In light of this week’s special sports insert, I want to focus on a topic that has come up fairly often this fall: attendance at women’s soccer games versus men’s.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not play or understand sports very well, so I am no expert on the situation, but I live with three soccer players, who do, in fact, tell me how much they appreciate a full set of bleachers. I think this discussion is an important one to continue, not just for the women’s team, but for our campus community as a whole.
First of all, attendance at women’s home games did seem to pick up this year, and this fall the women’s team gained a vigorous cheering section for the first time thanks to some supportive students. The crowd did not equal that of men’s games, but there were more supporters than I had seen in past years.
But it’s hard to pinpoint the reasons why this game inequality has always been an issue. Perhaps it has something to do with simple tradition: students have always made men’s games a massive event and it makes sense that people flock to what they know will be a crowd full of vuvuzelas and friends.
But doesn’t the women’s team deserve just as much of a ruckus?
Since my freshman year, when I somehow made many of my close friends within the soccer circle, I’ve noticed how often the benches are sparse when the women play on their own turf.
At a recent GWSA meeting, some women discussed possible solutions to balancing the scales, so to speak. One suggestion was to change game times. Most men’s game are held at 7 or 8 p.m., while women’s games are typically at a 5 p.m. slot, especially if there is a men’s game as well. If there was an equal distribution of games that were at 5 p.m. between the two teams, not just exclusively women, it would provide better opportunity for students to attend women’s games as well.
The women’s game ended their season with a 4-1 win against Trine University last Tuesday; crowds will be absent from the bleachers until next soccer season.
But students have started to get the ball rolling about this issue. Let’s talk.