Softball players bring us Okies back to Earth
A Women’s College World Series tradition for The Oklahoman is a quiz we give players every May. Our man Mike Baldwin asks them pop-culture questions to gauge their likes and dislikes, but we also ask them about the Oklahoma sports scene. It’s one of my favorite things we do all year, because we learn how little a cross section of America knows about us.
Some people have accused us of making fun of the players’ lack of Oklahoma knowledge. Completely false. We’re making fun of our own status as flyspecks in the sports universe. Here are some things we learned yesterday from the eight players (one from each school) and ESPN analyst Michele Smith, who played at Oklahoma State.
1. The Thunder has a long way to go to build name recognition. Only Florida’s Kristina Hilberth accurately named “Thunder” as the OKC team’s name. The closest guesses were “Sonics,” from Michigan’s Teddi Ewing, and “The Mike Baldwins,” from Missouri’s Chelsea Thomas. Georgia’s Kristin Schnake responded, “Didn’t know they had a team.” I promise you, ask these same nine women to name Detroit’s NBA team, and no one is guessing “49ers,” like Smith did.
2. College basketball coaches aren’t the rock stars we think they are. Nine panelists, nine whiffs on “Who is Travis Ford?” I think it would have been 0-for-9 on Jeff Capel, too. Smith, who played softball for OSU, didn’t even identify the Cowboy basketball coach. But we did get a couple of interesting answers. Michigan’s Ewing said, “Owns the Ford Center,” which is telling in and of itself. A Michigan Wolverine doesn’t know the name of our basketball team but knows the name of our arena. That’s got to be pleasing to the marketers from Ford. My favorite other answers were from Washington’s Danielle Lawrie (“country singer”) and Georgia’s Schnake (“famous Indian”). Travis Ford does sound like a country singer, and Schnake’s answer is interesting because it shows awareness that American Indians don’t all come with names like Moses Yellowhorse.
3. Sam Bradford has some Q rating going on even among non-football fans. Only two players adequately ID’d Bradford. Michigan’s Ewing called him “cute Oklahoma quarterback,” and Missouri’s Thomas said “quarterback.” True story. Some high school kids from a small town in the Texas Panhandle came to our office a couple of weeks ago spend a couple of hours and shadow individuals to get an idea about their jobs. A girl, a junior in high school, spent two hours with me. And she raved the whole time about Sam Bradford and what a dreamboat he is. Who knew? Anyway, Bradford’s rock-star status was confirmed that day and this, with Ewing’s answer. And some of the other answers seem to show at least some awareness of Bradford. Alabama’s Kelly Montalvo answered “OU president;” (no, but more popular). Georgia’s Kristen Schnake answered “16th president;” (no, that was Abraham Lincoln, but give Bradford time, maybe 48th). ESPN’s Smith said “curly-haired wrestler;” (no, but you’ve got the curls right. Sammy B’s hair is becoming an iconic symbol).
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