School spirit motivates athletes — we need more of it at girls games


Photo by Thomas Knox.

At our basketball games, there are almost never students in the stands, usually only some parents.

By Jaclyn Morgan

On a Friday night in the Whitman gym, I raced across the court during my girls basketball game. The intense squeaking of basketball shoes against the wooden floor rang in my ears as our coach yelled for us to get back on defense.

But among the sounds flooding my ears, something was missing — the chaos of a packed gym, a huge crowd cheering us on. 

Our team was making an astonishing comeback against Quince Orchard. We were scoring shots from outside the three-point line and playing solid defense. But at the same time, the way we were playing didn’t seem to matter; we were left alone to hype each other up. Without a crowd supporting us, our motivation dwindled and we began to lose our fire. QO eventually took back the lead and won. 

To student-athletes, school spirit can make a huge difference. What could possibly be more motivational than having a significant portion of your school cheer on the sidelines while you play your heart out? As a varsity player on Whitman’s basketball and soccer teams, I wish I could say I know what that actually feels like. 

My teammates and I try to spread the word about our upcoming games as often as we can. We text all of our friends days before a game, post promotional pictures on social media and notify students on Whitmaniacs’ Facebook group. Despite our efforts, few students actually show up.

The crowds at boys football, hockey and basketball games are usually much larger than those of girls sports. In an informal Black & White survey of only one out of 36 students said they attend more girls games than boys games. 

Online publicity plays a large role in attracting more fans to sports games; since boys games receive more publicity— whether it’s from the Whitmaniacs Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter — more fans attend their games. An informal lunchtime survey of 40 students found that, generally, students either post more on social media for boys sporting events or don’t post at all. 

Last year, the girls soccer team made it to the state finals. We played as hard as we could, and although we didn’t win, the number of students, parents and teachers who came to the game to support us and the passion they brought was truly inspiring. Not only were we playing for ourselves and the team, but for the first time, we were also playing for what felt like our entire school. 

If girls sports receive an equal amount of publicity and “hype” from the Whitman community as boys sports do, the number of fans who attend girls games would likely increase. It may not be a drastic difference, but even a slight increase in audience members would be a start. There shouldn’t be such a clear distinction between the number of fans who support girls or boys sports teams at Whitman.

Thinking back to that game against QO, I wonder what my team’s mentality would have been with a different crowd. We can’t go back and change the outcome, but fans are what energizes athletes, and it means a lot when our community puts in the time and effort to come out and support us.