Friday Night, Ladies Night?
J. C. Tilton
Should girls basketball games be played on Friday and Saturday nights as the boys games currently are? It has been a long standing tradition that boys basketball games are held on Friday and Saturday nights - with an occasional Tuesday game thrown in. Most girls basketball games are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, with an occasional Saturday afternoon game. What are the reason's behind this, can it change, should it change?
The first barrier is the money barrier. Although football generates a lot of revenue, there is an a lot of expenses. To run a quality football program takes assistant coaches, equipment - and yearly maintenance on that equipment, insurance, and so forth. So that sport breaks even. The other sports don't attract enough attendance to pay expenses. This leaves basketball as the sole sport in most schools that generates positive revenue from attendance to a schools athletic budget. At a small school a decrease in revenue can really cause a pinch in all sports, not just basketball. The boys games occupy the prime slots - Friday and Saturday nights, that maximize the revenue for the school.
There are a few exceptions but generally girls games currently are not as well attended as boys games. Probably about a fourth of the attendance of a boys game. So a school may only collect one fourth of the revenue on a Friday night of only girls games. A big school may be able to absorb this loss, but a small school could not.
Another barrier is tradition. I know of a lot of basketball fans that religiously follow their local teams during the season. Are the boys at home this Friday? Let's catch a movie another night, so that I can attend the boys game tonight. Or, I don't really follow the girls games - it's an inferior product. And Athletic Directors have been scheduling their games this way for years. Reserve gym time on Tuesday and Thursdays for girls games, Fridays and Saturdays for boys. Why change now?
Many reply well why not change now. Girls parents pay the same taxes, support the same school, why shouldn't their female athletes be able to showcase their talents on the same featured nights as boys when the most fans can attend? With Title IX, shouldn't girls programs get the same opportunities as boys programs? If they don't get these same opportunities would female athletes and their parents have a case against the school? Don't they work just as hard, put in the same amount of time? Meinking of Dixie shared her opinion on this, “The biggest pro for the girls is people attend their games who wouldn't normally attend. And a lot who do finally attend realize girls games can be just as good as boys games. The kids play hard and with a lot of heart”.
A parent brought up a good point to me. During playoffs the girls play in front of some pretty big crowds. But during the season, they are relegated to mainly Tuesdays and Thursdays and don't play in front of any huge crowds. But even it was just the last two weekends or so of the season, having an opportunity to play in front of a good sized Friday night or Saturday night crowd would help prepare them for a playoff atmosphere.
Now if a compromise solution could be found that wouldn't harm revenue, wouldn't it be fair to implement that compromise?
There are some schools that alternate girls and boys games on Friday and Saturday nights. The girls program would play on a Friday night one week and a Saturday the next. The boys would take the alternate Fridays and Saturdays. But from looking at the finances, this would drastically affect the athletic funds of a school. Although this could be seen as fair, it wouldn't be a good compromise as it will hurt the athletic departments funding. However, there may be a better compromise that would be fair and not impact the finances - or at least not impact it as significantly.
The compromise is to have the both the Boys and Girls Varsity games play on Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile the Boys and Girls Junior Varsity teams play on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is being done by two schools in the SWBL: Northridge and Brookville schedule their games in this manner on the weeks that they play one another. There are already a few leagues in the state who are experimenting with this arrangement. The fans can still see their featured boys Varsity teams on the nights they want to see them. And the Varsity girls have the opportunity to play in prime time - Friday and Saturday nights. It should have little impact on revenue, people who follow either Varsity team can see them at the best time and it doesn't break tradition. The people who plan their weekend evenings around their favorite Varsity team can still do that.
Like any change, there are some factors to consider and with compromise, not everyone is happy. If I am a parent of a son on a JV team and son on a Varsity team, I am going to double my trips to ball games. But then if I had a son and a daughter playing basketball - I would have the same problem. And there is an impact on coaches. One unnamed girls coach likes the more laid back atmosphere of girls games. If you make a bad decision, you don't have a thousand people breathing down your back. Also your weekends are more or less free. That is part of the reason I switched from coaching boys to girls. Coach Meinking from Dixie had a counter for this argument, “But then again those nights [weekends] are usually taken up by watching games tapes,
recording stats, or scouting”. But would this added exposure/pressure and weekend duties make the available pool of girls coaches smaller? Or on the other hand, make them better quality with more pressure to perform???
The GWOC (Beavercreek, Trotwood, etc.) has been experimenting with Saturday games involving varsity girls and boys. The SWBL has considered this change - playing varsity girls and boys on Fridays and Saturdays, but only two schools have acted on this. But it looks like change is in the wind. I think that it is only a matter of time before the CCC will have to take a look at this, or maybe two schools in the CCC will take a chance and try it themselves. This past week the MacDonalds all-American slamdunk contest was won by a girl - can Friday and Saturday night girls games be far behind?
Thanks to coach Meinking for her comments from a local coach and we'll give her the final thoughts on this topic:
“We've been fortunate to have a couple of weekend games a year now and
the outcome of those of been positive. We open our season up with a
weekend game and also look to have our Booster Holiday Tournament on a
weekend when we can as well. I think the girls enjoy it since people
are able to attend who wouldn't normally come. It is just more exposure
for the girls” Email comments to: email: Chris Tilton