Pat Summitt Was So Beloved Even The Internet Was Nice To Her

The legendary basketball coach passed away today at age 64

“Legendary coach Pat Summitt” is how a lot of articles are starting today as people rush to praise the legacy and mourn the passing of famed University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, who succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 64.

The superlatives are endless, and justified. Summit has more wins than any other coach in the history of Division I athletics, with 1,039 victories. The NCAA didn’t recognize women’s basketball as an official sport until eight years after she got her coaching job, but once that changed she turned Tennessee into the premiere women’s program in the country.

Summitt brought home eight national titles with the Lady Vols, with at least two championships in three consecutive decades. The first came in 1987 and the last in 2008. Every student who played under Summit over the course of her 38-year tenure as head coach graduated, and nearly half of them have gone on to become coaches themselves. She once dislocated her shoulder and tried for several hours to reset it herself before finally calling a doctor. She did not accept the word “can’t.”

Summit won a silver medal as a member of Team USA’s women’s basketball team, which she eventually went on to coach, and during the speech for her enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, Summitt remarked that there had never been an Olympic women’s roster without a Lady Vol in the lineup. Sixteen years and four Olympic Games later, that is still true today.

So much has been said about Summitt over the years, and she spoke for herself across three books written in conjunction with her biographer, Sally Jenkins. So in pouring over old interviews on YouTube, trying to dig up something distinct, it was hard to find un-trodden ground. But there was one thing: Across more than a dozen videos, most with thousands of views and some with tens of thousands of views, there were almost no down-votes or negative comments on videos featuring the coach.

This is a lady. On the internet. A feminist lady who elevated women’s college basketball to heights previously untouched, and she still managed to be universally beloved in the human bog of eternal stench that is a comments section. She was once approached by Tennessee higher ups about the possibility of advancing to coach the men’s team, and Summitt’s reply to the offer has since become legend: “Why is that considered a step up?”

The coach with the most wins in history at the highest level of college sports spent her life supporting and shaping and training the women in her charge to win, to want it more, and to work harder than anyone else. This of course can be applied on the court, but it was also meant to be extended to life—especially for women, who often have to work harder than their male counterparts for the same amount of recognition. Summit once said, also famously, “You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.”

For a woman who fell in love with a sport that belonged to men, her determination was all she had at times to overcome the obstacles in front of her. And through that determination and sheer will—and surely a helpful dose of talent—Summitt transcended gender identifiers to simply become Coach. And then she became one of the greatest coaches of all time.

Here’s how some of our most influential figures are processing Summitt’s passing around the web.

via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less