Sports fans are three times more likely to show up to a men’s basketball game than a women’s, according to reported NCAA attendance totals. That is the norm, and that needs to change.
Across the country there are collegiate female athletes who are used to seeing empty bleacher seats at their home games. They all work just as hard, if not harder, in the classroom and on the field. They deserve the same fan support as men’s sports, plain and simple.
There are four easily comparable sports to look at this problem: Basketball, baseball/softball, soccer and hockey. The disparities in attendance numbers are staggering.
Basketball is the second most popular NCAA Division I sport in terms of attendance. In total there was 35,635,495 attendees between the 700 basketball programs nationwide, including both men’s and women’s. Of that number, however, just over 24 percent of that total is attributed to women’s games.
There is not a single top-30 team in the country in men’s basketball that averages less than 11,000. There were no women’s basketball teams to average that much last season. South Carolina drew the most with 10,406 per game. Only 17 women’s basketball teams even averaged more than 5,000 fans per game, including the UConn women’s team, which averages 8,870 ticket holders per night.
The top 50 baseball teams in the country all draw 1,500 fans or more, including juggernauts LSU, Ole Miss and Arkansas all averaging more than 8,000 a game.
Of the top-55 softball programs, on the other hand, only the top-10 draw more than 1,500 fans per game. Only 20 softball teams in the country garner more than 1,000 per game. Of those three titans in the NCAA baseball world, only LSU softball draws more than the 50th ranked baseball team, West Virginia, as they bring in 1,529 to West Virginia’s 1,526.
UConn men’s soccer draws the most fans of any program in the country, averaging 3,213 spectators for the last season at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium. Despite playing on the exact same field, the women’s team drew just 866 fans a game, or nearly four times less.
This is partly due to the success and failures each program experienced last season. Women’s soccer struggled to the worst season in program history, going just 4-14, while the men’s team went 12-6-2 en route to an NCAA tournament berth.
The most glaring difference rests on the ice, where the UConn men’s hockey team secured 18 times more fans than their female counterparts. This is just ridiculous. While they played at different venues with different capacities, as the men’s team plays in Hartford at the XL Center and the women’s is relegated to the Mark E. Freitas Center, that is no excuse.
In the one game the women’s team was allowed to play at the XL Center, they drew just 372 supporters. The capacity of the XL Center is listed as 15,635 for ice hockey games. For the math folk out there, that is a miniscule 2.4 percent of the total seats available. The game was free to attend, and the team’s social media even advertised free tickets for the men’s game later that day. The men’s game held just four hours later drew 8,211 fans, or 22 times more than the game held in the exact same facility.
Is it just ingrained in our society after years of repression? Maybe. That does not mean it cannot change. People to show up and treat sports equally, no matter what gender the players are. Trust me, it’s worth it once you give it a shot.
This is a problem and in the words of New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, fans we need to “tighten this s*** up” right now. Period.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.