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By the Book

by Archives November 23, 2005

I was watching ‘Beyond the Glory’ on Sportsnet, a look at sports and sexuality, and one of the facts it touched on was, obviously, the difference between men’s and women’s sports. Without getting bogged down in the details, they were basically saying that it is alright for men and women to showcase their bodies (clothed or unclothed) to better their sport. I agree with that somewhat because it has been done forever, and it does help athletes, and women especially, to draw attention to their sport. If they want to do it, where’s the harm?

However, one thing I don’t understand is the enormous difference in attendance and ratings between men’s and women’s sporting events. Well, I shouldn’t say that I don’t understand it, because I do at a professional level. The NBA is more popular than the WNBA, the NHL is more popular than the WNHL and the PGA tour is more popular than the LPGA tour. Women’s professional sports leagues are a relatively new phenomenon and they will take time to grow and become more popular. I don’t understand the poor treatment that the women’s sport teams at Concordia are getting, along with why nobody goes to the games in the first place.

The difference in attendance between men’s and women’s games at Concordia, and University sporting events as a whole, is considerable. Why is that? I have to admit, if I wasn’t a journalist, I probably would never have stepped into the Ed Meagher Arena to watch a women’s hockey game, but when I walked into the first game of the Theresa Humes Invitational Tournament last January, I was immediately hooked. There was no NHL, I hadn’t seen a live hockey game since the World Cup that September, but what I saw was some great hockey. There was no body checking, but I didn’t miss it at all, and the players were very, very skilled. It was almost surreal watching a four-foot-eleven Dominique Rancour make her way around defenders at will to create a scoring chance, and the team was good. Every game I went to between that first game and the end of the regular season, they won. The only thing is, no one noticed how good the team was. The Concordian focused quite a bit on the team and they made the cover several times, but at several of those games I was one of the only students there. The rest were friends and family. Men’s games, however, had a lot more people. Students showed up, along with Concordia supporters and interested people around the arena. I’m not saying that the men’s team doesn’t deserve the support, because they definitely do. I’m just wondering why the women don’t get similar support.

I think the media did an admirable job of covering women’s hockey last year. The Gazette ran profiles of Rancour and goaltender Cecilia Anderson, and Stephanie Myles was present at the National Championships that were held at McGill. Paul Graif of Global TV was also present at the Nationals and CFCF was at all three of the semi-final games between McGill and Concordia. I also had the pleasure of talking with then Link reporter Craig Anderson, who covered the team for them. At the press conference before the National Championships, the Journal de Montreal and Canadian Press were talking to players as well. TSN would have shown the final of the Nationals, if it wasn’t for their obligation to show the women’s basketball final at the same time.

It was really and truly nice for me to see the team I followed at Concordia get some much-deserved attention in Montreal and throughout Canada.

This men/women situation is something that doesn’t just affect hockey. As few people as go to men’s rugby games, attendance at women’s rugby games is even worse. And when I was at McGill last year for a basketball double header, the women’s game saw the gym barely one quarter full, but when the men’s game was about to start, there was barely a seat to be had.

The CIS doesn’t keep track of seperate attendance between men’s and women’s games in doubleheaders so exact numbers are not available.

I don’t know how to fix the problem, but maybe people just have to see how skilled these athletes are. I understand that women’s hockey doesn’t have body checking and that slam dunks are few and far between when it comes to women’s basketball, but until you watch a game, you can’t really make a fair judgment. The McGill Martlets hockey and basketball teams are coming to Concordia this weekend. I challenge all of you reading to come out and cheer on the Stingers against our cross-town rival. Come down to Loyola and scream at the top of your lungs because the rivalry between the red-and-white and maroon-and-gold is the same no matter who is wearing the uniform.

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