Sports

The Crowd Gap: Girls and Boys Sports at Thacher

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Empty stands at girls’ varsity basketball game. Photo by Dana Vancisin

December 3, 2016, was a busy day for a large portion of the Thacher community. There were three soccer games, as well as three back-to-back basketball games.  With big wins for most of the games, it was a joyous occasion, with huge crowds turning up for the varsity boys’ game

Two days laters, tri-varsity captain, Jordan Perry ‘17, made an assembly announcement that brought light to an unspoken truth. Significantly more people in the Thacher community attend male sports than female sports. Are male sports valued over female sports? Does Thacher create an environment where this pattern is acceptable? And most importantly, how can we break this repeated behavior?

Before winter break, I sent out a survey to get the opinion of the Thacher community. 35.9% of Thacher students regularly attend female sport compared to the 57.8% of students that regularly attend male sports. Some students don’t attend female and male sports for the simple fact that they “dislike sports.”

Others feel that People go to [boys] games because we are really good at sports. Lastly, when asked if Thacher created a space where male sports were appreciated more than female sports, 58.8% said yes. This statistic made me wonder how exactly Thacher created this space.

One student argued that “In some cases, male sports are valued more than female sports in each season. For instance, boys’ football is much more popular than girls’ tennis. In the winter, basketball tends to have more attendance than soccer, regardless of gender, but yes, boys’ basketball tends to get more spectators than girls’. As for the spring, the same problem applies to lacrosse, and boys’ tennis also has low enthusiasm surrounding it. I think this issue of gender preferences in sports watching at Thacher could be helped if both teams were always given equally available time slots for games, but this would be hard because Thacher is just one school in the league.”

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Full stands at a boys’ varsity game. Photo by Dana Vancisin

 

As a female athlete, Faith Earley ‘17 thinks that “understands why crowds are more drawn to men’s’ sports. Their sports tend to be more aggressive and at an overall faster pace. As a female athlete, I am aware of this but I am still weary of the fact that our home bleachers are left empty more often than not. I wouldn’t label the decision to not attend women’s sports as inherently sexist. But, because the facts are in favor of men’s sports, I would hope and strongly encourage the Thacher community to show the girls some love too. They might find our games to be a pleasant surprise. Thacher is small enough for this effort (even just 10 minutes of one’s time) to be impactful.”

When asked how we should fix the problem, Jordan Perry replied, “I believe that attendance of girls’ game is a self-perpetuating cycle. People go to boys’ sports games because there are lots of people there, and it creates an exciting atmosphere that is basically a social event. There are fewer people at girls’ games, which leads people to believe they are less fun. I think that attendance at girls’ games can be improved by people talking about girls’ games with as much excitement as they talk about the boys’ games. It takes 15 minutes to attend a part of girls’ games, and with more people attending, more and more people will gravitate to where their friends are.”

Categories: Sports

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