Anyone who has ever attended a boys basketball game at Ottawa High School can attest to the astonishing atmosphere created on Friday nights.
The award-winning band blaring “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the cheerleaders and pomerettes dancing to the iconic school song trilogy and the student section and community members loudly cheering are all factors that make Kingman Gym a place that opposing teams dread coming to.
For decades, the longtime tradition of attending sporting events such as football or basketball on Friday evenings has been centered around male sports teams. Regardless of what gender is playing or what sport is being played, all high school activities deserve an equal amount of recognition and support from their school and community.
A home court advantage is a common term used in sports that describes the upper hand home teams have due to their comfortability in the setting, a large number of fans and other amenities such as a student section or band. Unfortunately, this so-called advantage does not exist in female athletics or in other underrecognized activities.
Girls basketball and volleyball games struggle to draw in crowds that exceed 100 people, and they are shown little to no support from the school. The environment of a game has a significant influence on the outcome. Teams that travel to play on the road have to play not only another team, but also that team’s home crowd. Again, in female athletics, the energetic home crowds that can usually be found at any male event are absent and do not offer the same positive impact that is made at boys home games.
Although it has been argued that girls playing sports is not as climactic as boys, both groups work equally hard and, therefore, deserve an equal amount of encouragement.
Speaking from personal experience, I have found that participating in high school athletics has been the most rewarding activity in which I have involved myself, but it was always difficult for me to accept that girls basketball games would never receive the amount of support or attention that the boys team received. It confused me that we always had to warm up in a silent gym during home games because there was no band and no music on the speakers as the boys have at every home game. It confused me that attendance at girls games was not required or even encouraged for members of other teams, students or community members as heavily as it is for boys home games.
Lastly, after four years of playing sports, it angers me that we were never given the same amount of respect or credibility as our male counterparts.
High school sports are male dominated, but there is no valid reason for not showing support to the girls who are involved in athletics. No matter the sport and no matter the gender, all athletes should be able to experience the same kind of support from their schools or communities.
Sexism in sports begins at a young age and prevails even in professional leagues; next season, make it a goal to consistently support a girls team at any level.
REGAN O'FALLON is a senior at Ottawa High School. She can be contacted via Assistant Editor Julie Barichello at firstname.lastname@example.org.