Allow me to describe a typical evening watching Hesston College women’s basketball:
Looking up into the stands, I sigh. There are five more minutes of warm-ups, but I know that no one is going to show up, save the parents that are already here and a handful of girls from my supportive mod. The rest of the student body may eventually trickle in, only to hear the final whistle sound, conveniently missing the entire game.
Unfortunately, this situation is all too common for female athletes here at Hesston College. I find this lack of attention for women’s sports demeaning, not to mention pathetic. Yes, we attend all of the home volleyball games. But look around at the empty concrete slabs at the women’s soccer field, metal bleachers at the softball diamond, and wooden benches at the basketball court.
Oh wait. You would have to be there.
Before you make the argument that women’s sports are boring to watch, I ask that you take a second to see things from our perspective.
Sure, you might go to the games, but you aren’t willing to stand. You aren’t willing to pay attention. You just sit there, on your phone or chatting away, oblivious to the game that is taking place in front of you. And you don’t even understand the effect that has.
Picture this: It’s the first home game of the season, front row at the women’s basketball game. There are plenty of people seated behind me, but only the first and second rows stood up and cheered. Despite my best efforts to get people excited and get them standing, people just mumbled, “Why are we standing? It’s the girl’s game.” I called them out, but they responded that they “needed to save their energy for the guy’s game.”
Fast forward about an hour to the start of the men’s game. One person walked in, ready to cheer, and everyone who had been there for the women’s game stood up behind him. In a matter of seconds this kid was able to do what I had been trying to do for the entirety of the women’s game. It wasn’t solely my fault; people just weren’t willing to stand for the women.
Because why would they? Everyone is saying that the men’s game is so much more exciting, as if that’s a good enough excuse to sit there blatantly disregarding the women’s game, only to find a burst of energy at the men’s tip off.
But why should I be complaining? At least there were people at the women’s basketball game, which is a step up from the student section at the women’s soccer games. Then again, I wouldn’t call a student section staring inattentively at their phones a full step.
You might think that no one even noticed, but you’d be wrong. The women’s team walked out of the locker room to an heart wrenching sight: The fans, who had sat there passively throughout their entire game, were now standing and cheering for the men’s team.
Where were you all an hour ago? Sitting in the bleachers, on Facebook. In the gym, but not paying any attention. The fans’ with their absentminded attitude might as well have not been there.
But, why are people so content to go and not pay attention? I don’t care if you think that women’s sports are less exciting than men’s sports. Find a new excuse that doesn’t make you sound like an ignorant jerk.
Maybe you aren’t a terrible person, and you don’t go to the women’s games because you want to enjoy your supper, and the game happens to fall over the dinner hour.
That’s not your fault; I’ll give you that. But no one is really making a big enough fuss about it to change it, because eh, who really cares?
You. You should care.
You should care about what it takes to be a student athlete: Hours spent in the gym day in and day out. Classes missed because of a game three hours away. Mod events pushed to the side when the team has to come first. Homework assignments that need to be made up from two days ago on top of the five-page paper due tomorrow. Sweat poured onto the field, and all for what? For the love of the game, sure.
But would you really enjoy putting in all of that work, week after week, only to have your effort disregarded simply because you’re a girl who’s a part of a team whose support comes from those that are only at the game because they couldn’t find anything else better to do?
Of course you wouldn’t; no one would. But season after season, the women’s teams here at Hesston have to deal with that.
The point of this is not to get people to support the women but ignore the men; we just want equality. We want to know that our hard work isn’t in vain. We want to know that we are worth just as much time and energy as the guys who will be playing right after us.
We aren’t asking for a lot. We are just asking that you put down your phone, watch the game (GASP!), and actually recognize that we matter. Or, don’t be there at all.