Students notice lack of support in women’s sports

Jackson Parks

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Art by Sadie Coalier

Students have noticed a difference in crowd size and support between men’s and women’s sports. 

Whether it be empty stands, sexist comments or a lack of support for women’s sports, there is a divide in support between men’s and women’s sports.

More than just student athletes have noticed the divide in support for men’s and women’s sports.

Senior Hannah Heimann, who has played volleyball for all four years of high school, has noticed a lack of support for women’s sports.

I definitely have seen the difference between the support and hype between men’s and women’s sports. As a female athlete, I have noticed the big lack of support throughout the years in comparison to men’s. Not as many students show interest in women’s sports as per their own opinions,” Heimann said.

Heimann continued, “The attendance has been weak for girls’ sports for years. There used to be a big support [for women’s sports], but it somehow has trickled off. Women’s sports do not have the same support as men’s, and that is really needed.”

Activities director Jerry Collins does agree that there is a difference in crowd support between men’s and women’s sports. However, an issue of crowd support is not an administrative problem, but it falls on students.

“As far as do people come to games differently, we would like them to. If you come to a game, it seemingly appears that there are more people at boys’ games than girls’ games, not always but typically. I don’t really have a good answer for why that is. There’s probably a lot of societal reasons or whatever may be the case. It’s obviously something that we’d like to see different, but I don’t know that it’s anything that we’re doing that’s not allowing that,” Collins said.

Efforts have been made in promotion to increase crowd support for women’s games by administration, such as T-shirts, donated tickets or even dance clinics.

“Promotionally, I don’t think there’s a difference. I mean, we have the same number of games. We try to run the games the same way, whether it’s soccer, track, basketball, whatever. I think administratively we make every effort to support them equally,” Collins said about any possible difference in promotion.

Collins continued, “We try to promote them, we have their games at the same time. We try to do promotional things, like they both usually have elementary days for basketball for example. We try to find ways for more people to come to their games. We have some games together, having the dance clinic at a girls game, and at that girls’ game there were a lot of people. It was one of the biggest crowds of the year for a girls’ game because we did that extra event with it. There are ways we can help encourage that and promote the attendance of the girls’ games.”

More than just student athletes have noticed the divide in support for men’s and women’s sports.

Senior cheerleader Lillie Torbit has noticed a divide in support through cheering at games.

“I can personally see the divide in support by just attendance at games. When I cheer for a girls’ basketball game, there won’t even be a student section. Last Saturday on the 5th, it was apparent with the double headers. There was clearly more support in the student section and stands for the boys’ game which happened after the girls’ game,” Torbit said.

Varsity cheerleaders are required to go to all Varsity basketball games.

Like other students, Torbit has overheard sexist remarks or excuses against women’s’ sports.

“They [female athletes] are putting in the effort too, and it’s not being recognized because ‘it’s not entertaining’ or ‘the girls don’t get thrown around as much as the boys.’ These are all excuses I’ve heard as to why people don’t want to show up, and I’ve heard way more than just these two,” Torbit explained.

Women’s’ Varsity basketball captain Ellie Paloucek has seen a divide firsthand.

“I think there is a divide in women’s and men’s sports, even in high school. For example, the boys keep track of all their wins on a big sign in Roberts Gym, and girls’ basketball has nothing like that. Also, the boys have a contract with Nike, and the girls benefit from that too, but we get less apparel (shoes) than the boys’ team does,” Paloucek said.

There is no concrete difference in budget between men’s and women’s sports teams. Rather, budgets are determined by a need basis from year to year. Some years things such as uniforms, balls or other equipment may be added to a team’s budget. There is no enforced divide in budget between men’s and women’s teams.

Paloucek noted the lack of crowd support at women’s’ basketball games.

“Our student sections are barely a thing at girls’ games, unless the boys have a game after us,” Paloucek added.

Senior Chloe Hagemann, who is a Varsity swimmer, said, “There is no doubt that there is a divide between attendance at men’s versus women’s sport events. I think that it is completely ridiculous that people disregard women’s sports, when the girls’ teams are often just as good, if not better than the men’s teams, no offense.”

Hagemann mentioned specifics she’s seen in lack of support for women’s sports at WGHS.

“I mean, people only really came to one girls’ volleyball game. I heard basically nothing about girls’ tennis until they did so well at districts and made it to State. The girls’ golf and swim teams also had amazing seasons, making it to State and having some amazing performances that didn’t get nearly as much attendance as, say, the football team or boys’ soccer,” Hagemann said.

“The girls’ basketball team only started to get attention when they got into the bigger games and tournaments, and even then there is double the amount of spectators at the boys’ games,” Hagemann said. “I think the school can do a better job of promoting women’s sports, and the students need to step up and realize that they should be supporting everyone whenever they can.”

Senior Varsity cheer captain Gigi Tetley has noticed a lack of support for women’s sports through cheerleading, similar to Torbit.

“I’ve especially noticed it [lack of support for women’s sports] through basketball games and playing lacrosse. I see that not a lot of people come to the women’s games, even though they are just as entertaining or even more entertaining to watch. I don’t think that men’s sports should get any more or less attention, but I think that they should be equal because they are both just as fun to watch and play,” Tetley said.

Senior Margot Siener, who plays Varsity swim and lacrosse, said, “I think there is a major divide between men’s and women’s sports. I think there has always been a fight for more equality within sports, and when it comes to support women definitely have less. This is evident in all of society but essentially at Webster. For example, when boys’ basketball is often close to sold out and the girls are not near that.”

“I think it is unfair that not as many people support women’s sports. Many fans are unaware of the talent Webster’s girls teams have. It is hard performing to your best when you know your school is not there to support you,” Siener said.

Senior Varsity basketball player Sophia Nittinger has played all four years of high school.

“Since both the boys team and the girls’ team are both good, you would expect similar amounts of people at games. With COVID protocols lifted, a regular season home girls’ game mostly has parents in attendance. Meanwhile for boys, there are always outside supporters and a student section at boys’ games. I do understand men’s sports are more widely watched and appreciated and bring in more money like NFL and NBA corporations, but at the high school level, basketball at Webster, girls are lucky to have students in attendance,” Nittinger said.

“Over four years on Varsity, I’ve seen the difference in attendance between girls basketball games and boys. I think with the girls’ team success in the past year we should have more people at our games,” Nittinger said.

See also: Poll: Do you think there’s a lack of support for women’s sports at WGHS?

Jackson Parks – Editor-in-Chief

This will be Jackson Parks’ second year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year. He served as Junior Editor his first year on staff.

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One thought on “Students notice lack of support in women’s sports

  1. Reading this almost 7 years after I wrote an opinion for the ECHO covering the exact same problem and seeing there haven’t been many improvements from the administration or student groups is a bit disheartening. It’s interesting that Jerry Collins thinks this isn’t an administrative issue but then acknowledges that they schedule the men’s and women’s games at the same time, naturally dividing the attention and exacerbating potential biases that fans have which may be contributing to the unequal attendance. Plus, I’m seeing the same uneven distribution of resources re: the Nike sponsorship as I did when I covered this topic (when I was at WGHS in 2016, there was a big poster campaign in the hallways with professionally shot photos of the men’s basketball team but nothing for the women’s). This stuff all starts at the top, and it’s ultimately up to the WGHS administrators to set the example and expectations of gender equality that they say they care about. Thanks for your work covering this, Jackson! Excellent piece.

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