by Grace Fiorella, Copy Editor, October 2021
“Boys sports are more interesting to watch.” Everyone has heard this single phrase. Historically, men’s sports attract more attention, fans, and praise than women’s. This can be seen in professional games and at the high-school level, whether in comparing the fanbase of the NBA and the WNBA, or participating in a Saturday game day at Nobles.
The student body gravitates towards the boys sports. On game day, the fan bases are drastically different between the two genders. However, girls sports tend to succeed more. Since 2015, the girls teams have won 28 of 32 non-co-ed Independent School League (ISL) titles and 11 out of the 13 New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) titles. Yet, the attitude towards their success is contradictory. The recognition that they deserve is often overlooked.
“At Nobles, girls sports tend to be more successful than boys, which is interesting because nobody really acknowledges that,” Abigail Roberts (Class I) said. She added, “When you think of professional sports, you always think of boys sports and at Nobles that trickles down. Everybody always talks about the boys sports teams and not the girls.”
The biggest contradiction every year is the Boys Varsity Hockey Team and Girls Varsity Team. In 2020, the boys team went 14-2-4, and the girls went 26-1-0. The hockey girls are known to dominate both the ISL and NEPSAC. They get few fans, but the boys games are packed.
“There is definitely favoritism towards boys sports. I remember my sophomore year there was a costume party for the boys hockey game. Everyone packed that game and right as it ended, nobody stayed to watch ours,” Emmy O’Leary (Class I) said. She continued, “It felt a little disappointing because I know most people don’t want to watch girls sports, but it felt bad to see everyone walk away.”
Society views boys sports as superior in skill level. The school shares these views. “The attitude is more positive towards boys sports because of the physicality in the sport. Students think female sports are less physical, not as intense, and slower-paced,” Brian Grant (Class II) said. He participates on the Boys Varsity Hockey team and notices the disparity among fans based on gender. “I think it’s unfair that people judge the athletes based on those reasons because all of them put in the same amount of effort,” Grant said.
The respect is there. Although female athletes might feel like they don’t get the recognition they deserve at school, the admiration of their athletic abilities does not go unnoticed. “Our boys really respect the level to which our girls play and succeed at. I think it is humbling for them,” Director of Athletics Alex Gallagher (N ‘90) said. Roberts shares the same view. “The girls teams are respected on campus. Nobody disregards certain sports teams because they’re one gender or the other. If you play on a varsity sport, you’re respected no matter what team it is,” Roberts said.
Despite this, the stereotypical views of society still influence the community. “The places where the disrespect comes out are when girls are pushing boys for higher-level attendance at their games. They want the support, and suddenly you hear statements from boys about ‘watching girls basketball isn’t as fun as watching boys basketball.’ The reality of what they are saying is the societal view,” Gallagher said.
In addition, attendance is low at the girls games just because they are expected to win. “A lot of our boys simply just assume the girls are going to win, which in truth isn’t the case,” Gallagher said. The underdog game is more thrilling to the viewer. “Watching the boys is more fun because the girls are so dominant that they win every single game which isn’t as entertaining,” Roberts adds.
There has been progress in bridging the gap in attendance. The Athletic Department works hard to make sure every team feels like they get the same treatment. In the past years, the Athletic Department has built schedules that give both girls and boys sports prime-time games. In the past, the boys had more accessible game times. In addition, they maintain agender balance during Friday Night Lights (FNL). “I think there is the same hype for the boys and girls games during FNL,” Katie Cheung (Class II) said. The department is also working on ways to attract more attendance for winter games by organizing service opportunities. Every game, regardless of gender or level, is broadcast on the official Nobles’ Athletics Twitter and guaranteed the same treatment.
Before a big event, a representative of Dawg Pound—a club that encourages students to attend games, galleries, and shows—will go up during assembly and rouse attendance for games. “In general, the attitude of girls versus boys sports comes a lot from the student leaders. DawgPound had a ton of sway for the games they promoted. If Dawg Pound can promote the games to the same level it will be beneficial,” Cheung said.
Attendance based on gender should not be a competition. “A huge part of this is there are lots of times where it ends up being a tug-of-war between girls and boys. What we need to do instead is support all of our teams, the better our teams do,” Gallagher said. He continued, “Any athlete who complains about people not coming to their games, I really hope they are going to other people’s games.” “I think it’s good for people to show up to all games because people are working hard,” O’Leary added.
At the end of the day, the community should be showing up and supporting each other. No matter the gender, speed of play, or titles, fans need to do their part and attend all games.