It’s a tale as old as time, women being given less than men and being told to be happy that they’re getting anything at all. The University of Cincinnati’s women’s basketball team is being told that after the University decided that for next year the women’s basketball team would be playing at St. Ursula, a high school, while Fifth Third Arena is undergoing renovations. The UC’s men’s basketball team will be playing at Northern Kentucky University. St. Ursula holds around one thousand people, while NKU holds around four thousand and is a Division 1 college. UC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said, ““We believe we can create a competitive advantage in there based on the size and setup. It’s a facility that is close to campus and as least intrusive as possible.”” This is not a new concept, in fact we can go back to the early 1900s to see this in action: “Indeed, the ﬁrst generation of women’s gym teachers claimed that sports had to be segregated by gender because only under their watchful eyes could women be prevented from “loss of sexual control” and “emotional stimulation.” (Zirin 147).”
Women’s sports have always been undervalued by society. Women who play “men” sports like hockey, golf, and soccer are thought of to not be as good as the men. Then if they play “women” sports like figure skating, they’re reduced to not being as good as athletes because it’s a feminine sport. In college, women make up fifty-seven percent of all college students, but they only receive forty-five percent of athletic scholarships (Eitzen 201). Then coupled with the fact that universities give women sports less money than men – UC spent over one thousand dollars per player on the men’s basketball team compared to thirty thousand per player on the women’s team (EADA) – it’s no surprise that women are treated lesser by universities and society.
While the UC’s women’s basketball team does not have the same audience as the men’s team, it could be because the University does not give enough money and support to the women’s team for them to get the same attendance levels. Although, when the UC’s women’s basketball team played the UCONN’s women’s basketball team over four thousand people came to watch, showing that people do care about the team.
It’s hard for women’s college sports to succeed when people in charge of the university, and the NCAA as a whole, have a problem with women in power. According to Coakley “Women athletic directors in 20% of institutions in 2012 (215 schools), while men held that position in 843 institutions (Coakley 206).” Women are more likely to care about women’s sports and will want them to succeed. This is not saying that the men in charge don’t care, but it’s easy to ignore women’s sports if you don’t give them money or advertise their games and matches so people can go watch them. The argument with people saying that it’s okay women play in these lesser facilities (which also happened with Northwestern University’s women’s basketball team) is that they attract less people. It’s true that the UC women’s basketball program averaged less than one thousand people per game, but the fact that the University couldn’t find a suitable arena (preferably one that actually is meant for college basketball players) is a little sexist. Especially when the University doesn’t give the women’s basketball team as much money. Yes, one could argue that it’s because the women’s team doesn’t bring in the same amount of revenue as the men, but is that really the women’s fault? Should the women’s team be punished for not attracting as many people? If the University gives the women’s team more money than what they already get and advertise and promote their games just as much as the men’s team, then maybe they’ll start attracting more people.
As mentioned early this is not the first time something like this has happened. It’s currently happening with Northwestern University where Welsh-Ryan Arena is undergoing renovations. The men’s basketball team will be playing at Allstate Arena, home of DePaul University, while the women’s team will being playing at Evanston Township High School. Northwestern University spends roughly three hundred-fifty thousand more dollars on its men’s team than its women’s (EADA), which isn’t a huge difference, but considering there’s more players on the women’s team than the men’s, it’s still questionable.
In professional sports it is usually the same sort of story. “Additionally, when men and women play the same sport, there are often sexually discriminatory rules. The most common involve length of races or duration of matches. NBA quarters are twelve minutes long while WNBA quarters are ten; professional men’s tennis players play a best-of-five set match while women’s professional players play a best-of-three (Goff 450).” It’s easy to see why people say women aren’t as good as men, when they aren’t even allowed to play under the same rules; saying that these women don’t have the stamina to play as long as tennis matches or basketball games. The same thing also happens in golf, women tee up close to the hole than the men do, saying they don’t have the strength to hit it as far as the men or that they need an advantage to finish under par.
Having a men’s team play in an actual arena meant for college basketball players while women have to play at high schools is not fair or equal. It doesn’t matter how many people come to their games, it’s on the University to make sure that their men and women’s teams are treated fairly. It’s on them to make sure that both teams have the same opportunities and right now they don’t. In a Cincinnati.com article civil rights lawyer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar said, “You don’t have to have a law degree to see this isn’t equal. If you ask the men would they switch, what would they say? That answers the basic fairness question.” She brings up a good point, because more likely than not, the men’s basketball team would not want to switch places and play at a high school. So, why should the women then?
Brake, Deborah L. Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution. New York: New York UP, 2016. Print.
Coakley, Jay J. Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Eitzen, D. Stanley. Fair and Foul: Beyond the Myths and Paradoxes of Sport. N.p.: Rowman & Littlefield, n.d. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 4 Feb. 206.
Goff, Jeremy Book Review: Playing with the Boys: Why Separate Is Not Equal in Sports, 21 Marq. Sports L. Rev. 449 (2010) Available at: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/sportslaw/vol21/iss1/17
Murphy, Kate. “Is It Fair for UC Women’s Basketball, Volleyball Teams to Play at St. Ursula?”Cincinnati.com. N.p., 04 Apr. 2017.
Zirin, Dave. Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside down. New York: New, 2013.