Support for Women’s Athletics
Why do people care more about male athletes than female athletes?
By Madison Sciba
On Thursday January 26th, the female athletes at Saint Mary’s were invited to the Women’s basketball game against BYU to celebrate National Women in Sports day. This day was to celebrate the anniversary of the passing of Title IX, a historic piece of legislation from 1972 which states: “No person shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, be treated differently from another person, or otherwise be discriminated against in any interscholastic, intercollegiate, club or intramural athletics offered by a recipient, and no recipient shall provide such athletics separately on such basis.” (The United States Department of Justice).
At this particular Women’s basketball game, female athletes were given dinner catered by Chipotle and invited to the court during halftime for a group photo. No speeches, no real announcement, no discussion on the female athletes or sports, just a burrito bowl and a photo. The most ironic part of this was that the Women’s basketball team couldn’t even participate as they were in the locker room both when the food was available and when the group photo was taken.
This was not the first year that Saint Mary’s athletics had organized a night for celebrating National Women in Sports day, however, this year’s celebration was even more disappointing than last year’s. At least last year the female athletes were given t-shirts, and a video montage of them was played. However, last year’s was also during Jan Term break so the only people in attendance at the Women’s basketball game/Women in Sports night were the female athletes.
For both events, the only people invited to celebrate National Women in Sports day were the female athletes at Saint Mary’s. No men’s teams were invited and only a few showed up. So much for equality in sports. Don’t get me wrong, female athletes are grateful for the free dinner, but the whole night and celebration seems demeaning.
This brings up a question: Why is there so much more support for men's sports than women’s? Not just at SMC but everywhere it seems as though men’s sports are supported more by sports fans and the general public than women’s sports are. The NBA makes far more money than its counterpart the WNBA. This past fall’s men’s World Cup saw millions of soccer fans tune in to watch teams from all over the world compete in Qatar. That kind of support was not seen in 2019 for the women’s World Cup. US fans celebrated when the US men’s team made it past the group stage, but barely anyone was talking about when the women’s team won their 4th world cup title in 2019.
The 2022 FIFA men’s World Cup was one of the most anticipated and talked about events of 2022, but barely anyone is aware that the FIFA women’s World Cup will be taking place in just 4 months in Australia and New Zealand. It is not as though watching women’s soccer is less entertaining than watching men’s soccer, if anything it can be more entertaining as the female players don’t spend as much time rolling on the field hugging their shins and crying as the male players do.
If the sports themselves are almost the exact same, then why are they more popular when men play than women? Does our society’s history of misogyny play a role in this? In the history of professional sports and professional athletes, the emergence of female teams is a relatively new one. Hopefully as more and more women and girls are competing in athletics, viewership and support for them will increase.
If you are interested in statistics and further reading about women in sports I recommend checking out this infographic from the University of Ohio:
US Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/crt/title-ix#10.%C2%A0%20Athletics%20(%C3%AF%C2%BD%C2%A7%20__.450)
University of Ohio: https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/the-evolution-of-womens-sports/
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Ryan Ford '23,