Thursday, December 4, 2008

Baggot wonders about Women's attendance

Before I get to the main point, I want to point out that Meghan Duggan was named WCHA offensive player of the week.

To the main point of this post, today Andy Baggot of the WSJ shared some thoughts wondering why the Women's team doesn't see bigger attendance numbers at their games. He makes a lot of good points, and I have wondered this exact same thing myself this season.

Here are some of Baggot's points:

  • The Badger Women are the best thing going in terms of Wisconsin sports. No one touches their unbeaten record of 16-0-2.
  • Baggot considers Jessie Vetter to be one of the five most dominant, most clutch student-athletes in school history, men or women. Her stats definately back this up this season and throughout her career. 8-1 in the NCAA tourney w/ two National Championship and there is a good chance she'll be the top netminder for Team USA in the Olympics next winter.
  • If Jessie isn't enough, Erika Lawler, Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight are three of the best Women's hockey players in all the land and possibly Olympians themselves in Feb 2010. Hilary Knight is the bomb. Throw in Brooke Ammerman, Malory Deluce, Angie Keseley, Jasmine Giles and Carolyne Prevost too (I could name several more), they aren't too bad.
  • Mark Johnson, enough said.

If you actually link over to the article there are a lot of comments from different people, all w/ some merit on why they don't draw better. Here is a brief summary:

  • People don't like Women's sports. Roughly 50% of the populace is female, can this blanket statement really be true?
  • Schedule, its mentioned many times and I think is the main reason for low attendance on fridays.
  • No checking, the game is too slow. I can understand if you've only seen Men's hockey all your life that no checking would be odd, but I don't think the game is that slow. W/ out the checking it really opens things up, and well the Badgers are talented and it shows.
  • Competition isn't great. Sure'll I'll give anyone that. Other than minnesota and Foreign Legion of Duluth, the rest of the WCHA is no match. Not the women on the ice's fault that other schools suck.
  • One person even said foul language. Sieve is far from foul, its the cold hard truth.

The Women are averaging 1,440 people/game so far. As a few commentors pointed out the volleyball team draws 3 to 4k, while the basketball team draws 8k, sometimes more. Both are much more mainstream sports in HS for young women to play, I can see how they would be attended because likely more people participated in them at a younger age.

Really I think people are missing out, and missing out in a big way. Last season I attended my first Women's game, 1st round WCHA against Mankato. I had always said I would make a game, and always put it off. Not long into the 1st period, I knew I would be in a seat come this season when I could make it. Hilary Knight put a sick move on one of the land cow players scoring a sweet goal. No checking, you say, I'm glad becasue you would never see a talented player in the Men's game do that, or at least not often, maybe on a breakaway. I'm very happy I've made 7 of 10 so far this season, and look forward to St. Cloud this weekend.

Men's and Women's hockey are like night and day to me, I enjoy them both for that reason. As Baggot was saying, this team is loaded w/ talent, loaded!

I will admit that schedule is a big deal. I have a job where I can leave friday afternoons and head to the KC, but a lot of people don't and kids are still in school. But the price is definately right, $5/game or $30/season ticket is a steal, especially for what you get in return in entertainment value.

For those who have been to a game and don't like it for whatever reason, that is fine, the play doesn't suit everyone. If you haven't been to a game, I recommend making a point of picking a saturday for a doubleheader, and form an opinion for yourself. I think the Women's team would be a great place for young girls to come and watch hardworking, confident young women play their sport, and maybe give them some good role models to aspire to.

I'm not sure if Andy Baggot is saying the Women should get 10,000+ in attendance or he just expects better. I would be happy to see 4,000 at every game, and maybe that will come if UW builds a new rink for practice and Women's game. Maybe their own rink will help their schedule too.

This weekend is another chance for Badger fans to see the Women in action. Come to the Kohl Center at 2 PM Friday and/or Saturday, I don't think you'll be disappointed.