~Taryn Hannam-Zatz, Staff Writer~
Men’s and women’s sports have always been viewed in a different light.
The fight to bridge the gap between men’s and women’s sports in the United States took off beginning in 1972 due to the introduction of Title IX.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Despite the efforts of Title IX which are still ongoing, there remains a massive gap between men’s and women’s sports.
“Unfortunately, I do believe there is public perception that women’s sports and men’s sports have some differences,” Athletic Director Kyle McMullin said. “I will refrain from generalizing other people’s perspectives, but for casual sports fans, it can be quite confusing for what appears to be the same game on the surface.”
McMullin gave examples of lacrosse and basketball. Both sports have different rules for each gender. “Men’s basketball still plays halves while the women’s game has evolved to playing the game in quarters,” McMullin said.
There are many reasons why men’s and women’s sports are viewed differently. According to a survey I conducted of 27 CNU students, 25 claimed that the media doesn’t portray men’s and women’s sports equally.
A study conducted by the University of Southern California found that Women’s stories averaged 77 seconds, nearly 50 percent shorter than men’s stories. “Society advertises men’s sports on a much larger scale and it dominates the mainstream media over women’s sports,” junior Men’s Basketball player Luther Gibbs said.
The study also found that the way men’s and women’s sports are talked about is different.
Women’s sporting events and accomplishments are discussed in a more lackluster and dull sense whereas men’s sports and accomplishments are discussed in a more exciting way.
It is a common thought that people view the two sides differently due to the amount of contact, violence, or aggression in the sports. “In men’s sports they are allowed to be more aggressive, it adds entertainment value, and for the people who may not know the sport or the rules it gives them something to watch,” junior Women’s Lacrosse player Kaitlyn Ready said. The idea of violence contributing to entertainment value and amount of viewers increasing is accurate.
So it would seem it has more to do with the level of violence or contact rather than the actual gender. It just so happens that most sports with higher levels of contact and violence happen to be men’s sports.
“Take the UFC for example, before they didn’t even want to allow females into that, now I think more people are watching the women than the men, you see the women getting a lot more of the headline fights. So I think in that sport in particular it is kind of turning which is good,” Strength and Conditioning Coach Jesse Strawser said. Being on the women’s side of this issue can be frustrating.
“I think we are just so used to it being this way we kind of just brush it off because it’s expected. It would be great to have better turn out to some of our games,” Ready said.
Women’s teams get excited when 30 people show up to their games, whereas for a men’s team that would be a disappointment. This is an issue in society that needs to continue to be fought and hopefully eventually will disappear.
“Fundamentally, our institution is committed to providing all of our athletes with the opportunity to be champions. Whether one of our sports is played by men or women is not a consideration in our department,” McMullin said.
“I want our university to put each of our athletic programs on the same platform and allow each of them the same opportunity to compete and be the very best they can be.”
Christopher Newport University is dedicated to fighting this issue and making sure that both sides are treated equally. It is important to attend sporting events on both sides and support all teams.
“I believe we have made great progress towards eliminating some of this perception.
“However, we must continue finding ways to shine a light on the excellence displayed by female athletes at the highest levels,” McMullin said.
So, go out to a women’s basketball game or a women’s lacrosse game and make sure to support the female teams just as much as the men’s because at the end of the day, we are all Captains.