Sexism Showing in High School Athletics


Hannah Locke, Staff Writer

As a student, some of the most memorable aspects of high school deal with athletics.  While some remember playing games with their closest friends and winning championships, others remember being a part of student sections and cheering on their friends. Dover, for example, is rooted in rivalry and takes sports very seriously.  We have so many traditions and values based on our sports teams. Everyone is encouraged to show up to sporting events, and even the school hosts pep rallies and bonfires to get everyone’s involvement. However, most of these events seem to revolve around the men’s teams more than the women’s. So why is it that men’s teams are more popular than any women’s team? 

When it comes to high school sports, men’s basketball and football have the largest crowds and student sections. Many of the girls sports, such as basketball and volleyball, lack any students at all and have few fans not including their supportive parents. As a female athlete, I find this difficult to understand. I love being involved at the football games with the student section; however, I wish these students and myself included took more time to value the female athletes within our school.  Perhaps it is because women athletes are underrated when compared to men.  I think that many of the female athletes are exceptional and unnoticed simply because they are overpowered by the men that dominate in their sports. Some of the greatest athletes in America are women, such as Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Alex Morgan.  Men on average have higher muscle content, leading many people to automatically assume they are better at playing sports. This is simply not true. While in some cases, men may be able to kick a ball farther or run faster, very little of the game is just about the physical aspect. A large portion of the game is the mental aspect, how smart an athlete is on the field, court, ect. Women are just as successful and impressive as men when it comes to sports, we as a society just fail to recognize that. 

Furthermore, America loves the sport of football. Football has been America’s favorite sport since 1972 and is picked by about 37.5% of adults as the favorite. This sport just also happens to be for men only.  This American favorite sport is also the most popular within high schools. Especially in Dover, football is a love the whole community shares. Hundreds of people make an appearance in the stands every single Friday night. These athletes are publicly recognized and adored, which automatically brings them more fame and popularity the women’s teams lack. This is not necessarily something that can be changed, but I do believe that it could be a reason that women’s sports are less popular. 

Money is another huge aspect dealing with men’s sports being favored.  Because football and basketball games bring in the most money and fans for the schools, they are also the sports getting all the money for new uniforms and equipment.  They receive more donations than other teams, and I have even heard of men’s teams using money that was donated specifically for a women’s team. Because they bring in the most crowd and revenue, their improvements are viewed as more important. Outside of high school sports, the salaries of professional athletes are different based on gender.  The average salary for a male in the NBA is about $7.5 million. The average woman in the WNBA is making $120,000 and only a few of them are making over $200,000. While I am aware that this is not the same thing as high school sports, I believe that this idea that women’s sports are less valuable institutes itself into our high schools. This idea should not be ignored or viewed as acceptable, but changed to value all athletes equally. 

Not only are women underrated, but they are not promoted as much as the men’s sports teams are.  While everyone is still encouraged to support these teams, they do not have any pep rallies, cheerleaders, dance teams, or bands supporting them while they play. Schools are not promoting these women’s teams nearly as much as the men’s and the outcome is visible at their events. Thankfully, last year our school took the time to value every female athlete in the school.  We were posted on the Dover City Schools webpage and supported each other at the girls basketball game. Some of Dover’s women alumni also showed up to the basketball game, and we all watched the video that was made about us. This gesture made by our school was one way to show how we appreciate female athletes, and that their hard work and talent does not go unnoticed. Courtney Rees, varsity cheerleading coach and English teacher here at Dover, knows how important our female athletes are. She believes, “at Dover, we are fortunate to have a large population of student athletes involved in both boys and girls sports. While tradition shows boys’ sports to have large numbers of spectators, our girls often don’t receive the recognition they deserve. It’s important, especially with the dedication and success these athletes show, that we make it a point to continue to support all our Tornadoes!” Mrs. Rees has made a huge difference in our school and community for womens sports by encouraging all students to show up and support our female athletes.  She was also a huge help when organizing that day to celebrate the female athletes in our school. 

In general, male athletes and sports are favored by students and community members. Perhaps, if women’s sports were promoted and celebrated as much as men’s sports are, then there would be more crowd participation.  The goal should be to get students to go to every game they can attend.  Students show up to every football game on Friday nights, but only come to the occasional Dover-Phila rivalry games for women’s basketball ,volleyball, softball, and soccer. High schools nationwide should be more of an attempt to support these women every game and not just when there is a heavy rivalry. Our female athletes work extremely hard and should be valued as the talented athletes that they are.