The push for gender equality in sports took center stage Saturday, as the new Global Mixed Gender Basketball League held an exhibition game at Howard University’s Burr Gymnasium.
The Washington Fusion defeated the Chicago Vikings 116-91, but the final score was almost secondary, as an excited crowd of approximately 2,000 saw revolutionary aspects of the game, including women and men playing on the court at the same time.
The first and third quarters started with three women and two men on the court while the second and fourth quarters began with three men and two women. Also, when the women shoot a shot that would normally be a three-point field goal, it counted for four points.
Many of the players were current or former college and pro players. Both teams were coached by former WNBA players, Nikki Teasley for the Fusion and Kym Hampton for the Vikings.
“I wanted to play for Nikki Teasley, that’s why I came out,” said Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, a graduate of T.C. Williams high school who currently plays for the Washington Mystics.
The Global Mixed Gender Basketball League looks to have eight teams in the league when it starts play either in the summer or the fall of this year.
Players participating in the game were very pleased with the concept of the league.
“Mixed-gender basketball and gender equality is what attracted me to the league,” said Brian Bridgeforth, who played his high school ball at Theodore Roosevelt and collegiately at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park. “Plus, I wanted to play at home.”
As for the game itself, the Fusion took control in the second quarter with a 25-9 run to extend the lead to 52-41 at halftime. Washington pulled away in the second half as Joe Posey and Ruffin-Pratt repeatedly hit three- and four-pointers to put the game out of reach.
Posey led the Fusion in scoring with 20 points while the Vikings’ Zach Marbury, younger brother of former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury, led all scorers with 24 points.