Why is there an Attendance Gap in Men’s and Women’s Sporting Events?


Women’s soccer, basketball, swimming, cross-country and lacrosse have seen success: winning records, playoff runs, state tournament runs, and a state championship. But they fall short when it comes to attendance.

The discrepancy in fan turn out is not limited to our community, but is prevalent among professional sports, too.

Provided by ussoccer.com

Even with winning the women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team drew 25,906 fans on average while the U.S. Men’s National Team drew 32,606 according to ussoccer.com. The smaller draw to women’s games could be due to perception.

“There are multiple factors that affect attendance on a high school level including the style of game between boys and girls as well as the night games are played,” said athletic director Mr. Nerl.

Former varsity basketball and baseball athlete Brad Westmeyer (class of 18’) and senior varsity lacrosse players Holly Byers and Emma Kuwatch all agreed on the physicality of the game factoring into attendance. Byers and Kuwatch added women’s lacrosse games are “less contact and more fouls” making it “less fun to watch.”

A packed stands at the boy’s lacrosse game vs DeSalles in the State Semifinals. (PHOTO BY SPOONER)

“For example with boys and girls lacrosse, some guy makes a big hit on a dude. And everyone goes crazy, and they talk about it the next day at school. You can’t really do that in girls lacrosse––that could be a little bit of a factor,” Westmeyer added.

Senior Kyleigh Spang, varsity starter for the women’s soccer team, agreed, “The fact that it’s just a girls game contributes to the attendance gap. It’s not as ‘intense.’”

Promotion and coverage of the sports can be another factor.

J.P. Normille, junior and varsity football player said, “Football has Skyline Chili Nights sponsored by them. What girl sport has that? What girl’s sports has sponsorships?”

“Getting into society’s mainstream is difficult,” said Nerl speaking about women’s sports in today’s culture. The athletic director explained it is especially difficult to get into students’ lives.  “If they’re not playing a sport they’re working and if they’re not working they’re studying,” he added.

Open seats can be seen at the girl’s State Championship game vs Chagrin Falls. (PHOTO BY SPOONER)

According to Nerl, getting into the community’s mainstream is easier because news spreads by word of mouth and social media in Mariemont. Sporting events are “community events,” where family and friends come together the athletic director added.

Despite the ease of sports finding their way into mainstream culture, junior Will Stutenroth, a varsity soccer and lacrosse player said, “I think it comes down to personal preference: depending on the sport you like to watch and whether you like to watch boys or girls more.”

“It may just be the culture we live in,” said Westmeyer, “It’s unfortunate but I think it’s the way it is.”