Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor
If you haven’t guessed it already, this week’s issue is all about basketball, a sport famously known for its big-name players like Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant and so many others. Here, at VCU, basketball is practically everything for sports fans.
On Oct. 12, the VCU basketball season began. The annual Black and Gold scrimmage welcomed our five new men’s freshman players. The excitement was undeniable as the players rushed the court, greeted with cheers and roars from the crowd.
Per usual, the team played a 26-minute game against one another. However, what the scrimmage lacked was a 26-minute women’s game. That’s right, the women’s basketball team was not highlighted during this scrimmage. Surprised? I’m not. The women’s team and its new players were only brought out during halftime like prized toys who didn’t have talent to show.
This was an odd move from VCU Athletics. Many neighboring state schools, such as the University of Virginia, host similar scrimmages. Unlike VCU, UVa has an equal playing opportunity for both the men’s and women’s teams when it comes to preseason scrimmages. See, at UVa, they seem to have an understanding that the women’s team is just as important as their men’s team. I guess VCU didn’t get the memo.
I was a Rowdy Ram my freshman year. For those of you who aren’t aware, the Rowdy Ram membership gave me first dibs on all men’s games. However, it didn’t extend to women’s games. In fact, the women’s games don’t even require the purchase of tickets; VCU students are just required to show their ID upon arrival. Why? Because VCU Athletics is well aware the women’s team won’t ever sell out a stadium. This fact is due to the lack of recognition and promotion of the women’s team.
The lack of respect given to the women’s team is completely undeserved. These women work just as hard as the men’s team. They leave their blood, sweat and tears on the court, the same as the men do. Yet, we never seem to hear about the successes and talents so everly present in the women’s team.
Ladies, it’s time to take back our well-deserved recognition. To the VCU women’s basketball team, you are the greatest athletes in your field. Don’t allow anyone else to tell you otherwise. Last season, women’s basketball swept through the A-10 conference. Unlike the men’s team, the women made it all the way to the final game against Fordham. Junior forward Sydnei Archie told The Commonwealth Times that she and the rest of her team were wildly excited for the new season. As am I — I am beyond prepared to see these women dominate the court with the same elegance and command they did last season.
Nevertheless, as members of the VCU community, we need to start cheering on our ladies. It’s no longer acceptable to sell out the men’s games and leave the Siegel Center empty during the women’s games. Last season, the women’s game against La Salle on Jan. 8 had an attendance of only 412 people. Meanwhile, the men’s game on Jan. 9 had an attendance of 7,637 — completely sold-out.
Let’s take VCU versus Richmond for example, a game that is incredibly popular due to our proximity to the university. Well, while the men’s game on Feb. 13 unsurprisingly sold out, the women’s game on Feb. 9 sold only 2,033 tickets. How can we expect these ladies to crush their opponents if we can’t even show up to support them?
VCU basketball fans, start showing up for these skilled and accomplished women. Let’s relay to them that we care about their successes, that we will cry with every loss and scream with every win, the same way we do with our men’s team. VCU Athletics is a community full of brilliant student-athletes who defy the odds of managing both schoolwork and their passion at once. It’s time to give these ladies the recognition and support they deserve.