks,” said Dawn Trudeau, chairperson of the Storm’s Force 10 ownership group. “It was nice that some of our fans reminded people that there was another team that had a couple of championships in this town. But it’s hard not to just be happy for them (Seahawks).”
Naturally, it’s not just Seattle where terminology in the sports lexicon is being questioned. The Minnesota Lynx rival the Storm in terms of local media coverage it receives. The Lynx ranked second in the 12-team WNBA in attendance the past two years, averaging about 9,500 fans. Yet, when the Wild lost a NHL playoff game, Minnesota’s lowly sports postseason record among its pro teams was examined — dismissing the Lynx’s two WNBA championships in the past three seasons.
They’re not part of the “Big 4,” a reporter quipped.
“This is one of those instances where you go, ‘C’mon, take that next step,’” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told the MinnPost after first expressing her point in a series of posts on her Twitter account. “And understand by not taking that step and not including us, it is marginalizing, framing women in a way that keeps us down.”
Reeve’s statement is a point that’s refreshing to see a person as young as Amelia Wilson noticing and wanting to help change.
“Equality between men and women is a civil right,” she wrote.