Sports take: High-performing sports deserve more recognition

Baylor senior Kaylee Adams and assistant coach Angela Ucci celebrate after the Bears defeated Oregon on Saturday at the Ferrell Center to claim their fifth straight national championship. Branson Hardcastle | Multimedia Journalist

Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor

When you turn on your TV looking for a sporting event to watch, usually the first thing you will find is a football game, men’s basketball game or golf. To find something like women’s basketball, even during March Madness, you have to search or stream the game, which is much more difficult than flipping to a popular channel.

For television rating’s sake, this makes sense. Most sports-watchers are looking for either football or men’s basketball because they’re so popular, and therefore will make the most revenue. But why is it, at Baylor, that the sports we are truly good at aren’t the ones we find easily accessible or the most publicized? Rather, we see our football team and our men’s basketball team taking away the glory while the Lady Bears get less attention, and the acrobatics and tumbling team gets little to no Baylor publicity.

In the last 15 years, Baylor has won nine national championships. Of these, eight of the national championship titles have been taken by the women’s basketball team and our acrobatics and tumbling team. The only outlier is the first national championship Baylor won in 2004, which was by the men’s tennis team.

While Baylor might not see the negative consequences of not paying as much attention to the lesser known sports, you can see the negative outcomes if you attend a game. Now I won’t argue that McLane Stadium during a football game and the Ferrell Center during an acrobatics and tumbling meet should be equal. The level of interest in the sports being played is vastly different. But I believe that if Baylor were to more publicly advertise our women’s basketball and acrobatics and tumbling teams’ game times, student attendance could easily be much higher. It’s pretty ridiculous that our acrobatics and tumbling team won their fifth consecutive national championship this year, which was held at home, in the Ferrell Center, and the stadium was far from full the night of the national championship.

Student support at games is vital. A study done by Erin Smith and Jon Groetzinger in 2010 suggests that this lack of support – this lack of school and fan support – might have negative consequences on the teams. Their study shows that an increase in attendance results in a 4% increase in the likelihood of a home team win. This may not seem like a lot to most of us, but 4% can easily determine the outcome of a close game.

To increase student participation and attendance, Baylor needs to take the lead. More social media posts about these teams, better publicizing their accomplishments and showing what an honor it is to go to a university with national champions will surround these sports with excitement and get our students excited about them as well. Our teams work hard, and we have some great athletes who deserve to be recognized for their passion and dedication.