Assistant athletic director discusses women’s sports

In many ways society has improved upon the disparity in gender based treatment. Women can vote and wages are legally supposed to be equal, regardless of gender. Strides have been made but clearly there is room for improvement.

One aspect of society that is often overlooked in this regard is athletics.

“I think no matter where you go,” said Brittany Simmerman, assistant athletic director and senior women’s administrator at Washburn, “whether it’s Washburn at the division two level or any big school, if you were to go to Lawrence and go to Kansas University and watch them at the division one level, you’ll see more of a following for men’s athletics especially football and men’s basketball. Those are the sports that bring in the most money, the most fans and typically that’s where, if you’re going to have somebody who roots for a school, those are the games they go to.”

Simmerman, who was involved in athletics from a young age noted the way in which things have changed since her childhood.

“I feel like it’s been kind of an interesting progression. I did play three sports when I was younger: basketball, soccer and softball. When I was younger the WNBA was just starting out.

“I think as I’ve grown up you see women’s athletics more but you’re still not getting the same type of support. It’s just like the World Cup. People have never watched soccer in their lives watch the men’s World Cup, and then we’ve had one of the most successful female teams of the past 15- to- 20 years and people don’t watch.”

The difference in the way people look at women’s athletics and men’s causes many of these problems, Simmerman explained.

“The truth is it is a different game,” she said. “Women play at a different speed. They focus on different things. It doesn’t make the game any better or worse. It’s just something different. People are used to watching men on TV and seeing NBA games where they dunk and they travel all over the place and you’re not going to get that if you come and watch our Washburn girls play. You’re going to get defense and rebounds, and that’s what happens.”

To effect change in this system, Simmerman suggested showing equal support for men’s and women’s athletics at the collegiate level.