Athletes analyze inequalities in sports

Megan Flood, Writing coach

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Packed bleachers, a sea of school colors, screaming students; attending varsity sports is often depicted as a quintessential part of the high school experience. Throughout the year, there are various sporting events students can attend, however some sports have a much higher attendance rate than others. Senior Megan Shulfer said she primary notices this during back-to-back basketball games.

“Lots of times there aren’t as many people who show up for girls sports,” Shulfer said. “I’m in pep band, so lots of times I’m there for both games and I notice that, at least for basketball season, there’s maybe one or two rows of students for the girls game and half the stands are filled for the guys game.”

Junior Ashley Loeffelbein, a player on the girls varsity basketball team, also said she sees this happen very often, although she is unsure of why that is.

“I feel like people care more about boys sports than girls for sure, because if the boys don’t have a game after us, then there’s hardly any students at our games,” Loeffelbein said. “People go to baseball games rather than softball games.”

Senior Hayden Hitchcock, who is a member of the varsity basketball team and participated in football until this year, said that while he has noticed more students attending certain sports over others, the success of some of the less popular sports has brought them more attention from students.

“I would say based on society, football or basketball is going to get more attention than — I’m not trying to knock anybody — but like girls softball,” Hitchcock said. “I think I’ve definitely seen a shift toward it being more equal than it has been before, in past years. I think we’re getting there but as of now, there’s probably going to be a little more attendance at boys events, just depending on the sport.”

Hitchcock said that in his off season, he tries to go and support his friends on other teams, as he appreciates when they come to his games.

“I have friends on a bunch of the teams, like boys baseball, girls soccer, even football, since I didn’t play this year, I went to all those games,” Hitchcock said. “And I know if I want them to come to my games, I have to go to their games, and they’re my friends, and I like it, so I try to make it to as many games as I can.”

When friends and classmates come out to support someone, Hitchcock says, it gives them an extra adrenaline rush that can help them play better. Shulfer agrees with this, both as something she notices at the sporting events she has attended and as a member of the swim team. She said it gives athletes a chance to show their peers something they care a lot about and are good at.

“When people come to your sporting event and they’re supporting you and cheering you on, it makes the person doing the sport a lot more confident in themselves,” Shulfer said. “They want to do better for those people who took the time to come out.”

In general, Loeffelbeine said that students could improve their support of all sports, especially for home games.

“Last Friday versus St James, there were more St James students than Southwest students,” Loeffelbeine said. “I thought that was kind of ridiculous because it’s our school and it was our home game.”

Hitchcock said that while major accomplishments are always recognized through assemblies and the ice cream tradition after winning a state title, at normal games, there isn’t as much support and enthusiasm always shown by students. It is important, however, for support to be shown consistently to get to those accomplishments, Shulfer said.

“People should come out to the events, whether it be a meet or a game, to show school spirit,” Shulfer said. “If you want to be apart of a school that accomplishes things sports-wise, people should be supportive of the sports.”

Compared to other high schools in the district, Hitchcock said sometimes Southwest lacks school spirit, but if students come out and support their teams, their high school experience will be more fun and memorable.

“Just building that community here at Southwest is really important,” Hitchcock said. “The more school spirit we have, you’re going to enjoy high school more. A bunch of people say that Southwest, they don’t have a ton of school spirit and whatnot, so we really have to get rid of that reputation and come out to the games and show as much support as we can.”

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