Fan disparity impacts athletes

Less attendance at girls’ sports games


Ayelet Prottas

Park students attend a boys basketball game against Waconia on Feb. 18. There has been less fans present at girls sporting events.

Elena Ortiz-Fishman and Danny Shope

Surrounded by countless empty bleachers at basketball games, senior Selam Maher said the lack of fans at girls’ games has been alienating. 

“It’s completely opposite. Girls’ games and gyms are empty — nobody’s there. It’s dead and then at boys’, you have all these people come out,” Maher said. “Any game could be anywhere and there’s people there for boys’ games, so it’s really unfortunate that I can’t get the same support.”

According to assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach Chris Nordstrom, enthusiasm from supporters is valuable for the success of teams at sporting events.

“(Fans) bring a lot of energy, especially in team sports,” Nordstrom said. “When there are more fans at the game, you can feel the energy on both sides. If there’s a crowd for both teams, it’s a fun environment and it just makes the experience that much better.”

One reason for the lack of audience at girls’ games, Maher said, is the general culture surrounding female athletics. 

“Having fans at games is important because it creates a really fun environment for us to compete against and also just shows the spirit of our school,” Maher said. “The culture around female sports in general is like, ‘why would I go spend my time watching that?’ There’s a place for all of us as a school to try to change that and try to be more conscious of like, ‘why am I not going to this girl’s game’ or, ‘why am I not going to girls’ sports and showing out.’”

Encouraging one another to attend sporting events is key to combating this fan disparity and cultivating a strong school spirit, Nordstrom said. 

“The students should continue to push: ‘hey, let’s get to events,’” Nordstrom said. “Continuing to find that heartbeat in activities and athletics is important. It’s a great way to get involved even if you’re not playing. It has great social aspects and, as a school, we need to continue to promote those kids who are participating and promote getting kids to support them.”

As the issue has continued, Maher said the absence of supporters has almost felt expected — furthering the divide between girls’ and boys’ sports. 

“We’re all kind of used to it, because it’s how things have always been. But seeing that type of energy at the boys games makes us feel like we’re not as wanted as much and not part of the school the same way the boys’ teams are,” Maher said.  

With the amount of hard work they put in, senior girls’ hockey captain Greta Betzer said it’s frustrating when her team is underappreciated by fans.

“We wish we could have a big student section like the boys’ games. We always talk about how we want a bunch of people to come to our games, but usually no one ends up coming,” Betzer said. “It’s really upsetting, because we try so hard — we try just as hard as the boys.”

For Maher, she said having an engaged audience truly makes a difference, and is an integral part of her sport. 

“I (want to) bring a more enjoyable environment for us to all play in — part of competing is being able to have other people see it too, in a way,” Maher said. “Just having that school pride and being able to show that off is also part of the sport.”