Girls weigh in on appreciation of female sports

Girls weigh in on appreciation of female sports

This past summer, the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team won the Women’s World Cup. During the team’s run to the title, many Americans began to support the team more and more as the tournament went on. Support for female sports was at an all-time high during the tournament; however, the popularity of female sports dropped tremendously after the Women’s World Cup came to an end.

In general, support for female sports is lacking. Whether it’s the Women’s National Team, Ronda Rousey, or Serena Williams, none have recently been able to garner enough hype to top the fanfare behind male sports. Unfortunately, that’s how things go in America today. Males often associate sports of their gender as being superior to female sports because of many irrational reasons. Some reasons men often cite deal with height, strength, and more competition. Although some men may be taller and stronger, most men would agree that female athletes like Williams and Rousey are just as strong and competitive as their male counterparts (The only exception being Elder wrestler Rocco Salamone, who seems to think he could destroy Rousey in a wrestling match). They have all the reasons in the world to be more popular, yet they are continually overlooked.

Likewise, girls in our grade seem to have less support from their peers as male athletes in high school do. At football games, there seems to be upwards of 700 or 800 students in the cheering section. If you look at the girls’ games, there seems to be much less. Also, rivalries seem to be much more downplayed within women’s sports.

Sam Seger, the captain of the volleyball team at Mercy High School, decided to voice her opinions about the topic.

Sam said, “Yes, I think within high school I feel equal to male sports, but sometimes I wish people cared as much about one of our sports as they do about football.”

She continued, “The rivalry is super intense between Seton and Mercy. The games are really loud and exhausting because of the pressure. Those are the big games that people show up to because Seton and Mercy have always been schools that don’t like each other.” So it seems like at an all-girl school, sports there seem equally as important as they do at male schools.

Another overlooked factor in girl sports is commitment. Many casual sports fans fail to even think of the preparation it must take in order for them to be successful.

When asked about his sister’s commitment as a former member of the Mercy cross country team, Michael Ridder said, “My sister, Megan, was very committed to her sport. She wasn’t the best runner on the team, but she woke up early in the morning for every practice and never missed a meet. She did a great job energizing the team.”

While interviewing Mike, we also discovered that his father is also closely involved with Mercy cross country as its head coach. When asked how he felt about people saying girl sports aren’t as competitive, Mr. Ridder said “I don’t think that’s fair.  My girl’s care deeply about being the best runner’s they can be and competing against others.”

When asked how committed his girls must be, Mr. Ridder replied saying  “They are very disciplined, conditioning at 7 AM in the morning five days a week, running on their own, staying late to do extra lifting, doing stretches, taking ice baths, and they care very deeply about continuing the strong tradition of the program.”

Lastly, to state his opinion on the level of competitiveness within the sports, Mr. Ridder responded by saying “The boys are competitive against their own level.  The smaller schools aren’t competitive against the larger schools, high school athletes aren’t competitive against college or pro, and elite women runners would crush many high school runners, the difference is the level of the competition.  It’s not fair to make a comparison between the two.  The girls show that they work hard and compete against girls on their level and continue to strive to be the best that they can be.

…the difference is the level of the competition. It’s not fair to make a comparison between the two. The girls show that they work hard and compete against girls on their level and continue to strive to be the best that they can be.”

— Mr. Scott Ridder '87

Lastly, we interviewed the reigning captain of the Oak Hills girls basketball team, Kali Jones. When asked how she felt about the amount of appreciation shown towards female sports at Oak Hills, Kali replied saying “I think women sports get overlooked the majority of the time—you can tell just by the attendance for the games. It doesn’t matter if the girls’ soccer team is undefeated and the football team has a losing record. The football team, along with other guys teams, are more appreciated. I don’t think girl sports get all the credit they should.”

Inevitably, everyone is going to have different opinions about women’s sports. Although that is a given, it’s hard to deny that these girls aren’t dedicated to their sports. These girls practice every day of the school week, play at least one game a week, and also participate in off-season conditioning. Guys may have bigger crowds at their games, but that doesn’t mean that the girls are any less impressive.

In the end, the issue of appreciation of female sports doesn’t need to be addressed through attendance. However, this issue can be addressed through guys stepping up and showing female athletes the respect they deserve. Female high school athletes may not be going through the rigorous, dreaded two-a-day practices or lifting sessions like some boy sports. Nonetheless, these girls are still making commitments, and we should respect those commitments.