Girls sports DO make money

Contrary to popular belief, a new article in the NYTimes highlights a trend among youth sporting events–girls events tend to draw more crowds and bring in more revenue than boys events.
The article is comparing traveling teams and tournament sporting events, where a number of groups noted that girl’s event were more likely to draw parents (and therefore revenue) then boys sports.

As the popularity of youth tournaments has intensified over the past decade, a peculiar trend has emerged: girls’ sporting events tend to attract more relatives and generate more revenue for tourism than similar events for boys. And that is drawing increased attention from economic development officials.

Although Schumacher said he and others did not keep statistics on the economic impact of girls’ sporting events, many of his 500 members nationwide have reported anecdotally that such events are often more lucrative than those for boys. He and others mentioned several possible reasons, including a tendency among parents to be more protective of daughters; a heightened interest in girls’ sports; and the increased attendance of mothers at games.

I hope this will inspire more investment in girls sports.

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21 Comments

  1. DeafBrownTrash
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    this is very good news, but I am curious, which sports for girls are the biggest draw for crowds to attend? My guess is probably soccer, but I’m not sure.

  2. bukowski
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    there are two different dynamics at play for youth sports and sports on the professional (read: money making level) that prevent girls sports from getting too much investment.
    youth sports are more about the youths. and since this culture lifts everything that is feminine over anything that is masculine, it makes sense that female youths get more attention on the soccer field and basketball court than boys.
    but when people are paying to see competitive sports, they’d prefer to watch men since men’s sports feature the best of the best going head-to-head.

  3. Brandi
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    youth sports are more about the youths. and since this culture lifts everything that is feminine over anything that is masculine, it makes sense that female youths get more attention on the soccer field and basketball court than boys.
    I’m not sure I understand the argument. Are you saying that soccer and basketball are somehow more “feminine” or that we (as a culture) revere femininity more than masculinity?

  4. Brandi
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    So many thoughts here…
    I wanted to read the NYT article and feel pumped. Alas, I didn’t.
    First, it makes me feel sorry for the boys that the reason their tournies don’t make the money is that their families – even their parents! – don’t go to see them play. That’s really sad. I cannot imagine not devoting myself equally to my children and their activities.
    Second, I’m sure Erik Grant’s comment has some merit and wished it’d been a bigger focus. The traditional sports culture is all-work, no-play at the high school level. Because the expectation of girls playing sports isn’t as all-consuming, there’s more time for leisure.
    Third, sexism by and large seems to be the reason. The Grant mother said she would allow her 19YO son to go away for 20 days without her but not her 17YO daughter. I find that problematic. Her daughter’s responsible and mature enough to excel in a competitive sport, yet Mom can’t let her go on a road trip with adult supervision because she’s a girl.
    These youth tournies are making money for the local economy, not the sports team. I think when most people, myself included, talk about the lack of money-making for girls/women’s sports, we’re talking about money for the teams first and the local economy second. At the collegiate level, (American) football often is the only sport to make signifiant money. I know at Georgia, students had to pay for tickets to see football & men’s basketball only. Everything else was free for students, and attendance was still low.
    I’m all for promoting girls’ sports, and I’m glad cities like Chattanooga can see the benefit of having top-notch facilities for girls and that the city will be able to benefit financially from it. I’m just not sure the gist of the article was what I was hoping to see – that girls’ sports are making more money because people are genuinely interested in the sporting event.

  5. TD
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think he was suggesting that society is more interested in their daughters then their sons and these boils over into parents and families attending one event over the other. But that this effect is not at play when it comes to watching strangers compete.
    It would fit with my experiences.

  6. TD
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    yet Mom can’t let her go on a road trip with adult supervision because she’s a girl.
    I’d take a different interpretation, that the family simply views their sons as more expendable and less worthy of concern. While it suggests the sons have more freedom it also suggests that their family isn’t really as worried if something were to happen to them.

