The problem with how we talk about women and sports

By: Beth Casteel

In general, most of the athletics here at Cleveland State get a good amount of attendance and support from the students, but I will say that some of the sports teams here deserve to have a lot more attendance than what they get now. There are so many fantastic teams, but they don’t receive as much recognition or game attendance compared to, let’s say, the men’s basketball team.

This is especially true when talking about the women’s athletic teams on campus. They typically get a lot less attention from students compared to the men’s teams. What’s worse is that some of the women’s athletics are doing way better than the men’s, and they still don’t get a lot of attendance at games.

While women’s sports — specifically when talking about college sports — have progressed significantly since the enactment of Title IX, a federal law to prohibit gender discrimination in educational institutions, passed in 1972, the inequalities and gender gap still exist today.

Women and sports in general have a rocky history with one another. Growing up, the mindset was always that sports are a boy’s game, and a lot of people still hold onto that mindset. While I don’t play any sports, I do watch a lot of sports, yet I don’t really like talking about my interest in it. I’ve gotten the “chicks don’t like sports, you just think the players are hot” comment more times than I can count, and it gets tiring after a while.

Being a female sports fan is like being a fan of anything else, yet there’s this feeling that I get when I talk to other people about my opinions on sports, and it proves to be a problem. I’m not sure if it’s because some sports fans are heated — and I am the furthest thing from a heated anything or if it’s because of the stigma that’s been drilled into me that girls and sports don’t mix. Regardless of what the case may be, I just don’t like talking about it.

I shouldn’t feel so uncomfortable speaking about my love for hockey because I have a fear someone will criticize my opinions, view me as a ditzy girl who knows nothing about the sport or is just trying to date a player. It’s a frustrating problem that I constantly face, but maybe it’s my own doing.

I might be playing the devil’s advocate here, but I do realize that maybe I should be pushing myself out there and talking about it. Maybe the reason girls aren’t getting that recognition as valid sports fans is because we aren’t talking about it and putting our opinions out there.

I wish it could be that simple when talking about women’s athletics, but it can’t. Women have been seen as inferior to men for ages in the sports industry, and I can’t figure out why. Especially considering that in some cases, the women’s teams are better.

It’s difficult to place why women aren’t seen in the same light as men are when talking about sports. There are countless studies that focus anywhere from a lack of media coverage to the blatant fact that female athletes are portrayed in a more sexual way than men. While both cases can be a factor, this issue can still revolve around the mindset that people have between women and sports.

It doesn’t matter how many studies are done. If the mindset doesn’t change, nothing is going to change when it comes to women’s athletics.

The simple fact is that women get viewed differently when it comes to their relationship with sports. It doesn’t matter how good a team is. There is still going to be this unfair view that it’s inferior to the men’s version of the sport. It doesn’t matter how into the sport you are. There’s still going to be that one drunk guy at the game who yells because they think you’re only there because the athletes are attractive — even if they’re not.

The glaring differences, especially in the attendance of games and the treatment of women in the sports world, aren’t going to be fixed anytime soon. There’s a lot of work to be done, and the first is changing the stigma that sports are strictly for men.

While I can’t tell you what to do, if I may suggest, go do yourself a favor and watch our fantastic women’s teams for a change.