A Girls Perspective: Breaking into the Boys Club

Caroline will be writing a weekly article about college hoops from a female perspective.  This the first of her yet-to-be-named column.

Fantasy basketball is big, everyone knows that, but college basketball?  For a girl?

In the fall of 1996, “The College Basketball Fantasy League” (CBFL) started with a lot of time spent in public computer labs in the college towns of Lawrence, Kansas and Iowa City.  Iowa. The internet was just getting going, Netscape was still the world’s most popular browser and everyone still knew the lyrics to ‘Ice, Ice, baby”.  Yeah, that 1996.

I was the avid hoops junkie, and I was (and still am) female.  Yes, this avid Iowa hoops girl was a part of establishing what must be one of the longest running college hoops fantasy leagues in the world.    We were driven by our passion for college basketball and a need for something more than NFL and NBA fantasy leagues.

Starting a fantasy league is exactly like the process of a player choosing a school.   There was a solid core of guys who were friends on campus and they began drafting league members based on their perceived ‘love for hoops’ and ‘fantasy up-side’.  Notice the key word was guys.  They weren’t looking for a girl to be involved.  I wasn’t ranked in the rivals Top 10 or the Top 100 for that matter when it came to fantasy leagues.  While I had as much as, or more, knowledge than they did I was an after thought.  In fact, I was like the last kid chosen on the playground.  Being that kid brings motivation, and this girl was out to prove them wrong.

This was actually the founder’s first go at starting a league as well.  So while I was the first girl, this was also a new idea run by people who were immersed in the game.

Filling the league with owners began with looking for potential members on the internet.  It was an awesome way to spend Friday and Saturday nights in college. Members were gained on ISCA. (A free computer chat service by the University of Iowa.)  Then there was stalking, I mean,  politely suggesting for fellow chatters to check out the league as we argued the night away on Espn.com‘s now-defunct chat boards.  Of course, we also hit any websites that would allow free advertising for a free league by message blasting.

After getting enough members for the start of a season we were well on our way.  The beginning of the CBFL was in a notebook; good old pen and paper.  No Yahoo!  Sports, no Fantrax, just a spiral notebook.  Statistics were gathered by internet research (or even newspapers, they were still current back then). Some box scores took days to post, or find.  My, have times changed!  We can watch the box score accumulate in any number of ways now.

Looking back, this league was way ahead of its time.  Now, after just doing a basic search online, there are multiple options for leagues. (And all the stats are collected automatically, what a concept!)

Although I’ve not been a part of the group the whole time, I was involved heavily during the inception and for several years until I moved away from Iowa City in 2003.   Within the last couple of years I have become involved again.

In fact, I made those boys pay for picking me last.   I was in the top 3 of the league for years and even runner up one year!  (It still haunts me that I didn’t start point guard Kareem Reid of Arkansas. He was too inconsistent.  Had I started him, I would have won.  I lost by seven points).  But, I’ve gained respect and am looking ahead to new challenges.

Each year some of the 18 members come and go, but the core of the group remains.  This year is the 16th season.  Which for a league that started on notebook paper is quite an achievement.  We have gotten with the times. We play on Fantrax now and our stats are accumulated automatically, but the thrill and passion is still the same… and this girl is still a force to be reckoned with on the fantasy hardwood.