Upon committing to this amazing institution, I took my official visit and was taken to a University of Michigan Mens Basketball game. Since I have never been to a college basketball game, I did not know what I was in store for. I met up with the coaches, who took us to our seats—about 3 rows up from the floor. We were half an hour early, yet the atmosphere was already unreal. Almost everyone there was wearing a University of Michigan basketball shirt/jersey. Then, within the next fifteen minutes the whole stadium was packed full. The game started and the chants got louder and louder. It was surreal; the amount of people that showed support and sang the chants with everything they had. It was impossible to be drawn away from the game. There was no checking of twitter, Instagram, or any other social media sites. The atmosphere glued everyone to the game; it was as if we were the 6th man, helping them win the game. When the final whistle was blown, Michigan came out victorious. The final applause was baffling; I don’t think I was even able to say anything to my coach at that time and we were standing right next to each other. At this time, I knew I had picked the right college.
It wasn’t until I was at the University of Michigan student that I started to explore our athletics and take a step out from my comfort zone of football, hockey, and basketball. One night, after one of our games, a couple of the guys from my team got me to stay and watch the girls soccer game. It was a Big Ten game against Penn State, who was number one in the Big Ten. Knowing this before, I imagined a lot of support from the Michigan Ultras ( A soccer fan base club) and also from families and friends coming out to support the team. It was about twenty minutes before the game, and the stands were scarce. The student section side had about what looked like twenty to thirty kids standing there (however still chanting their lunges out). When the game started, the stands were probably about 1/8th full. I was amazed to see this. With how big of a game it was, I would have expected at least triple what was actually there. While I knew it was not as big of a sport as football, hockey, or basketball, it was getting fan numbers that were not even close to the amount of fans that could have been there filling those stands.
Then, thanks to my Political Science class, I actually started to think about why there was such a drastic change from a mens sport to a women’s sport. In Mika LaVaque-Manty’s “Being a Women and Other Disabilities”, he talks about discrimination of women in sports. It is apparent that men and women are different in their abilities, yet I feel Mika explains it perfectly when he talks about how it isn’t these differences that draw less fans, its what society values. The student population at the University of Michigan would rather watch a high energy, thrilling, all around exciting game of basketball then a slower, less of a thrilling atmosphere women’s soccer game. This made me realize that I was one of these people without even knowing it.
It wouldn’t be fair to look away from the numbers that a men’s sport such as basketball brings in compared to its counterpart, the women’s basketball team. In 2010, the men’s basketball team earned a revenue of $3,523,095, which was more than all of the women’s team combined, who earned $999,625. This makes it easier to understand why there is so much of an emphasis put on advertising sports like Mens Basketball as compared to Women’s Soccer.
I feel that because of how society views Men’s sports as compared to Women’s sports, the difference in fans will be the same until the stereotype is overcome. Society likes mens sports because they are fast moving, high intensity, and (in some) big hitting. And on the other hand you have women’s sports which take just the amount of skill, yet a different type of skill. Women’s sports take finesse, technique, and intelligence.
Until people understand the differences and also respect the differences, I think it will be awhile for the change of attendance to take place.