Women’s sports gain prevalence in society due to groundbreaking figures

October 24, 2019 — by Shama Gupta

Just before the third quarter buzzer sounded in a game last year, senior Ella Parr remembers seeing a crowd of people trickling into the gym and filling the stands as the clock reset for the final eight minutes. 

Where there were previously friends and family occupying less than a fourth of the stands, the bleachers were now filling up quickly in anticipation for the upcoming varsity boys game. 

Parr understands the increased attendance for the boys game. “It’s like a ‘Friday night under the lights’ kind of game,” she said. “But it is kind of deteriorating to our play because we are still a Saratoga team, and it’s just family and some friends at our games.” 

One difference between the two styles of play, Parr said, is that boys often play for a crowd reaction with 3 pointers and other low-percentage plays while girls tend to play more conservatively.

Varsity boys’ basketball player Cameron King, too,  has noticed differences between the two teams. He pointed out the height, strength and quickness differences lead to different styles of play. “Our circumstances are differentー our opponents are taller and there is more competition to make the boys team,” he said. 

Aside from crowd differences, however, women’s sports and men’s sports are simply perceived differently when it comes to quality of play. Sophomore Emma Foley experienced this when male friends who play on soccer teams that are often a level or two below her try to question her abilities. 

While her natural response to any of these challenges is “come play me,” Foley sees men’s and women’s soccer as being inherently different and think they should not be compared. 

“They have individual styles of play and they strive in their own ways on the field,” she said. 

Foley said a big difference in their playing style is the level of aggression.

In fact, during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, U.S. viewership of the final game was 22 percent higher than the men’s 2018 final (CNBC) despite the Men’s Gold Cup games airing at the same time as the women’s games. 

This year, the U.S. Women’s soccer team made big statements that drew viewership and some support, such as team captain Megan Rapinoe’s public decision to not visit the White House upon winning the cup. 

Rapinoe, co-captain Alex Morgan and many teammates have a large social media presence, which helped garner public interest in the sport. 

For the first time in history, a women’s team jersey was the best selling jersey in Nike’s sales. The team has raised the bar in women’s sports; however, the USWNT is one of the few women’s teams that have achieved so much prestige. 

In tennis, the female division of tournaments like Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open have near equal viewership in comparison to the men’s bracket. For the first time in 13 years, the women’s Wimbledon final had more viewers than the men’s (4.6 million vs. 4.5 million). 

This interest in women’s tennis undoubtedly started since the Williams sisters came on the professional scene in the late 1990s. Serena has won 23 grand slam titles in singles play, 14 in women’s doubles, and two in mixed doubles, and has a large influence through a multitude of brand deals and commercials.

In 2004, she signed a five-year, $40 million brand deal with Nike. She also endorses brands like Wilson, Intel, Aston Martin, Gatorade, and Beats by Dre. However, male athletes famous for their skill often make more. Neymar Jr., for example, a Brazillian soccer star, scored an 11-year deal with Nike, in which he earns about $10.2 million per year. Other players like Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi make as much as $28 million from brand endorsements in one year alone. 

Although some women’s teams and players are proving the worth and entertaining value of women’s sports, most famale teams lag behind in this movement. 

Just before the third quarter buzzer sounded in a game last year, senior Ella Parr remembers seeing a crowd of people trickling into the gym and filling the stands as the clock reset for the final eight minutes. 

Where there were previously friends and family occupying less than a fourth of the stands, the bleachers were now filling up quickly in anticipation for the upcoming varsity boys game. 

Parr understands the increased attendance for the boys game. “It’s like a ‘Friday night under the lights’ kind of game,” she said. “But it is kind of deteriorating to our play because we are still a Saratoga team, and it’s just family and some friends at our games.” 

One difference between the two styles of play, Parr said, is that boys often play for a crowd reaction with 3 pointers and other low-percentage plays while girls tend to play more conservatively.

