Female Athletes Need Our Support

“There’s a game tonight!”

If someone were to say that to you, what would come to mind first? A women’s game? Or a men’s game?

I hate to admit it, but truthfully, I would assume that the reference was to a men’s team. As someone who is a female athlete and a feminist, knowing that I would make this assumption is infuriating, especially since I know that I wasn’t born thinking like this—society has programmed me to think like this.

According to Teen Vogue, until 1972, when Title IX was passed, collegiate women’s sports were virtually nonexistent, receiving almost no funding or support. Title IX is a federal civil rights statute that has since prevented educational institutes from spending federal money in a sex-discriminatory way, making major strides for female athletes. According the the Women’s Sports Foundation, in 1927, 1 in every 27 women were athletes. Today, closer to 2 in every 5 women are athletes, and the number of female college athletes as grown by about 500 percent. So is the imbalance of support for women’s teams versus men’s teams just the product of a history where women have had less support than men?

Although this is definitely part of the problem, history isn’t the only thing to blame. Despite the growing number of female athletes since Title IX, according to USC News, the media coverage of women’s sports has barely changed. And this is a major problem. Women’s National Basketball Association, Lynx player, Maya Moore states, “If we want to grow the women’s game, we’ve got to grow the visibility,” in her article for The Player Tribune . Without media coverage, little girls aren’t going to grow up watching women play sports, they’re just going to see men. It might not even occur to them that they could actually be the athletes, because they never see them playing sports. So not only does society not expect women to be athletes, but women don’t even expect themselves to be athletes. This is a detrimental impact of the lack of news media coverage, and one that could perpetuate the lack of support female athletes have.

Disparities between women’s versus men’s sports happens everywhere, and Bucknell’s campus is not exempt. As a dancer on Bucknell’s Bison Girls Dance Team, my team attends both women’s and men’s basketball games. The disparity in attendance is extremely disheartening, and one that always jars me when I attend the games. But I can do something about this, starting by attending more Bucknell’s women’s games. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching the men’s teams—I like those too! But making a more conscious effort to attend women’s games here on campus is a super easy way to start affecting change. I can also practice a more mindful way of thinking about sports, so that the next time someone talks about a game, I won’t jump to the conclusion that they’re referring to a men’s team. After all, with all of the #girlpower on Bucknell’s campus, that wouldn’t make much sense.