Bill James, Joe Posnanski and Bob Costas (above) were amongst the participants in a Washington University symposium entitled, “The Future Of Sports” yesterday in St. Louis. South Side Sox’s e-gus was amongst those in attendance, and we’ll pick up his coverage of the event with the esteemed panel tackling the question of whether or not women’s sports could ever achieve mainstream popularity in the U.S. to rival that of men’s hoops, baseball or football.

Bob Costas said his short answer was ‘No.’ but went on for about 15 minutes anyway, explaining the virtues of Title IX. I was a little worried about this going in, the Costas factor.

Costas went on to say that they shouldn’t try and reach the ratings and attendance, but change their definition of success. Bill James said he couldn’t be more wrong and blamed mismanagement of the WNBA for its failures. I didnt think I would end up on Costas’ side of the ledger vs James on anything that night but here we were. James said woman’s volleyball was a fine sport (and the only that didn’t require cheerleaders), and that it only takes about 40 years to get a loyal following so yes, of course woman’s sports could reach elite status. I’m not so sure. Posnanski cited the popularity of Poker and sort of backed up James using it’s meteoric rise as an example. Posnanski imagined the pitch meeting to ESPN and couldn’t believe it worked, then Costas went off:

“We’ll call it superstars (air quotes) of poker, and people will tune in thinking they’ll see the Cincinnati Kid, or Bart Maverick, instead- they see some clammy degenerate in a Members Only jacket trying to see if he can get the card he needs to get a straight- What kind of get a life loser, unless the remote was broken- in that case you should flee the house instead, would watch two seconds of this?”

Poker enthusiasts might be (in Bob’s pithy words) “get-a-life losers”, but I bet Norman Chad could host the Summer Olympics without sitting on two telephone books.