In the War Room with Warfel: Where’s the support for women’s athletics?


Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz

Fans watch game action on Friday, March 1, 2019, during a matchup between the Southern Illinois Salukis and the Drake Bulldogs at SIU Arena.

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

The argument that women’s athletics is less competitive or not as fun as men’s is as old as the thought only women can cook.

I’ve been to multiple home games this season for women’s basketball, and it is saddening to go and see less than 1,000 fans in the stands.

While women’s basketball in particular has not played to its preseason hype, they play their best at home with a 9-3 record with two home games left this weekend.


I truly believe if we were able to even get 1,000 fans in seats at women’s sporting events, this team would bring home more wins.

Look to the Drake women’s basketball team as a prime example for filling seats at women’s games – they are at the top of the conference right now and ranked 23 in the college poll.

In Drake’s last home game against Southern on Feb. 3, they had over 3,600 fans in attendance.

Across Drake’s four home games in Valley play, the team averages 3,172 fans per game and their lowest attended conference game was their home opener against Loyola on Jan. 11, with 2,786 fans present.

The highest attended conference game at SIU Arena was the conference opener against Evansville where 503 fans came to see a 67-47 win on Jan. 4.

Across all six home games in conference play for the Salukis, 2,546 fans came to watch – which is still lower than Drake’s lowest attended conference game.

For fans who say “If they were better, I would watch them,” explain to me why 4,443 fans came and watched a 2-7 football team (at the time) on Nov. 10.


For those who say girls are not as competitive and they don’t play as hard, I ask, have you ever sat and watched a women’s basketball game?

When I sit down and watch this year’s women’s basketball team, I see a team who fights day in and day out in a really tough conference.

While these women do have eight losses in conference, four of those losses have come by single digits, and of the other four games, only one was truly a blowout– the 94-66 loss to Drake on Feb. 3.

Looking at other sports, volleyball had a turnout of 249 at their last game against Valparaiso on Nov. 17. Davies Gym can hold 1,250 fans.

Doing the math, only 19 percent of the seats filled. But SIU Arena can fit 8,339 fans at max capacity, so in the women’s basketball team’s highest attended game – less than one percent of seats were filled.

At Drake, the Knapp Center can hold 7,152 fans and at their lowest attended game Bulldog fans still filled 38 percent of their seats.

Even looking at total attendance for Southern at all home conference games, only 30 percent of the seats have been filled. This is unacceptable, Saluki fans.

Just go and watch junior forward Nicole Martin post up down low, or watch sophomore guard Makenzie Silvey launch a three-pointer.

Senior night is this Sunday against UNI with tip off set for 2 p.m., so please go and honor the one senior on this year’s team, forward Celina VanHyfte.

Before you go and say women’s sports are boring, ask the women who fought for Title IX rules. Talk to people like head coach Cindy Stein and ask them what it was like before women were given equal access to sports.

Unlike men’s sports, these women fought to be where they are today, and to this day they are still fighting the stigmas and stereotypes our society has put on them because they are women.

This idea is unacceptable, especially in a world where we are increasingly becoming more accepting of other people’s ideas and beliefs.

So, before you cast judgement on what you “think” women’s sports are like go out and watch a game. Just once, that’s all I ask.

If people in Des Moines can go out and support their team in weather that is in the teens, then you have no excuse to get off your butt.

If you call yourself Saluki fan, then why do you only support the men?

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.

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