Valuing women’s sports on higher pedestal

The 2021 National Basketball Association (NBA) finals had an average of 9.91 million viewers across the United States. So much excitement surrounds the men’s playoffs, and for good reason. People would assume the same game but with women instead would be equally as popular, right? But the 2021 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) finals had an average of 548,000 viewers, according to Statista.

There is a discrimination against women’s sports at the professional level, and it carries over to high school sports. Women’s games are scheduled for earlier times then men’s. Female athletes claim they see less support and excitement for their games. Nationwide, women get paid less and have lower viewership. The role of advertising from major sports channels such as Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) plays a big part in this. A 2019 study from USC and Purdue University shows that 95 percent of sports coverage on TV was centered around men’s sports, and that number has not decreased since. Women’s sports must receive the same promotion and advertising for their games so there is more support for them.

Women’s sports have no reason to be less popular, it can be just as entertaining and exciting as men’s sports. The discrimination is unnecessary. Nothing separates these athletes apart besides their gender. JuDolphin Media states that men’s sports “have higher production values, higher-quality coverage, and higher-quality commentary.” More visibility and better production quality will increase the level of professionalism and viewership for women’s sports. If there is more promotion and rallying for the female athletes’ games, women will achieve equality in pay and popularity. Women achieve great accomplishments just like men, and they should be recognized for that.

Men have always been paid more than women in any profession, but there is no justification for this pay gap. Athelo Group states that male athletes in various sports make “anywhere from 15 percent to 100 percent more than female athletes”. The average salary for NBA players for this past season is $7.5 million, while that average salary is only $120,648 for WNBA players, according to ESPN and Sporting News. Promotion and wages play hand in hand, and an increase in media coverage of women’s sports will help establish equality across the sports industry.

Some make the argument that female athletes are not equal to male athletes regarding physical ability. Duke Law states that there is a 10 to 12 percent performance gap between elite male athletes and elite female athletes. But women can still be competitive in their sports and give a good game for spectators to watch. Many also say women receive less money because they bring in less money. According to The Telescope, the men’s FIFA World Cup brought in $6 billion, while the women’s tournament brought in $131 million. Promotion plays a big part in this difference in profit. When there’s less work put in to promote the female athletes, fewer spectators know when and where to watch the women’s games. It’s the exact same case for high school sports.

At Irvine High, girls varsity basketball games are always scheduled earlier than boys games. This makes it more difficult for spectators to come and support the girls at their games. Students may have other extracurriculars and parents might get off of work later than the game is scheduled for, decreasing the girls games’ attendance. Support for girls sports is generally lower than boys sports, and female athletes have noticed there is more hype surrounding the boys games. 

A player on the girls basketball team says that “there was less interest and enthusiasm shown towards girls varsity [than boys varsity], even though they’re really good.” Multiple female athletes at Irvine High feel the same way, whether they are in basketball or not. The school needs to address this issue, and at least alternate the girls’ and boys’ times so girls games are the later event for a change. The fight for gender equality in sports starts small at our school. Gender inequality in sports cannot be eliminated throughout the nation without eliminating gender inequality at high school.