Blog Post #6
Over thanksgiving break, I returned to my alma mater, Pace Academy, in Atlanta to watch the boys and girls varsity basketball teams in their annual Thanksgiving tournaments. The girls were scheduled to play first at 4:30 and the boys followed at 6. I arrived at the gym about 10 minutes early and the scene reminded me of the one Mika Lavaque-Manty describes in his work, titled, “Being a Woman and other disabilities”. Lavaque-Manty discusses a photo of a 1910 Michigan women’s basketball game in which there are no spectators in the crowd. Similarly, at this game, the bleachers were empty aside from a few parents of some of the players. It was this moment that made me concentrate solely on the differences between the girls and boys games.
The stadium looked completely different as the boys game was ready to begin. The seats were nearly filled. Each team had its own student section that was recklessly mocking every action of the other team during warm-ups. There was an electric feeling as the announcer called out the starting lineups and the players ran out to do their ridiculous handshakes. The fans erupted when a male players name was called, but the few fans in attendance quietly applauded when a girls name was announced in the game prior. Not only were the pre-game atmosphere’s completely different, but so were the actual games.
The girls team got blown out from the start. The score was a lopsided 17-4 after one quarter and it turned into a joke for the remaining three quarters. The coaches and players from Pace completely lost interest in the game. Players would laugh as they turned the ball over or missed an easy lay-up instead of showing anger and sprinting back on defense. The coaches tried yelling at the players, but when they realized it wasn’t going to help, they took a seat on the bench with a nonchalant look on their faces. The game didn’t feel nearly as intense as the boys game, which had fans on their seats the entire time.
The Pace boys began the game with an alley-oop to their 6 foot 9 sophomore phenomenon Wendell Carter Jr. who finished the pass off with a powerful one-handed jam. Players were pumping their chests and fans were screaming in excitement. This play set the tone for what was an extremely exciting and competitive game. The game was physical and the referees were forced to blow their whistles a lot, which resulted in coaches screaming at the refs in hope of getting the call changed. Both teams exchanged blows for the majority of the game until it was tied with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The other team was called on a controversial foul as Carter Jr. went up for a lay-up and the coach exploded. The ref gave him a technical foul, which changed the momentum of the game as Pace pulled away to a 10-point victory. The emotions and seriousness of the parties involved in the game support Dunning’s theory that modern sports have become increasingly competitive, even though many aspects of the girl’s game tended to refute his assertion.
The gender differences Mika discusses in his essay are definitely relevant to all levels of sports. However, not every girls game is similar to the one I witnessed. They can often be just as if not more competitive and thrilling than many boys games. The differences in these two games are definitely more significant than those of the average male and female high school games. With that being said, women’s sports prove to be less popular than men’s sports at all levels. Although opportunities for women in sports have drastically increased in recent years, women’s sports still don’t compare to men’s sports when it comes to popularity or money, but I am confident women’s sports will continue to gain popularity in the coming years.