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Animosity Toward Connecticut Women's Basketball Reflects American Feelings About Success


The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is under fire again. No, the Huskies have not been accused of cheating. They are not accused of dirty play nor are there any allegations of academic fraud or misconduct.

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They are simply winning at a high level, and apparently a lot of Americans are not ok with it.

My question is simple: Why are some people not ok with it?

This is a question and issue that does not live in the sports world alone. It also crosses into politics and economics. We seem to be fine with everyone having a chance to succeed and even eventually enjoying some success. But when someone becomes so proficient in what he or she does and their success turns into domination, however, we find a way to make them the villain.

The New England Patriots, since the turn of the century, have been the NFL's most dominant team. We've found a way to paint them as cheaters. The New York Yankees are historically the most dominant franchise in American sport. We don't like how much money they spend to win titles, even though there is no salary cap in the sport. Notre Dame football has seemingly endless funds, their own TV deal with NBC, and are attached to the Catholic church. They probably have more haters than any other collegiate sports program.

Those are just some examples in sport. Think about Apple. It wasn't long ago that Apple was the brand of the little guy — real rags-to-riches story about a man who created something, was ousted by corporate America and then returned to make what he created great again. And then Steve Jobs was gone. Apple marched on, continued to accumulate wealth and have success. Slowly but surely, many Americans have grown tired of Apple. I've heard people say "they're just about the money now."

I've got news for you — they've always been about the money. So have most businesses, and any business that isn't about the money won't be in business for long. The same goes for sports teams and winning.

I see a lot of calls to action to support small businesses. Everyone wants me to shop at small businesses and give them my money. And I do — sometimes — if their products are good enough. But what happens when we give them money? They grow. They grow and grow and before you know it, they are all over your town, your state and your country. And now we hate them. Why?

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Because we hate success.

We long to watch the rags-to-riches stories unfold, but then we don't appreciate the success when it happens. We just sit around and wait for the next story to come along and topple the kings or queens of the mountain.

We've all enjoyed watching the Golden State Warriors evolve from the little team that could into the second coming of the 1990s Chicago Bulls. We're in the middle of that evolution right now, and it's fun to watch.

But pay attention: The Warriors aren't going anywhere. They're young, and they'll keep winning. When they do, we'll get sick of them, because that's what we do. We have lost the ability to admire sustained greatness and instead view it as unchecked power that keeps others from achieving the same.

This is the public perception battle that the Connecticut women's basketball team is going through right now. In a time when we should be celebrating their accomplishments and domination that has come on the back of building a program the right way, we have legitimate journalists asking if they are bad for the game. That makes no sense.

Anyone who dominates anything — sports or otherwise — should be considered the standard. They should be what everyone else strives to be. Without a dominant entity, you have a revolving door of front-runners, creating a culture that says "If we just keep at it and do what we've been doing, that will be us one day."

Thankfully, we have the UConn women's basketball team to squash that school of thought. They are here to show us what sustained success is supposed to look like. They are a reminder that you cannot just keep doing what you are doing. Sometimes you must change. At some point, you must try to emulate the success of others by looking at how those people, teams or companies became so successful and plugging your own passion and effort into that blueprint — or at the very least look at how you could tweak the blueprint to better suit you. If what you do only gets you close to the top, maybe you need to do more instead of asking how those at the top could do less.

The only bad thing about anyone or anything dominating a sport or industry is others in that sport or industry asking whether or not that domination is a bad thing. At that point, you are looking for ways to limit the future success anyone might have in a certain field, which in turn slows the evolution of sports, business and society as a whole.

Embrace and admire success. Don't look for ways to paint it as a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with what Geno Auriemma's Huskies are doing. If anything, it's an example of what happens when you do it right.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the owner of and host of "Raising the Bar" on Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.