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OU Softball: People Love to Hate Greatness

Oklahoma softball is in the midst of one of the greatest runs in sports history, winning 52 straight games and now just one win away from a third consecutive national championship.

The Sooners are on pace to finish with the nation’s top batting average, ERA, and fielding percentage, which has never been done before. A win on Thursday night would bring their 2023 record to 61-1, which would give them the best single-season winning percentage of all time.

Naturally, with that kind of success, the Sooners have plenty of people who love to hate them. Twitter and Facebook have become breeding grounds for new reasons why the Oklahoma softball team is annoying.

My email inbox is rife with messages from people who just can’t stand to watch Oklahoma win another game.

 

It’s not often that we see teams sustain success the way Patty Gasso’s Sooners have recently, but every time that they do, the opposers come out of the woodwork.

Think back to the run that the New England Patriots had with Tom Brady through the 2000s and 2010s. The modern-day Kansas City Chiefs. The Golden State Warriors a few years back. The Chicago Bulls in the 90s. The Alabama Crimson Tide under Nick Saban, Clemson Tigers under Dabo Swinney, or Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs.

All of them are championship-winning programs or franchises, and all of them have a slew of haters parading around every time they faltered.

The difference is, Oklahoma hasn’t faltered in 109 days. They’ve gone since mid-February without a loss, so now people have a problem with how they win. Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’ve seen or heard something in the last couple of days about how annoying OU’s celebrations are.

 

Patty Gasso tells her players “you must be unapologetic” for the way they play the game with energy and passion, even when it comes to something as small as a walk.

“Because women have worked so hard to get here yet still get judged for those things,” Gasso said. “That’s the way we play, and that’s what people enjoy. Or you don’t. You either like it or you don’t, but we’re not going to apologize for these players knowing the game and celebrating the right way.”

First-team All-American Alyssa Brito acknowledges the hate that she and her teammates receive for the way they play the game.

“I think we’ve seen so much on social media,” she said.

There certainly has been a ton of hate for the Sooners on social media as of late.

Fellow All-American Jayda Coleman sees it too, and calls out the double standard that exists when it comes to women celebrating in sports.

 

“I really don’t get it,” she said. “I feel like we are continuously — and softball itself — are just breaking barriers. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I feel like it’s just very disappointing to just see people just trying to tear us down in that type of way. Maybe not tearing us down, but just kind of making it into a negative light when you’re seeing the MLB players do the exact same thing or the NBA or NFL, throwing their helmets and having emotion. Like, why can’t we have emotion? We are in the same stakes as them. We are athletes just like them. Why can we not wear our emotions on their sleeves?

“It disappoints me on the double standard and how the male athletes slide with things and female athletes don’t, and hopefully that will change very soon.”

“What we do is to bring passion to our own circle, and it’s never against anyone else,” senior captain Grace Lyons says. “So, I just want to say that that’s not how we play. People may take it that way, but it’s all for our own joy and passion, never to tear down.”

My question is, why does it matter? So what if they celebrate drawing a walk? Clearly whatever they’re doing works, and by all accounts, they’re doing it the right way.

People love to hate greatness. It’s simply ingrained in some of them, and there’s not anything that anyone is going to do, or say, that will change the way they see things.

I find it impressive that the Sooners find a way to keep the excitement and joy for the game despite winning so much. At some point, one would think they’d get bored.

However, if you ask the players, their joy comes from somewhere else entirely: their faith.

Oklahoma is unashamed of who they are, and their celebrations and outbursts of joy in games are something that people are going to find fault in.

It’s human nature to pick things apart and find flaws when we don’t like something. It’s just what we do. However, I’m afraid that some people lose sight of just what’s happening here. If you are a softball fan, you’re witnessing excellence first-hand. Your daughter or granddaughter might ask you someday if you watched Patty Gasso coach or Jordy Bahl pitch during this reign.

From a historical standpoint, Oklahoma is doing something that nobody in softball has ever done and that’s just a fact.

You may not like them. You may not agree with them. But you’ve got to respect them.

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