  7. electrictoaster
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The guy’s just an MRA/PUA/misogynist/troll. Check out his totally awesome blog:
    ‘Women aren’t funny. Just ask anybody (besides women). Humor and oppression are strongly correlated. Oppression leads to a sense of irony and keen insight about human nature and life in general… And nobody is less at the bottom of the social heap than women.’
    ‘The “Community” section over at feministing.com provides more laughs than The Onion. A couple of pieces written by deluded feminazis in the past week or so really caught my eye.’
    ‘Feminists miss the point in their rants about “rape culture”. It’s the women who cry rape trying to extort the system and an often high-profile man that decrease the effectiveness and shock of real rape victims cries for help.’
    ‘The harpies at Feministing.com are, no surprise, all over the [Serena Williams Center Court] story with calls about its sexism and racism. My response on their comment board was something to the effect of “isn’t this looksism instead of racism or sexism?” I won’t even tackle the race issue because this has nothing to do with that. In fact, many guys, myself included, think Serena Williams is bangin”

  8. A male
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I strongly doubt this has anything to do with the men as expendable argument, and agree it has to do with the girls need supervision argument.
    In addition, this article only mentions “relatives” turning out to watch girls’ events. How about the turnout of men who want to watch young women as opposed to young men? You know, the kind of men who like gymnasts, figure skaters, and the like, some to the extent of taking photos of complete strangers and publishing them in magazines or posting them online.

  9. bukowski
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    This comment has been deleted because it violates our comment policy.

  10. Gopher
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m happy someone caught that. The ending on his first post gave me pause. He was saying that men are the best of the best physically so therefore audiences want to watch the best of the best competing not those whom arent (ie, women).

  11. DownAtTheDinghy
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    This is great to see! In high school, I lived in a semi-rural area and the population of the middle school/high school was about 700. We didn’t have a lot of funding for sports or fine arts programs.
    I had played soccer from kindergarten to the day I entered high school, yet there was not a girl’s team at my high school, so girl’s played on the boy’s team, and surprise surprise, never got play time. We had to fight with our school to allow a girl’s soccer team to come into formation. Our school was terrified that it would be an enormous waste of money, time, and resources to fund a girl’s team so their stipulation was this: year one, you are a “club”, if you do well, we might consider a JV team, and if a JV team does well, it might be possible to have a varsity team.
    Well, the first year, we killed the schools around us. But we went without funding for uniforms or anything else. We eventually did become a varsity and got our own new uniforms, bags, and warm ups, but they were cheap and we were a winning team that brought in audiences, even though our tragedy of a football team got most of the funding.
    Long story short, I feel for girl’s sports and I’m so glad they are getting the attention they deserve. Girls can be just as talented and aggressive as boys; our team frequently got compliments on what “a pleasure to watch” we were.
    Get it, girls!

  12. Steveo
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand why this article was even written. Secondly, why anyone would find the need to comment on it. Anecdotal evidence is not real evidence. The only question one should ask at the point of the anecdotal evidence is “is this real?” and then a real study should be done. Trying to figure out why girls events are more (or less or equally) attended then comparable boys events is secondary to finding out what situation is ACTUALLY true. Since there is not actual data there are many many reasons which could explain this anecdotal evidence. It could be people expecting better attendance at boys events and selectively remembering a few events where their expectations were violated. It could be people comparing events with different sports that have some difference in parental involvement unrelated to gender, or plenty of other situations that I can’t even think of. The point is, drawing conclusions based on very poor information is pointless!
    Despite my annoyance at the lack of actual evidence about this ‘observation’ on attendance, I also hope there is more investment in girls sports. Girls should have the same access to playing all sports as boys do, and even boys should have better access to sports. To often children are excluded from sports because they are not one of the handful of good players. Its all around a very sad situation.

  13. TD
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I strongly doubt this has anything to do with the men as expendable argument, and agree it has to do with the girls need supervision argument.
    Except in my experience girls are usually considered more trustworthy, reliable, well behaved, mature, etc. This is sometimes pretty far off the mark they I find it hard to believe its a lack of trust when in every other circumstance there seems to be a great deal more trust placed in girls.
    In addition, this article only mentions “relatives” turning out to watch girls’ events. How about the turnout of men who want to watch young women as opposed to young men? You know, the kind of men who like gymnasts, figure skaters, and the like,
    Having been to many sporting events in my High School Career, I have never seen anyone like that. It was pretty much simply coaches, team members, parents and relatives, and in some cases recruiters for university, or other friends from school. This was my experience even in what would have otherwise been a fairly crowded area.
    An alternate explanation which I would concede would be that girls are probably more likely to actively encourage their parents to come.

