Even if you don't follow high school girls basketball, you've probably come across Brittney Griner. Videos of her dunking have shot across computer screens all across the country for more than a year, creating more headlines than most of the top boys players. She isn't the first female dunker, but she makes it look a helluva lot easier than most of her predecessors.
That quantum leap forward in woman's basketball won't be celebrated at the McDonald's All-America Game on April 1st, however. Griner's school, Nimitz High in Houston, won't clear her to miss classes for the trip to Miami. That makes her the first girl selected for the game who won't play, Tracy McGrady is the only boy in that group. Griner won't have a national coming out party until she starts playing for Baylor next season.
It's an odd case. The first thought is that it is a bit refreshing to see a school that puts some stock in the first part of the usually oxymoronish word student-athlete. But Griner's parents don't have a problem with her missing school, and she's being honored for being a spectacular success. Presumably there are mechanisms in place that allow Nimitz students to catch up on work they miss because of illness, why not just treat Griner's absence as you would a student who had the flu?
The McDonald's game isn't totally without blame here, either. They demand a five-day commitment from players, which seems like a lot more than is necessary. With the game falling on a Wednesday that seems like an awful lot of school to miss for events that benefit a mammoth corporation.
And, as Full Court points out, Griner's got a larger than average stake in the game. She has her own media consultant, which is a sign that there is more than meets the eye to everything that's going on in the building of the next great superstar of the woman's game.
That's a lot of competing interests, and none of them seem to be keeping in mind that this is just a kid who likes to play basketball.