The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Support means success

Attending women’s athletics matters

Throughout my life, I have been an athlete, training on a soccer field or in a gymnastics club. Focusing on the tactics and technicality of soccer or the artistry and composition of gymnastics routines, I practice to compete. Competitions are where I am able to showcase the talent I have relentlessly developed, but it is hard to not feel as though my effort was in vain when I look into the stands.

Being a woman and in athletics has been challenging and discouraging, as I often find that the teams I am on are not taken seriously or are seen as incapable of earning respect for their accomplishments. The effort my teammates and I contribute to our performances is also ignored because our games and meets lack the consistent student attendance other sports seem to have.

When I was a freshman, I noticed a dramatic difference in the student sections at the sports I was involved in and the ones I was not. I have always understood that some sports are more popular than others or have a record which prompts a greater following. Students also have responsibilities that interfere with games or meets, making them unable to attend. However, it is important that people recognize attendance matters and affects the competitors greatly. People should want to support various teams, regardless of the gender or record of the participants.

My freshman and sophomore years, I would play in a varsity soccer game, and there would be only ten students from our school in attendance. Following us, the men’s soccer team would play, and as I would sit in the stands and wait, the bleachers became filled with more students. To make matters worse, when our team had a game following the men’s team, we would see people leave. At gymnastics, there would be no one at all. I have seen women play in more competitive games than men but no one was there to witness it.

A lack of attendance makes women believe that they are not worth people’s attention, and it fails to credit them for their talent and effort which is practiced and perfected. Women are constantly challenged with a need to separate themselves from the team they are falsely perceived to be and this concept of inferiority. How can we be unworthy of acknowledgment when we do not have the ability to defend ourselves and our talent in the first place?

Without spectators encouraging your team and forming opinions on your performances, it becomes more difficult to find motivation and to attempt to earn respect as athletes. Worst of all, young girls do not see themselves continuing to compete because they fail to see the recognition of and value in their sports. If I am not supported as an athlete, what hope do they have?

I think of Nebraska volleyball’s match against Omaha. Held in Memorial Stadium, the match set a world record for women’s sports attendance with 92,003 people. When I first heard of this, I was shocked and inspired. Knowing this allowed myself and many others the capability of seeing that women matter as athletes and competitors.

This year, for many of the women’s soccer home games, we have had notable student sections. They are not as large as the ones for football games, but there are still rows of students in attendance, encouraging us by creating a voice for our team. On those nights, my teammates and I feel as though women’s soccer matters to our school.

At halftime, the entire team comes together excitedly because having that many people watch us play is a first. We had chosen to be a competitive team and carried that through practices and games, challenging ourselves and earning a winning record. We felt as though it all was worth it. When we heard the continuous support and encouragement from the stands, we were inspired and motivated to win.

When people believe in you and regard you as capable of success, you begin to believe in yourself. This is why attendance of women’s athletics matters. Acknowledging the strength of women in competitions and empowering them to continue being a competitor allows them to be inspirations for young girls who will follow them. Attendance truly matters.

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About the Contributor
Anna Williams
Anna Williams, News Editor
Hey! My name is Anna, and I am a junior. When I am not writing for Echo, you will find me on the field or in the gym, as I play soccer for the high school and coach pre-school gymnastics classes. I love walking around Lake Harriet, traveling, and attending Youth Group with my younger sister. This is my second year writing for Echo, and I am so excited!

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