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IQ: The playing field 

Let's hear it for the sporting kind. It wasn't very long ago that "women's sports" essentially meant figure skating, tennis and volleyball, with a brief flare-up of interest each Olympic year in gymnastics, swimming and track. That meant guys got the rest of the games -- the "manly" pursuits like wrestling, hockey, basketball, baseball and javelin. Those days have faded fast.

click to enlarge Marvin Brown
  • Marvin Brown

Marvin Brown
South Side
Professional reggae musician

Why do people care about sports on such an emotional, visceral level? It gives them something to cheer for. It offers a feeling of belonging, of tribe.

What women's sport do you like best? Basketball. I watch it with my mom, who was a power forward in high school back in North Carolina. She watches women's basketball with as much ferocity as she does men's basketball. Watching basketball with mom is an intense experience.

Who's your favorite female athlete? Marion Jones. She's tenacious. She works hard. She has demeanor. I also like the cool of the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. Then again, I'm a big fan of my daughter, who plays volleyball and gymnastics for Wasson High School. I go to all her games.

click to enlarge Jennifer Sullivan
  • Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer Sullivan
Old North End
Lawyer

What's your favorite women's sport? Tennis, because I used to play, and it's a sport with bona fide heroines.

What's your favorite women's team? The 1998-99 women's basketball team at Duke, where I went to college. The men's team always had the spotlight and got all the press, but that year the women began winning, too, and made it as far into the NCAA tournament as the men. Also, the USA soccer team when they won the World Cup. That got lots of young girls excited about sports. Brandi Chastaine ripping her shirt off was awesome.

Who is your favorite woman athlete? Karen Smyers, the triathelete. She had to overcome several serious injuries and a bout with cancer, but she kept coming back. She's older now, with a kid or two, but she was amazing in her prime.

click to enlarge Gary Nussbaum
  • Gary Nussbaum

Gary Nussbaum

Radford, VA
Professor, Radford University

Have you ever attended a women's sporting event? I've attended the NCAA finals in women's volleyball and soccer, and I follow women's college basketball pretty closely on TV. I also watch my niece play lacrosse for Davidson College as often as I can.

What's your favorite moment in women's sports? Probably the time the first woman tried to run in the Boston Marathon back in the early '70s when only men were allowed. The director grabbed her by the arm and tried to pull her out of the race, but the other runners pulled her back in and kept the director away from her. Also, Joan Benoit winning the 1984 Olympic marathon, leading from start to finish in spite of knee surgery three weeks earlier.

Should women athletes be better paid? The money pros get paid is obscene. I'd put a ceiling on all pro sports salaries and have women make those salaries, too.

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