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Opinion: Women's basketball deserves to be recognized for its achievements and given the same attention as men

Opinion: Women's basketball deserves to be recognized for its achievements and given the same attention as men
Opinion: Women's basketball deserves to be recognized for its achievements and given the same attention as men

 


Being part of my family meant being a Golden State Warriors fan.

Wearing my No. 30 Stephen Curry jersey for good luck, I spent my school nights anxiously watching the Warriors. My sister and I did our homework early to catch the action, lamenting ourselves if we missed even a single game during the season.

Growing up with a love of basketball inevitably translated into my desire to play it. I started as a bench guard in a youth league, eventually earning my way as a starter in college, a role that had more to do with our five-man team than my talents.

I spent my school days discussing trade rumors with my friends and practicing in the evenings at the park with my father. Basketball quickly went from being a hobby to defining a crucial part of my identity.

However, as I continued my journey as an amateur athlete through high school, I began to realize that the majority of my friends were nearing the end of their athletic careers. Some students had the opportunity to play in college, but that was the pinnacle. Most of my friends couldn't dream of shooting winners in front of a sold-out crowd at Chase Center, formerly known as Oracle Arena.

It wasn't until this year's Women's March Madness tournament that I imagined a different future for female athletes.

According to Women's Sports Foundation, one in three teenage girls will give up sport during their teenage years, twice as many as their male counterparts. Limited access, cost and social stigma all contribute significantly to this worrying phenomenon. Female athletes may also face a lack of positive role models, which is a factor in their ultimate decision to end their sporting career.

I spent my summers at basketball camps with an all-male coaching staff. In scrimmages, we defaulted to men's basketballs, shot from the men's three-point line, and studied the highlights of our favorite men's players.

The male-centric culture of basketball caught up with me even off the court. After declaring myself a basketball fan in a room of men, I got used to being questioned about my knowledge. Any wrong answer or hesitation would just be a reason to label myself a “bandwagon.”

The uncomfortable reality is that men's sports are historically more popularized in mainstream media. Many sports fans support women's sports superficially, if at all. Even female athletes who identify as feminists often neglect to purchase tickets or follow news from the Women's National Basketball Association.

I am not immune to this pattern. I observed women's basketball banners on Bruin Walk and committed to attending more games, but my attendance at UCLA men's basketball games far exceeded the number of women's games this season, despite their historic record.

This deficit mentality changed when the Women's madness in March the tournament has gained popularity this year. I spent my spring break eagerly watching female athletes compete with the basketballs I used and from the lines I shot from. By sharing this excitement with millions of other fans, I finally felt at home within the basketball community.

The statistics confirmed it. The Womens March Madness tournament championship became the most watched basketball game at any level or gender since 2019, according to ESPN. Additionally, the WNBA draft saw its audience increased by 307% since 2023, while season tickets for the WNBA expansion team, the Golden State Valkyries, continue to sell for premium prices.

Beyond the numbers, it was extremely impactful to hear the spectators around me start to discuss women's basketball, spontaneously and without comparison or judgment. It felt like we were finally realizing that young athletes deserve role models and female athletes deserve recognition.

Listening closely to these conversations, I imagine a young girl at basketball camp this summer, replicating the moves of Caitlin Clark and Stephen Curry or staying up late to finish an Aces game.

While the spotlight on women's basketball has been inspiring, it has forced me to face the glaring reality that female athletes have always been there and deserved my support long before.

It is precisely for this reason that critics decry the recent rise in women's basketball popularity as simply a fad.

But that's where we come in. Instead of wallowing in the guilt of wasted time, new fans of women's sports should commit to making this change permanent. Elevating women's basketball is crucial for young athletes and provides entertainment for viewers.

For countless basketball seasons to come, I look forward to cheering on all Bruins. And in time, I'm convinced that being a part of my family will mean being a fan of whoever shoots the ball, as long as he wears Golden State colors, of course.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://dailybruin.com/2024/06/08/opinion-womens-basketball-deserves-recognition-for-achievements-equal-attention-as-men

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