Girls Basketball struggles to draw a crowd as large as boys

The crowd at the boys game. [Jenna Clark]

By Jenna Clark

The varsity girls basketball team is working on ways to bring a bigger crowd to their games. For MCAL games, the girls team plays before the boys, and there is typically a much larger student and parent section at the boys game.

Varsity girls basketball coach and math teacher David Blair offered his students extra credit to come and support the girls team. A large crowd of his students attended a game versus Berkeley High, a DI team from a school of 3,400 students. The Mustangs won in a close game, and credited their win to the help of the student section.

At most games, the girls have a small crowd until the end when students show up early for the boys game. Varsity basketball player Shasta Parker said she thinks the boys play after the girls because they bring a larger crowd, but she believes it is sexist. The varsity cheer team also cheers for the boys, and the junior varsity cheer team cheers for the girls. She said her best games are when there is a large student section supporting her team, a large element of the home field advantage.

“I hate the feeling of it, walking in knowing no one is at our game, our cheerleaders are brand-new,” Parker said.

“You practice every day, the same amount as the boys, sometimes more, and they get so much more recognition for everything.”

Athletic Director Dennis Davis said he doesn’t know why the JV cheers for girls basketball, but the girls play before because the league sets the schedule. He said in the past when the girls played after the boys, there would be a large student section that would leave when the boys’ game was over.

Davis said at some girls games, there isn’t even a large enough crowd to total only the parents of the players.

Blair said he thinks more people come to support the boys because they are different games. He said the girls’ game is slower-paced and played below the rim of the basket, but a more pure form of basketball, more focused on executing plays.

Davis said the teams that draw the largest crowds are football, boys basketball and sometimes girls volleyball. “Our culture glorifies football and basketball,” Davis said, “so for us to change that, we’d have to change the culture.”

Blair said it would absolutely help to have a bigger crowd at the girls’ games. The more you win the more support you get, he said, and because the boys have a better-built fan base, it is up to his team to be successful this year for people to come watch them play.

Coaches and players are stumped over how to bring a larger crowd to games. Davis said they have tried offering raffle tickets for prizes and free giveaways, but nothing has worked.

Parker said a lot of people come to the girls game to get to the gym early for the boys game, but the students sit down and don’t cheer. She said when people cheer for her team, the players feed off of their energy and play better.

“The boys can be losing by 20, and everyone’s still standing and cheering for everything they do,” Parker said. “It has to be a tied, super exciting game just for people to even stand up for our games.”