Fan Turnout at OES Sporting Events

by Calla Slayton

Last Tuesday evening at 7:30pm, the field was filled with people who had come out for the Boys Lacrosse team’s final home game of the regular season. Students from all three divisions, faculty, and alumni were present to support the boys as they battled Lincoln High School — one of OES’s biggest rivals.

The evening was also the boys senior night — all seniors and their families were honored in a small ceremony before the opening faceoff.

The game was close the entire time, and even though OES lost, it was a thrill and many fans left with smiles on their faces. John Holloran was there to take photos throughout the night. The total attendance was over 100 people.

However, for the girls senior night, which was May 5 against Wilson High School, an estimated 20 students were there. Four seniors were being celebrated and because John was unavailable, pictures were done by his apprentices.

While the rivalry between OES vs Wilson is less intense than OES vs Lincoln, this was still the girls final home game of the regular season.

The disparities between the boys and girls lacrosse seniors nights are representative of most of the lacrosse games so far this year. Both of our lacrosse teams have had great success this season, but a pretty sizable gap in fan turnout remains.

There are multiple reasons why more fans come out for the boys’ game over the girls’. The first one that comes to mind is the fact they are played differently. Girls lacrosse is a more technical game, with less physicality. They frequently stop the game and then restart.

Boys lacrosse moves much faster and players are much more aggressive with each other. When fans come out, they expect to see an exciting, fast-paced game — and girls lacrosse often isn’t that.

However, what it really boils down to is that girls sports are not valued as highly as boys sports.

Senior and co-captain, Sydney G. discussed how the culture of OES, and arguably our greater society, does not take female sports as seriously. Despite Hailey H. and Sydney’s announcements in Gathering, there were still fewer fans at girls’ games than guys’ games.

Besides just the difference in play, Sydney also pointed to how the support for the two teams varied as well. For example, the varsity girls lacrosse team would frequently have team dinners and then all go and support the boys at their game. But rarely would the whole boys lacrosse team come to the girls’ games.

Now, this is not to say that male lacrosse players never came to support the girls. A lot of them did come to some of the girls’ games. However, the support received from the girls were not reciprocated to the same degree from the guys. Sydney also mentioned how there was a lack of support from OES women to come out and support the girls lacrosse team.

Ideally, we would hope other women would be out there supporting female sports, because we’ve experienced the lower fan turnout in other situations. However, this isn’t case.

While talking with Sydney, I was impressed by her composure and acceptance of the unfair situation. When I asked her how she managed to stay so calm about it, she explained how she’s “not angry at the situation” because she’s “been playing sports her whole life” and “grew up with it.”

But what kind of a message does it to send young female athletes when they see such lower support, from both men and women, at their sporting events? It tells them their hard work and dedication isn’t as significant as their male counterparts’ efforts.

Because this message is taught young, the consequences are ubiquitous later in life. Ranging from the women’s March Madness tournament not getting nearly the amount of hype as the men’s to the women’s World Cup winners getting paid a small fraction of what the men’s World Cup winners received, discouraging messages are constantly being sent to female athletes.

However, there is hope this will all eventually change. There will be a time when female and male athletes will be treated, paid, and celebrated equally. The question really is not if this disparity will change, but when and how it’ll transform. Sydney believed the shift must first happen at OES though.

When asked about the situation, Sydney boldly said, “Yes, I have full confidence the culture at OES will change.”

Throughout her high school experience, she’s already seen improvement. However, nothing will happen unless both men and women work together to make sure both teams are taken seriously.  

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