Last Saturday night, the men’s hockey team defeated Colby in front of a sold-out Sidney J. Watson Arena. Over 1,900 students, alumni and community members came to show their support for Bowdoin. Alumni tickets sold out in under two hours. Student tickets sold out in under six minutes.
Yet earlier that Saturday, the women’s hockey team faced off against top-ranked Amherst. Despite their underdog status entering the game ranked eighth in the NESCAC, the Polar Bears put up an impressive fight, holding Amherst to a one-goal margin. The women’s hockey game demonstrated high-quality play from both sides all the way through the third period.
Amherst may not share the same rivalry status as Colby. However, when the women’s team faced Colby in December, only 314 people attended, less than a fifth of the turnout for the men’s rivalry game.
The Bowdoin-Colby men’s hockey game has a history that goes back over 100 years—the rivalry is steeped in tradition and there is a buzz of excitement each year in anticipation of the game. On the other hand, women’s sports at Bowdoin have only been around since 1971. Perhaps it’s not entirely fair to make a direct comparison about the level of engagement surrounding these two games.
However, in many other sports, the same trend persists. A men’s soccer game on a Friday night will see a decently large crowd, while the women’s soccer team’s stands consist mostly of parents and roommates. Men’s lacrosse games see massive turnouts on Saturday afternoons. The women’s team does not garner nearly as much attention.
We want to see the same support for women’s sports at Bowdoin as we consistently do for men’s.
Some women’s sports are regularly well-attended, like women’s basketball and volleyball. Morrell Gymnasium is often packed with fans supporting their peers.
This is encouraging but shouldn’t stop there. We should be using those teams as an example of how incredible women’s sports games can be when they are given the chance to take center stage.
The women’s rugby team has won the national championship for four straight years. The women’s basketball team has an astonishing 19–1 record this season. The volleyball team made it to the NESCAC semifinals last fall. Women’s lacrosse, softball, track and field and soccer all have players who consistently receive NESCAC and DIII honors.
Of course, plenty of people within the Bowdoin community actively support women’s sports. But there should be an intentional effort to create roots for long-standing traditions within women’s athletics. If there is no active work in creating scaffolding for women’s sports to have big events that become traditions, they will largely fall short in comparison to the men’s events.
One of the best things about Bowdoin is how people show up for one other. A capella shows fill the Chapel to the brim. Dance shows bring a packed crowd to Pickard Theater. Over 700 students show up to cheer on the men’s hockey team as it faces its biggest rival. We stand together, collectively cheer for and support one another. Extend that enthusiasm to women’s sports.
This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, which is composed of Miles Berry, Isa Cruz, Abdullah Hashimi, Kristen Kinzler, Austin Zheng, Sam Pausman and Juliana Vandermark.