Our women athletes deserve better

Graphic honoring USC women's athletics programs.
(Blake Pak | Daily Trojan)

The USC men’s football team went 4-8 last season after an initial home win against San José State, followed by defeat after defeat. Yet, attendance didn’t seem to wane throughout the course of the home games, with the number of spectators rarely dipping below 50,000, even when these games lasted almost four hours. 

The USC men’s basketball team, on the other hand, fared much better than its helmet-donning counterparts. 

With an initial winning streak of 13-0,  a loss at Stanford in early January turned the tide. Although USC ended up entering the NCAA tournament as a No. 7 seed, they were knocked out in the first round against Miami. 

Attendance in December sat at a meager 2,000 to 4,000. However, as our successes as a team began to ramp-up, attendance managed to reach the likes of 10,000 to 13,000 — a record-high student section was even recorded at the game against UCLA.

As important as it is for students to go out and support their athletes, there comes a point where discrepancies in attendance start to become painfully obvious. 

As of right now, the USC women’s beach volleyball team has an incredible record of 15-1. Yet, very few, if any, students seem to be aware. Similarly, the school does little to nothing to promote the team. For the football, basketball and even baseball teams, posters and banners were propped up along Jefferson. For the women, there’s little to nothing.

There’s a similar story for women’s lacrosse. The Trojans have gone 7-2 so far this season and the attendance for these games is extremely disheartening. And, once again, there’s little to no promotion from the school. 

However, rather than strictly analyzing the attendance of these games, there’s quite a bit of telling from Trojan Fever — the organization responsible for updating, promoting and incentivizing students to attend various sporting events — and its subsequent app.

One of Trojan Fever’s key features is the ability to garner points for attending games, and later being able to exchange those points for prizes such as T-shirts and jerseys. Men’s basketball games were always worth 200 during the season. Everything else is worth 300 points. The organization assumed, correctly, that more students would attend the men’s games rather than the women’s, and subsequently incentivized those predictably less popular games more.

This is not a uniquely USC trend. According to NPR, “The NCAA spends more on male athletes than female ones on average” because there has always been more emphasis and importance placed on men in sports, even when there’s a women counterpart that may perform just as well or better.

The reason attendance remained so consistent for football games is because USC has historically been known as a football school, and rightfully so. The school boasts 25 Rose Bowl championship wins, with the second-best school, Ohio State, trailing at 9.

How many would be aware that USC is also known for its women’s beach volleyball? Last year our record went 30-4. What about women’s water polo? USC athletes won five medals at the Tokyo Olympics with 10 Trojans competing on the team. The school is internationally acclaimed for these two sports, but USC has not even attempted to brand themselves as a “beach volleyball” or “water polo” school.

After a few good seasons USC was more than ready to jump on the “basketball school” name tag. Where’s the same energy for our female  athletes?

This isn’t just a branding problem, it’s a student problem. As unfortunate as it is, the school will only place effort into promoting their female athletes if they see that students respond well. So it’s time to start supporting all Trojans, regardless of gender.