Column: Expanding the Women’s Basketball Fan Base

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In a hard battle, the Huskies fall to Cincinnati on February 3 at Gampel Pavilion 65-57. Jalen Adams led the team with 20 points. The Huskies are 4-6 in the AAC and their next game is on Wednesday. (Photo by Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

Living in Connecticut, it’s very easy to believe that all of women’s basketball revolves around UConn. The Huskies routinely dominate and head coach Geno Auriemma produces many of the best basketball players.

However, there is so much more to the world of women’s basketball outside of the UConn bubble. This is the first season in a while in which every team, no matter how good they may be, feels beatable. Even the very best teams have lost on a bad night and, because of this, the amount of quality competition has risen.

Unlike many other sports, women’s basketball fans tend to be fans of a particular team rather than the sport as a whole. This is probably for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that because women’s basketball is relatively younger than men’s basketball it hasn’t received nearly as much coverage or stats analysis as the men’s side. Because women’s basketball is relatively young, its fans tend to be people who support a team that is or has been dominant at some point. Very rarely do you meet someone who is a massive supporter of Stony Brook women’s basketball but you do meet tons of Stanford or Baylor fans. When fans latch onto teams rather than the sport as a whole, they tend to only watch the games’ that particular team plays. So once a player graduates and moves into a professional league such as the WNBA, the fan base that watched them rarely follows them into their professional career because they can just watch the new young talent coming into the collegiate team.

Women’s basketball cannot expand as a market until more games that showcase quality competition in the sport are publicized.

On Monday night for example, No. 12 Oregon State defeated No. 2 Oregon 67-62 at home. The defeat was part of a series known as the “Civil War” in which the rival schools play a home-and-home series. This season, both home arenas were sold out for the “Civil War” and Monday night’s game was broadcast on ESPN2. The game was scrappy and exciting to watch, yet few people outside of the women’s basketball sphere tuned to the channel.

Fans love rivalries and they love exciting games. Judging a sport by a few of its teams or misconceptions doesn’t help anybody because the skeptics are missing out on really great games and the fans are missing out on a larger community.


Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.

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