Sexism in the Student Section?

Behind the scenes answers to why more students show up to watch boys basketball versus girls.

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Sexism in the Student Section?

“There's more funding for boys. There’s way more gear made for boys. I guess people in  general are just conditioned to go to the boys games,”  Sophomore Alyssa Moore said.

“There's more funding for boys. There’s way more gear made for boys. I guess people in general are just conditioned to go to the boys games,” Sophomore Alyssa Moore said.

Caché Goracke

“There's more funding for boys. There’s way more gear made for boys. I guess people in general are just conditioned to go to the boys games,” Sophomore Alyssa Moore said.

Caché Goracke

Caché Goracke

“There's more funding for boys. There’s way more gear made for boys. I guess people in general are just conditioned to go to the boys games,” Sophomore Alyssa Moore said.

By Cache Goracke, Olathe West High School

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In 1972, Title IX was established in schools to make certain that girls sports would receive the same government funding as boys. According to www.womensfoundation.org before Title IX, one in 27 girls played sports. Today that number is two in five. While that is a drastic and positive change in norms since the 70s, equality in high school sports between girls and boys has not entirely been grasped.

It’s an obvious observation at any Olathe West basketball game that a significantly larger number of fans show up to the boys Varsity game than the girls. Not only do more people show up, but more people dress up, cheer, and become engaged. Popular belief is that the boys game is more intense due to athletic ability, intensity, strength, and speed.

Scott Aldrich, former girls basketball coach at Shawnee Mission West high school, and current freshman boys coach at Olathe West, was able to weigh in on both sides of the spectrum.

“I think the athleticism in a guys game is on average greater than in a girls game,” Aldrich said. “I don’t necessarily say its better. I think girls execute the game very well. However, do they dunk or play above the rim? No.”

Allysa Moore, a sophomore on girls Varsity, recognizes a different reason for lower attendance. Her view is that if West’s girls team had a better record, they would most definitely start seeing more fans. Olathe West’s boys team is doing better numbers-wise this year, and for this reason Moore says it’s completely understandable more people go to the guys games.

“Nobody wants to see their home team lose,” Moore said.

However, when asked if a better record would bring in an equal crowd to the boys game, she wasn’t confident in an answer. More people tend to go to guys games regardless.

“There’s more funding for boys. There’s way more gear made for boys. I guess people in general are just conditioned to go to the boys games.”

Many other students said things along these lines as well. Girls head Varsity coach Kristine Williams on the other hand, argued in response to Aldrich that the girls games are equally as fast paced and fun to watch.

“I think it’s something that’s been ingrained in society,” Williams said. “If you go to the NBA game it’s going to be sold out, and if you go to the WNBA game there’s just not as many people,”

Her reason for people not showing up was slightly different than the typical “Guys are more fun to watch” argument.

“I think that’s just a historical norm that hopefully we can break through,” Williams said. “It goes back to, in my mind, even voting. Women didn’t have the right to vote at one point in time. We had to have Title IX set in place to help us even be able to participate in sports equally. I think it’s just kind of an evolution of sports. A slow change that’s happening in a positive direction for women.”

I think it’s just kind of an evolution of sports. A slow change that’s happening in a positive direction for women.”

— Kristine Williams

Williams believes this inequality will change over time when people start going to womens and girls games and realizing how much fun they really are to be a part of.

Much of the support the girls get at their games are from students who show up early to watch the guys game.

“There’s a quote, and I think this is true, although I wish it were not, is that if the girls played at 7 and the boys played at 5:30, would you rather have a whole bunch of fans show up for the last quarter of your game or leave in the fourth quarter?” Aldrich said.

Girls varsity games start at 5:30 p.m., while the boys start at 7 p.m. If one was to attend the fullness of the girls game and then go onto watch the entire boys game, they could be there until 9:30 or later. Accordingly, students choose to only go to one game rather than standing in the bleachers for five hours. And when they have to choose one or the other, it’s the guys game, being deemed more thrilling by popular belief, is first choice.

“I feel the time commitment for being there back-to-back games is a little much for students,” Aldrich said.

Sophomore Grant Brown also said he believes a contributing reason as to why this issue may be hard to change is that because more people go to the guys game, other people will chose to go to the guys game also to see their friends there. Basically, he points out that if no one you know will be at the girls game, why go?

Brown plays in a voluntary pep band and attends both the girls Varsity and boys Varsity games almost every time. Because of this, he gets to see the unfailing major difference in the student section every game. He recalls one particular game where only two people were in the student section for almost the whole girls game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter more students started to show up. By the time the boys game began, there were 30 to 40 people.

“It’s really sad to see not as many people getting involved in girls sports,” Brown said.

Regardless of these things, Coach Williams remains hopeful after a night of playing Olathe West’s rivals, Olathe Northwest, where she said there were almost equally as large crowds for both games.

“I think it’s times like that when people start getting here earlier than they normally do and start enjoying the girls game and kind of get bought into it, we’ll definitely start seeing more support,” Williams said.

This story was originally published on Owl Post on March 18, 2019.