Fan Interest Levels: Girls vs. Boys
By Lily Noe
It is an ignored fact that more people attend the boys varsity basketball games than the girls. But it is a fact, so what is the reason for this discrepancy?
While both the girls and boys manage to fill up the bleachers, it is much harder to find a place to stand and even harder to find a place to sit at the boys games.
Charmaine Steele Jordan, head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, is not dependent on the crowd and believes her players are not either.
Coach Jordan stated, “I don’t believe it weighs heavily on us, we play hard no matter who is at our games, big or small crowds.”
While the size of the crowd may not affect the players, it is interesting to see why many students attend the boy’s games, home or away.
Ryan Dolinsky, a senior at Stoughton High, attends nearly all boys varsity games.
When asked why he drives a longer distance for the boys he said, “A lot of my good friends are on the team and I like to see them play, especially because it’s our senior year.”
A big crowd is undoubtedly a reassuring factor for the players, but a big audience can also be a distraction.There is much less pressure when there is a small crowd and fewer opportunities for distractions.
Valerie Whalen, junior captain of the girls basketball team, has the same mentality as Coach Steele.
Whalen stated, “Personally, the amount of people that come to our games doesn’t change how I will play on the court and the people who come to our games are the people who care about us the most and that is what is important.”
Surprisingly, this trend follows players all the way through college and into the professional level. The attendance rates are consistently lower at women's sports.
“As you get higher up into sports, a program’s success is based on their wins and how successful the schools market the sport,” said Coach Jordan. “UCONN women’s basketball is a perfect example of this; they win and their fans follow. The university does a nice job marketing and drawing students to games.”
While advertising is one solution, Dolinsky thinks time is the real cause.
Dolinsky says, “Women’s sports haven’t been around as long as men’s sports, so of course the men are going to have a bigger fan base.”
Whalen believes that students, especially, think girl’s games are not as exciting.
“People just don’t give us a chance,” stated Whalen. “They believe that girls games are less interesting but [if they watched us] they would see that we’re just as entertaining and talented.”
On Friday January 7, 2017, an infrequent “double-header” took place with both varsity girls and boys basketball vs. Milford. Per tradition, the girls play first.
The reasoning behind this order is that it gives the girls a chance to play in front of a larger crowd as the boys game gets closer said Coach Jordan.
This was the fact for last Friday’s game. Though the stands were patchy at the start of the girl’s game, the crowd began to fill in by half-time. When the boys started at 6:30 p.m. the stands were full and people actually had to sit on stairs.
The question remains, if the order was reversed, with boys playing first and girls playing second, would the filling in of the stands also happen in reverse?
Though it may seem a little like sexism, sexism does not seem to be the reason more people watch the boys play. It is rooted in tradition and also in advertisement. When people start to see women's teams winning, then they tend to follow. At that point, becomes about pride for your team whether it's for the girls or boys.