Varsity boys’ basketball player Cameron King, too,  has noticed differences between the two teams. He pointed out the height, strength and quickness differences lead to different styles of play. “Our circumstances are differentー our opponents are taller and there is more competition to make the boys team,” he said. 

Aside from crowd differences, however, women’s sports and men’s sports are simply perceived differently when it comes to quality of play. Sophomore Emma Foley experienced this when male friends who play on soccer teams that are often a level or two below her try to question her abilities. 

While her natural response to any of these challenges is “come play me,” Foley sees men’s and women’s soccer as being inherently different and think they should not be compared. 

“They have individual styles of play and they strive in their own ways on the field,” she said. 

Foley said a big difference in their playing style is the level of aggression.

In fact, during the 2019 Women’s World Cup, U.S. viewership of the final game was 22 percent higher than the men’s 2018 final (CNBC) despite the Men’s Gold Cup games airing at the same time as the women’s games. 

This year, the U.S. Women’s soccer team made big statements that drew viewership and some support, such as team captain Megan Rapinoe’s public decision to not visit the White House upon winning the cup. 

Rapinoe, co-captain Alex Morgan and many teammates have a large social media presence, which helped garner public interest in the sport. 

For the first time in history, a women’s team jersey was the best selling jersey in Nike’s sales. The team has raised the bar in women’s sports; however, the USWNT is one of the few women’s teams that have achieved so much prestige. 

In tennis, the female division of tournaments like Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open have near equal viewership in comparison to the men’s bracket. For the first time in 13 years, the women’s Wimbledon final had more viewers than the men’s (4.6 million vs. 4.5 million). 

This interest in women’s tennis undoubtedly started since the Williams sisters came on the professional scene in the late 1990s. Serena has won 23 grand slam titles in singles play, 14 in women’s doubles, and two in mixed doubles, and has a large influence through a multitude of brand deals and commercials.

In 2004, she signed a five-year, $40 million brand deal with Nike. She also endorses brands like Wilson, Intel, Aston Martin, Gatorade, and Beats by Dre. However, male athletes famous for their skill often make more. Neymar Jr., for example, a Brazillian soccer star, scored an 11-year deal with Nike, in which he earns about $10.2 million per year. Other players like Argentinian soccer player Lionel Messi make as much as $28 million from brand endorsements in one year alone. 

Although some women’s teams and players are proving the worth and entertaining value of women’s sports, most famale teams lag behind in this movement. 

On a global scale, there are more men’s players, men’s leagues, and men’s games that air on television in each major sport. Top baseball players earn $20 or $25 million a year, while most people probably don’t know a professional softball league even exists. The National Basketball League similarly dwarfs its female counterpart, the WNBA.

Although King loves to support women’s basketball teams, he thinks  viewers may not see the subtle skills the players possess. What sets men’s professional athletics apart to him is the athleticism and aggressiveness of the games. King said that “men’s teams tend to be more impressive because a normal person could not normally perform like a pro men’s team.” 

Although men and women ultimately do not play at the same level, Foley emphasized that it is crucial for more women’s teams to get more attention and advertising dollars. “Young girls would see that they are of equal value to men, and that would inspire more girls to enter typically male-dominated areas,” she said. 

On a global scale, there are more men’s players, men’s leagues, and men’s games that air on television in each major sport. Top baseball players earn $20 or $25 million a year, while most people probably don’t know a professional softball league even exists. The National Basketball League similarly dwarfs its female counterpart, the WNBA.

Although King loves to support women’s basketball teams, he thinks  viewers may not see the subtle skills the players possess. What sets men’s professional athletics apart to him is the athleticism and aggressiveness of the games. King said that “men’s teams tend to be more impressive because a normal person could not normally perform like a pro men’s team.” 

Although men and women ultimately do not play at the same level, Foley emphasized that it is crucial for more women’s teams to get more attention and advertising dollars. “Young girls would see that they are of equal value to men, and that would inspire more girls to enter typically male-dominated areas,” she said.