The UCONN vs Notre Dame rivalry has highlighted a bigger issue with the perception of rivalries in women’s basketball leagues.

There is an issue with perception in women’s basketball leagues around the world at the moment. The issue of rivalries being called petty. The latest he said/she said is between UCONN and Notre Dame. If you are reading this article, you will probably know about it by now. It is not this rivaly which is the point of the article, it is the perception of it.

If men’s tensions boil over, you are standing up for your teammate or standing up to the opposition, it is expected. You are seen as less of a man if you do not do it. If there is an issue in a female league, it is reported as pettiness or bitchy. This is actually a tremendous example of the perception issue between mens and womens leagues.

Chiney Ogwuminke, a top talent in the WNBA and a multi-platform ESPN commentator summed it up in a recent tweet.

Why are women not allowed to express themselves in a negative way during games without it being called bitchy or petty? If you want to watch vanilla basketball where there is no feeling or emotion, the WNBA or NCAA are not the place for you. Women’s college ball is super competitive and the WNBA is a professional league.

A big part of the popularity of NCAA, both the men’s and women’s competitions us the rivalry between the colleges. Apparently when the males have a rivalry, it is just that, a rivalry. They throw machismo around, bump chests and sometimes it escalates even further.

As we have found in the women’s side of the competition, when there is a rivalry it is petty. The problem with this is men still want their women to be lady like. Sorry guys, the 1950’s are over, women are allowed to be who they are, not who men want them to be.

When you watch the WNBA, the Phoenix Mercury are compelling viewing. The reason for that is simple, Diana Taurasi. Not only is Taurasi one of the greatest players of all time, she plays hard and is feisty, very feisty. Her on-court persona is tough, compromising and sometimes she needs conflict to focus her game.

Recently retired Minnesota Lynx legend Lindsay Whalen also ran her team with a combination of subliminal skill and competitive fire. We all know the success this bought the franchise. I can go along all day with these examples but that is not the point. The point is, these leagues need this level of fire and therefore competition to survive.

The quality of basketball is also extremely important but sport is about rivalry, you have to believe you are better than the opposition. Without this belief, you are in for a losing season. This is why there are so many alpha personalities playing sport at the highest level, you have to want it and believe it.

It is high time for our women basketball players were allowed to be seen as players. The game is greater than the gender, it is time we saw this.