Male sports have always received more attention and drawn bigger crowds than their female counterparts. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it continues to be.
This season of Binghamton University basketball has started out no differently. Seats in the Events Center consistently remain vacant for women’s games but are suddenly filled the following night when the men take the floor.
Allow me to start out by saying that before this season, I would be the first person to say I’d rather head to an NBA game than one from the WNBA. The style of play in the former is completely different from that of the latter. There’s no arguing that.
Amar’e Stoudemire’s dunks will always be more exciting to watch than any WNBA player’s pump-fake and uncontested drive to the basket for a layup, and the same is true for the Binghamton equivalent. Who wouldn’t rather see Greer Wright slam one home than Andrea Holmes sink a 15-foot jumper? I’m confident most would agree.
This isn’t to say that the Binghamton basketball teams are dependent upon the success of those respective players alone, but the skills of one player can only go so far in a sport so contingent on the team aspect. Just ask LeBron.
Wednesday night’s women’s basketball game against Army was neck-and-neck through the first half of play, after which the visitors led by one. The second half saw game-changing runs by each team leading to a thrilling final five minutes. BU held on for the win by two points in its most exciting win all season.
But only 1,200 fans were on hand to witness it, just 24 hours after more than 4,000 strong showed up to see the men’s team fall to Canisius.
I was assigned to cover Binghamton women’s basketball this year, but before the season kicked off, would I have preferred to cover the men’s team? No doubt about it.
But ask me the same question now and I’ll give you a different answer.
This year’s women’s team is different (and better) than any the school has seen in years.
This year’s team is exactly that: a team, and a great one to watch, too. It plays solid, unselfish basketball and has the players to make a serious run in this year’s America East.
This year’s team also happens to currently be missing its lone senior and veteran in Jackie Ward, who hasn’t played a minute this season as she recovers from ankle surgery.
And this year’s team fields extraordinary role players in sophomore Kara Elofson and freshman Jasbriell Swain who have stepped in brilliantly during Ward’s absence.
While Swain has taken the season’s first two Conference Rookie of the Week awards, junior Andrea Holmes has emerged as the team’s leader and was recently named Player of the Week. She joined Swain in a BU sweep of both America East awards in the second week of the season.
In its last four games, the team has had three players record double-digit point totals. And each of the last three has seen four players tally more than 10.
But what percentage of the Binghamton student body knew that? Probably a small one.
And what percentage of that same population knows how the men’s team is doing this year? I’d say higher.
More importantly though, do you know anyone who has attended a women’s game this season? Chances are you don’t, and I bet the chances are greater that someone you know has gone to see the likes of Greer Wright or Kyrie Sutton.
Students consistently brave those uncomfortable Events Center bleacher seats in the student section to catch a glimpse of men’s games, but the very same seats rarely draw much more than the BU Pep Band for women’s games.
No, the women’s team doesn’t field players who can dunk, and its games don’t offer the same type of fast-paced, physical action that men’s games do. But both teams put in hours and days of hard work to put a successful product out onto the floor.
Records aside, this year’s women’s team is an extremely hard-working one that is playing a complete style of basketball with great consistency.
Head coach Nicole Scholl has stressed to her team from the first day the importance of defending its home court. With increased fan support at games from the student body, that home court can be made into something our players truly take pride in and a place to which visiting teams dread traveling.
So, Binghamton students, as you head home for winter break, think about the efforts of not only our highly publicized and well-known athletes, but also the ones who don’t get the recognition and support they deserve.
And maybe make a New Year’s resolution to change that.