A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Success Doesn’t Always Mean Fanbase

There is a clear difference in the fanbase at girls’ and boys’ basketball games at Northampton High School, which some staff and students attribute to societal “isms.”

Ray Harp, a teacher and the boys’ varsity basketball coach of 11 years here at Northampton High said the difference is obvious: more people come to the boys’ games than the girls’.

Harp also said that this issue could be related to “blatant sexism,” and that some people may think that because boys are stronger their games will be “more interesting.”

Grace Goodwin-Boyd, an NHS senior and three year team member of the varsity girl’s basketball team also agrees that this issue could be related to sexism, but also points out that the basketball games have just become a social event. The social aspect “has become more oriented towards the boy’s games than the girl’s games,” she said. Goodwin-Boyd also said the difference is ”definitely not” because of records, considering the girl’s 2014-2015 record of 15-6 overall, and 5-3 conference, and the boy’s 2014-2015 record of 6-14 overall, and 2-8 conference, according to MassLive statistics.

Northampton High School principal Bryan Lombardi agreed, and said, “society doesn’t value women’s sports equally… there is the perception that men’s sports are more entertaining or aggressive,” echoing Harp. Lombardi added that these isms could be viewed as a ¨cultural phenomenon.¨  The girls’ games do not get the same publicity as the boys’ games, he said. When principal Lombardi attends girls’ games there can be five to ten students in one area, whereas for the boys there can be 50-200 students”, said Lombardi.

He suggested girls’ games have more activities as a way to draw a larger crowd, such as half court shot contest and foul shot contest against NHS faculty during halftime, as well as t-shirt handouts and entrance discounts.

Celeste Malvezzi, assistant principal at NHS, said the lack of “student support” and “excitement” towards the girls’ sports teams is “unfortunate,” given NHS’s strong girls’ athletic program and “phenomenal” female athletes. She said she was “open” to new ideas to bring more students to girls’ games.

“I look forward to a time when I have to work the girls basketball games because the Devils Den is overflowing with student fans. It could happen. It should happen,” said Malvezzi.