No Fun Playing to an Empty Arena

Aaron William California

It’s true that going to sporting events are fun when there are tons of people watching. Personally, I enjoyed seeing the University of Idaho men’s basketball team play to the screaming of hundreds of fans in attendance. I love it when I watch a Philadelphia Union game on my tablet and see PPL Park filled with thousands of fans screaming for a victory. Both U of I men’s basketball and Major League Soccer are for male players only. Honestly, I’ve only attended a handful of U of I women’s basketball games and one women’s soccer match, yet I can report there is a major difference between men’s and women’s sports anywhere, and that difference is attendance.

U of I women’s basketball is notorious for having low attendance. Just imagine roughly two dozen people in the Memorial Gym and you will have a good idea of what it is like to attend a U of I women’s basketball game.

In all of the U of I women’s basketball games I’ve attended, never was the Memorial Gym filled to capacity. I have to say, when there are so few people at a game I have a hard time enjoying the match. The low attendance at the University of Idaho’s women’s basketball and women’s soccer games brings up an important topic: Why do women’s sports have such low attendance?

Why Some Watch Women’s Sports

When watching female sports with other men and women, it is common for me to hear comments regarding how attractive or unattractive the players are. Every time the Summer Olympic Games rolls around, many, but not all, men make a comment to the effect of “women’s volleyball is just more interesting to watch for whatever reason.” Let’s all be honest for just one moment. Has anybody ever watched the men’s Olympic volleyball games? I’ve never. Although I do not like the little clothing the players wear, because I think it degrades women, it is not hard for me to guess why some people only watch the women’s volleyball games. Is it attractiveness that makes or breaks attendance at women’s sporting events? I think the answer is yes.

Can you name a female player on any of the WNBA teams? Did you know there is a WNBA? Perhaps you can name some names. However, I think for most, no names come to mind. Who’s this man in the photo, without looking up his name?

sports 2

How about this woman in the photo?

Brandi Chastain

Do you know her name? It is Brandi Chastain. I had to look up her name, even though I remember her face and her taking off her jersey after scoring a game winning goal. Is it really all about whether fans find the women attractive or not? Does that answer why few attend the U of I women’s basketball and soccer games?

Why Attend Women’s Sports?

I go to U of I women’s soccer games because I love soccer, not just to see elegant women running around a green field. Yes, the women on the team are in fact eye-catching young women, let that be known. The women on the U of I women’s basketball team are just as beautiful and attractive as women like Brandi Chastain. When I go, my mind is focused entirely on the match itself. I pay attention to the plays, where the ball is going, and the game winning goals. When I watch a Philly Union game, played by only men, my mind is on the ball, the tackles, the red cards handed out, and the expressions of the players yelling at the referees for ejecting them from the game. When you watch men’s NBA or NFL games, what is your attention on?

Whether I am watching an NFL or NBA game with men or women, their attention is on the touchdowns, slam dunks, and the controversial calls by the referees. Why should we watch women’s sports? For the same reasons we watch men’s sports– because they are interesting, the plays are dynamic, and we like to see our favorite teams win.

In 2012, the Women’s Professional Soccer league came to an end. Among the reasons for the WPS folding is “bad television ratings and attendance.” Is it that society is more obsessed with how woman look verses what they can do? Other than Brandi Chastain, does you know any other famous female sports players?

How Things Get Better for Women’s Sports Attendance

The solution to improving attendance at women’s sporting events is easy; treat women with the same respect we give to male athletes. Focus instead on how women move the soccer ball or shoot a ball into the basket. Relish women’s championship games the way we do the Super Bowl or the World Series. Do you know who won the most recent Super Bowl? How many know that the University of Idaho women’s basketball team won the 2013 WAC championship title?


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