By Alex King
(Webster Groves MO) The Webster University basketball teams have played their final games of the regular season. The Freshman Council, a group of freshmen who organize events for the freshman class, sponsored spirit week for the final men’s home game. But in the process, the women’s team wasn’t shown the same support as the men.
There is no doubt that men’s sports are typically given more support than women’s sports. This largely comes from a stigma that the men are better and their games are more exciting.
Early last week I was invited to attend Webster Spirit Week on Facebook. I was originally excited because I love seeing the campus embracing the basketball teams, especially at such a crucial point in the season. When I read the event description, I noticed it only mentioned the “boy’s game.”
This upset me, but I had hoped it was a mistake. Then, I noticed the flyers around campus that said the game was at three, even though the women played at one. That’s when I knew it wasn’t a mistake. It was great to see the Freshman Council promoting school spirit, but in the process, the women’s basketball team was shown a lack of support and respect.
I spoke with some women’s basketball players, and their opinions echoed this belief; they are as good as the men’s team, but no one knows it because no one cares. The women cite the fact that they were better than the men last year, but still the men still got more hype. Last season, the women went 17-9 and the men went 13-13. This season the teams are more equal, with each team finishing the regular season with winning records. While both teams have done well the last two seasons, the men have averaged almost 80 more fans per game. That makes a huge difference in a gym the size of Grant Gymnasium.
I’ve attended almost every home game for both the women and men the last two years, and I’ve seen a lot of great games from both teams. The women have played some of the most exciting games I have seen. Seeing so many games has helped me notice two trends.
The first trend is that the crowds for the women’s games are not only smaller, but also less engaged. The fans are vastly quieter and less excited for the women. The same crowd often becomes raucous for the men.
The second trend I have noticed is that hardly anyone seems to talk about the women, no matter how well they do. The men get talked about even if they lose. Their game against Illinois Wesleyan earlier this year is a perfect example of this. The men’s team’s comeback came up short, and they lost by four. After the game, I talked to a great number of people who were impressed by how awesome it was that the men almost came back and won. On the flip side, I didn’t hear anyone talking about the women after their three-point win against Spalding.
Now, I’m not trying to take anything away from the men. They have had a great season and deserve all the support they get. But I am saying that if the campus wants true school spirit, it needs to support both teams.
I love the fact that Grant Gymnasium has started to become a home court advantage for the men’s basketball team thanks to the fans. But the women deserve the same support. The women have really become a force to be reckoned with in the SLIAC. It’s time we show them the support and respect they deserve.
Alex King is the Sports Director for The Galaxy. You can read his bi-weekly sports column in “The Journal.” You can get a copy of “The Journal” around Webster’s main campus or by going online to www.webujournal.com.