Lady Warriors want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Women’s basketball and the effect of public opinion

Katie Morrison

Some sports aren’t fun to watch—like curling. Curling is an Olympic event where athletes slide stones across a long strip of ice. It’s hardly scintillating. Now take a look at women’s basketball. WNBA games average just 413,000 viewers, compared to 1.46 million viewers for NBA games. That’s over 1 million viewers who just aren’t interested in women’s basketball, even at a professional level. How does the women’s basketball team at Union College even stand a chance?

The Lady Warriors have received quite a bit of grief in past years, especially from their own school. One new Warrior recalls a friend’s reaction when she announced her decision to join the team. “Immediately I was told to prepare to lose,” she said.

While the Warriors might not win every game by twenty points, their record was modest last year, winning 7 games during the season and having half a dozen games within 5 points. This is nothing to be ashamed of. As Lady Warriors, it is also their privilege to meet girls they never would otherwise. They develop lifelong friendships with these teammates. This camaraderie then translates into chemistry on the court. Warriors put hours and hours of time into the sport, all because of their love and commitment to each other. But instead of being celebrated, or at least supported, by their school, the Lady Warriors have games starting without fans in the stands.

Another area of contention for the women’s team is an inconsistent practice space. With all the different teams on campus, it can be tricky to coordinate times when each team can practice in the Thunderdome. Gymnastics and men’s basketball both practice four times a week for almost two hours each night. As a result, the women’s team often doesn’t know where the next practice will take place. One week, the team travelled to three different gyms just to get practice time in.

Last year, due to conflicting obligations, the Lady Warriors found themselves practicing at 5:30 am every Friday morning. This example represents a more introspective issue the team faces: lack of respect.

The cumulative attitude on campus towards the basketball program is apathetic at best. Even Union graduates understand the Lady Warriors’ plight. “They get no respect!” says Jared Henry, who graduated last May. It’s more frequent to hear students talking negatively about the team’s lack of talent or disrespecting coaching staff. Overall, Union College’s campus has trouble supporting one another.

This attitude leaks into how the players on the team interact with each other. Because of the supposed unimportance of the team, the players find it acceptable to skip practice. More often than not, the team will practice with about six players. With a team of only eight women, every teammate counts.

Freshman Warrior, Allison McCarthy, says it all comes down to respect. “People respect gymnastics more because they get the gym. Certain alumni respect the boys’ team so they get new shoes every year. People are continuously negative to us,” she says, “and I don’t think it’s wrong to want more respect from Union College as a whole. Whether it be from other students, other sports teams, or whoever, if we were treated positively, none of these things would be a problem.”

Supporting each other in all things, showing a Christian spirit and uplifting each other in voice can alleviate so much tension. “We know not everyone can make the games all the time,” says Lyndsey Cowin, newly elected captain of the Lady Warriors, “but we really do appreciate it when students come and show support. Let’s have more positivity and more Union fans than visiting fans this year!”

Katie is a junior studying business administration.