Special thanks to Leslie Loper and Jo Ito for compiling these! These pictures were brought together to celebrate National Women in Sports Day! in 2016, the athletic department put together a breakfast event before classes for students and faculty to celebrate their participation in athletics! Women of all ages came together, current athletes perhaps wearing their jerseys, and talked about their love for sports. Enjoy the photos!
As a part of the end of my project, I presented to groups of both third and fifth graders. My presentation was about 20 minutes long and I aimed to promote discussion about sexism in athletics. I started by trying to get the kids warmed up, asking them to share out what sports they play. After, I talked about some awesome alum and current students that I talked to! All around the board, the kids I talked to seemed most impressed when I told them that Eleanor Hulse (’18) had a PR of 5’2″, and that the record was 5’3″ by Elise Wilcox (’11), then stood up and showed them where that hit on me. Kids would shout, “Woah!” or their mouths would drop and their eyes widen. That was awesome! After that, I brought it to the meat of my presentation – talking about sexism in sports. I first asked them, “What are some examples of times where you’ve been underestimated because you’re a girl, or if you’re a boy some times you’ve noticed that happen?” With the third grade, this section was harder to get participation
from the kids. The first group, I just asked them to share out loud, and two girls were willing to talk. But when I asked the next group to turn to a partner and talked, they were much more willing to share out after. The boys still seemed pretty engaged at this point. The third grade girls surprised me a bit in the sorts of things they noticed. Most of the comments seemed to be along the lines of, “A boy told me he bet I couldn’t do something but then I showed him!” One comment a girl made talked about how, on her ski team, the boys seemed to almost always get the front positions on their lines. That’s more nuanced than the comments boys tend to make!
When I talked to the fifth grade, the boys seemed less engaged. The girls, however, were incredibly excited to talk about these sorts of things! I had awesome discussions with some passionate girls about the struggles they’ve gone through as girls in their sports, ranging from boys not passing to them, to boys telling them that they “kick like a girl,” all the way to talking about how society doesn’t always tell us these things directly. How society implies that girls are worse at sports. While I was presenting, I got so excited about this discussion because I know how important talking about these things is! My groups were very engaged and so confident in sharing, which I really appreciate! I continued by starting a discussion on the ways we can work to combat these sorts of situations, so everyone can have equal opportunities to play sports, and finished with the reasons we love playing our sports. Even as I was packing up, I heard two girls heading over to Tami H., the P.E. teacher, still talking about the ways they wish sports were more equal. I really hope the discussion continues to exist as they finish the year and grow up!
The NBA and WNBA are vastly different. The rule differences are small and the WNBA rules are slowly being changed to meet the NBA rules, like the shot clock or the three-point line
distance. But the way each league is regarded and treated by the public is unfairly different. Most of this stems from the attention each league gets, which determines the revenue of the league. The NBA makes a LOT of money. In the 2016-2017 season, the league brought in $5.9 billion, according to Forbes. The average NBA salary is about $6.2 million. The WNBA’s is $75,000. WNBA total revenue isn’t readily available but can be estimated. With 139 players each paid on average $75,000, the total money paid to players is $10,425,000. Since the WNBA pays their players less than 25% of the total revenue, the league is making at least $41.7 million. That’s a tiny fraction of what the NBA makes. Not only is the individual salary of the WNBA minuscule compared to the NBA, it’s just not the same percentage of the league revenue.
Diana Taurasi – a 12-year WNBA vet, a WNBA champ, and Finals MVP – was paid by an international league a little over a million not to play in the WNBA so that she could be ready to play for them. She didn’t play in her 2015 season. Instead she played for UMMC – her Russian club team. Pay is a real problem when other teams can pay your own athletes to not participate, especially as significant an athlete as Taurasi.
Finding an easy solution for this whole thing is hard because the general public just doesn’t care that much about women’s basketball. In terms of game attendance, the WNBA doesn’t get that many fans on average. Because of this, a lot of the teams aren’t very profitable. WNBA games are more seen as family entertainment. NBA is the “real deal.” A-list celebrities go to NBA games. Elementary school children go to WNBA games. At NBA games, you see full stadiums, and people like Beyonce and Drake. At WNBA games, you see toddlers playing with the mascot, and only a fraction of the stadiums full. It’s just not the same.
The NBA players have historically vocally supported WNBA players. During the finals, well-known NBA athletes energetically tweeted about how the championship game was a super exciting watch. Before the 2017 season, the WNBA launched an advertisement campaign called “Watch Me Work” (See it here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN6fkuBzi2I). The commercials featured star athletes putting in an incredible amount of work to prepare for the season, sweating. shooting, and played highlights from the previous season. That ad campaign made them look real and tough, because they are! There was one commercial that featured a young girl watching the WNBA, inspired, as the athletes commentate on how they “didn’t know” they would become all-stars. Basketball is an intense sport and to be a professional level athlete takes a whole lot of dedication. Women were portrayed as strong. I love that! It’s so important to teach that to young girls as soon as possible because everything else in their life is going to tell them the opposite.
On June 23, 1972, Title IX was implemented as law. The text states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” After that, girls had to be given the same opportunities as guys, and this includes athletic opportunities. Yet in many schools didn’t give their girls’ teams the same status as the boys’ teams. When the girls’ teams were first established, schools preferred cheap options over quality. Some schools in Washington bought one set of uniforms for all the girls’ teams. Sometimes there would not be enough uniforms for the JV and Varsity teams and they would have to trade off on game nights. Some schools even gave out numbered pennies. Instead of trained coaches, inexperienced administration were encouraged to coach the girls teams while actual coaches were hired for the boys’ teams. Girls teams didn’t get prime time for games and just had fewer games scheduled. Officials weren’t excited about reffing girls games. Yet in 1974, just two years after Title IX, Washington had its first state tournament as a 16-team invitational tournament.
Summary of “Remembering the B: The History of the Washington State “B” Basketball Tournament” by Jim Stinson