The SMU women’s basketball team just finished its season tied for fifth in the American Athletic Conference. Even so, the team does not see nearly as many fans in the stands as the men’s basketball team does.
McKenzie Adams, Women’s basketballer, wishes this weren’t the case. On a typical game night, Moody Coliseum is filled with a few familiar faces, but not nearly as many as the women would like to see.
“A lot of the times most of the people we see in the stands are close friends or family which is great, but it is always good to see more faces in the stands,” Adams said.
It’s no secret that men’s sports are more popular than women’s. The SMU women’s basketball team struggles, like any other school, to raise attendance numbers. In the 2015-2016 season, the women’s basketball team averaged 945 attendants per game. Meanwhile, the men averaged 6,800 fans at each home game.
Jarrey Foster of the SMU men’s basketball team, attends every women’s basketball game that he can. He thinks they’re fun to watch.
“Their program is something to be looking out for in the next couple of years,” Foster said.
Under new head coach Travis Mays, the team has maintained a competitive 16-13 record (7-9 in the AAC). But would they perform better if they saw more fans at their home games? The women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut – ranked No. 1 in the nation – sees more than 10,000 fans at each home game. Post-game interviews often feature athletes crediting the fans for giving them a psychological edge. Writers and commentators often suggest that a team performed better than it should have due to the support from its fans.
It’s impossible to know if a bigger audience would lead to more wins, but Adams said that the women have to work harder at cheering each other on and keeping up their spirits to make up for disappointing audience turnouts.
“I think it is hard a lot of the time because we don’t have the same fortune as the boys because they have big crowds that bring them energy and excitement, whereas we kind of have to bring our own energy and feed off each other,” Adams said.
Coach Mays knows this and is working diligently to improve attendance and provide the atmosphere that the team deserves. He tweets to his followers to come to the games, always including his personal hashtag for the team: #BEaMAYSn. But getting people into Moody takes more than Twitter updates.
Attendance increased by 300 people at the February game against the University of Central Florida. The sudden popularity may have had something to do with the free all-sports clinic following the game for girls 8th grade and under, and boys 6th grade and under. Whatever the case, the girls loved having the young fans.
“We absolutely love when younger people come to our games because they bring so much energy and genuinely look up to us,” Adams said. “One of the best parts about that is getting to interact with them after the games.”
While sometimes the women might be discouraged they don’t get the crowds that the men see, the basketball teams support one another.
“Here in Crum basketball center, we are supportive of each other,” Foster said. “Any chance that we get to watch a women’s game, we are there.”