  14. TD
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    supposed to be a response to A Male

  15. A male
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    “Except in my experience girls are usually considered more trustworthy, reliable, well behaved, mature, etc. ”
    You don’t see “yet Mom can’t let her go on a road trip with adult supervision because she’s a girl” or other ways people are protective of young women?
    “Having been to many sporting events in my High School Career, I have never seen anyone like that.”
    And that’s you. So how do you explain the abundance of upskirt angle photos of female gymnast/figure skater etc., but not the men? How do you explain when the Olympics come on that it is claimed female gymnastics and female figure skating are the biggest events?
    Do you actually need links?

  16. rhowan
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    “Except in my experience girls are usually considered more trustworthy, reliable, well behaved, mature, etc. This is sometimes pretty far off the mark they I find it hard to believe its a lack of trust when in every other circumstance there seems to be a great deal more trust placed in girls.”
    I think often people trust their daughters (as much as or as you say more than their sons), it’s other people they don’t trust. People will let their sons do things they wouldn’t let their daughters do, not because the sons are seen as more trustworthy, but because they have less expectation that someone might try to harm or take advantage of their son.
    Example: I had a friend whose parents let him go to all night alcohol-fueled beach parties when he was 16. They openly admitted that if he had been a girl they would never have let him go.

  17. bukowski's back
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    i’m just curious, why was my comment deleted, and why am i being censured?
    i’m no troll. *i* think i’m bringing up valid points…if this isn’t a forum to discuss topics pertaining to feminism and its place in the world, then i guess maybe i should move on. i figured though, that if you all were so comfortable in your beliefs that you’d be able to point/counterpoint instead of muting my voice.
    now, i know this website isn’t necessarily a “free speech zone” in that you all have the right to banish me if you want, but why not keep in the spirit of the Constitution and our democracy that supports freedom of speech.
    i’m not sitting here hurling insults and ad hominem attacks. i’m just trying to provide a semi-dissenting voice so that we don’t all fall into groupthink and such. what’s so wrong with that?

  18. TD
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    And that’s you. So how do you explain the abundance of upskirt angle photos of female gymnast/figure skater etc., but not the men?
    Again I’d hardly call these abundant, but I never did gymnastics or similar sports so I can’t testify to those sports. That said if it did happen, other students would be far more likely culprits. In every sporting event I’ve been to the teams tended to stay together very closely, there was an area of strictly athletes and the area was pretty closely watched (more due to a fear that something might happen to our equipment or stuff, then a fear of anything happening to the athletes)
    You don’t see “yet Mom can’t let her go on a road trip with adult supervision because she’s a girl” or other ways people are protective of young women?
    I see the protective angle, I do not see it stemming primarily from a distrust of the girls, or a negative view towards the girls. I’d say it was a case that even sexist beliefs which appear positive towards someone can be harmful.

  19. TD
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I can see that as a factor. Certainly some parents are far more worried about teenage sex for their daughters then their sons (although I believe that’s beginning to balance out, for the wrong reasons however)
    Yet the responses I was exposed to in my adolescence to a tragedy involving a teenage boy tended to revolve around the stupidity of the boy. Responses to a tragedy involving a teenage girl tend to focus on the tragic nature of the incident. So while I think that the fear of other people is certainly present in the concern for girls, I’m not sure if it is the only factor at play.

  20. A male
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    “I see the protective angle, I do not see it stemming primarily from a distrust of the girls, or a negative view towards the girls. I’d say it was a case that even sexist beliefs which appear positive towards someone can be harmful.”
    That’s exactly what I meant. The patriarchial or chivalrous view that the players would need supervision or protection because they happen to be young women.

  21. proudfeminist
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    When people made that statement, I think they meant to say girls sports do not make the millions and millions of dollars football American football and Basketball does.
    But just like men archery or lacross teams exist despite not racking up millions of dollars, female basketball teams or any other teams should get a break as well.
    I do not get why female basketball is criticized. Why not criticize male archery ? I doubt those events get more attention than the WNBA.

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