Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Faux Slamma Jamma

One of the first stories I saw on CNN this morning was about a girl basketball player named Candace Parker winning the high-school slam-dunk championship (competing against All-American boys). My bullshit meter lit up immediately.

A story I read later in the day mentioned that the competition was set to be shown on ESPN tonight. Sounds like a job for the PVR ...

And thus I present Cap'n Ken's Too-Deep Analysis of Insignificant Events. Tonight's episode: Lady is a Scam.

I recorded and watched - frame-by-frame, backwards and in slo-mo - the "competition" just now. Let's compare the girl's performace and scores to the guys'.

In the first round, our heroine's first dunk was a basic-as-it-can-be one-hand "dunk" that barely slid over the rim. She scored a 70 (out of a possible 80). Her second was the exact same dunk, except that she passed the ball behind her back during the dribble (not while in the air). That got her a 75.

Here's an actual photo of her fabulous style:



I'd show you a picture of one of the more-spectacular guy dunks, but apparently nobody took any.

But among the moves and scores for guys in the first round were:

A 360-spin, one-hander: 77
Bounced off the floor; caught; one-hand slam: 71
Bounced off the floor; caught; two-handed pump: 75
Bounced off the floor; caught; two-handed tomahawk: 68
Two-handed slam, touched on backboard first: 71

Each and every dunk made by a guy in the first round was superior in style and execution to the girl's, but only two of them scored higher than her 75.

Thus, after the first round the girl was in fourth place, having performed two dunks that I could pull off - albeit on the 9' 10" goal in the park by the cemetery - back in college.

Then, in the final round (the top four advanced), she did the exact same dunk as her first, and scored a 69. She then did the exact same barely-over-the-rim dunk again, except she came at the rim from the front and got a 75. Her final dunk (you get three in the final round) was the exact same dunk as the one before, except that she put her arm over her eyes for one step during her approach (again, not in the air or anything), and the judges went damn nuts. She got a 79 (the highest score of the night).

Having finished fourth in the first round, she had gone first in the final round. Her 223 points (74.3 average score) was completely undeserved, but not unbeatable (the top two finishers averaged 75 a dunk in the first round).

So the guy who finished third in the first round stepped up - and proceeded to muff two of his dunks (you're allowed one muff) and put himself out of contention.

Then the guy who finished second stepped up - and muffed two dunks, taking himself out of contention.

Finally, the guy who finished first stepped up - and muffed two dunks, taking himself out of contention.

The guys were forced to try too-difficult dunks to try to compete with the inflated scores given the girl, and each one blew it.

So she won - by default. The judges pumped up her scores because she's a girl. I don't think they expected her to win; it was probably meant as a "feel good" move "Aw, isn't that sweet - a girl made the finals."

But their tiny little Affirmative Action program backfired. They inflated her performance too much, and the guys who should have won blew it trying to compete with the charity.

Of course, you didn't see that part on the news. Do a Google News search on Candace Parker dunk and you'll find headlines such as:

"Women's Basketball Hits New Heights"
"Parker slams boys to win dunk contest"
"Girl makes giant leap for womankind"
"Dunker leaps over gender gap"

The lead of the ESPN.com story read:
There are moments, stunning indelible moments, that transcend sport, crumble barriers and create icons. ... On Monday night, in a cozy high school gymnasium southeast of Oklahoma City, a 17-year-old high school senior named Candace Parker turned in the latest moment.
Jesus tapdancing Christ.

It's a huge hunk of bullshit, people. But I guess that doesn't make as good a story.

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