By Gabby Alfveby
In the last decade, advocacy for women’s sports has been brought to the forefront of media.
Grant Kelam, the head coach for the Flagler’s women’s lacrosse team, urges not only women to show up and support other women, but men to also give women’s sports games a chance. Kelam is passionate about women’s sports and helping to advocate for them.
“For me, one of the first things I did when I became a women’s lacrosse coach is put down my men’s lacrosse stick, and I picked up a women’s stick because they have different regulations set for them,” Kelam said.
A USC/Purdue study published in March of 2021 found that women’s college sports received fewer less coverage in the news, as well as media coverage online. The study also stated that 95% of TV coverage focused on men’s sports.
Kelam noticed that many female athletes show up to their boyfriend’s games, but their boyfriends won’t go and support them back.
“I think there’s a big gap there … I see it all the time,” Kelam said. “The girlfriend will go watch the guy play, right? But the guy won’t come watch his girlfriend play. And you know, the girl when she goes and watches her boyfriend play would bring two or three friends with her. But those two or three friends won’t necessarily go to her game.”
Women’s sports require a different skill level than men’s sports do. Kelam acknowledges that in women’s lacrosse the stick differences affect the style of play and make women’s lacrosse more technical.
Kaleigh Bruss wears jersey number 29 and is a freshmen attacker for the Flagler women’s lacrosse team. Bruss experiences the pressures firsthand has a women’s lacrosse player.
“It’s not as rough. You can focus more in on the skill and I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t take into account,” Bruss said. “It sucks, then people don’t even recognize [female athletes] for [their sports] being harder.”
Kelam and his lacrosse team are completely behind the idea of supporting other female sports, not just their own sport. Kelam encourages his players to support other female athletes so they will maybe return the same support to his team.
“I tell [the team] all the time, go support the other teams, period. And it would really be nice to get the non-athlete population, the people who don’t participate in our Athletic Department to get out to some of these games and enjoy their classmates and cheer them on and enjoy it,” Kelam said.
Women’s sports events are free to attend at Flagler College, making it more convenient for people to attend them.
“For me, it’s a no-brainer of ‘Hey what are you doing this Saturday?’, ‘Hey, there’s a women’s lacrosse game.’ Go out there for a half, who cares. You don’t have to stay out there the whole game. You know, they’re free, why not?” Kelam said.
Women’s sports athletes and coaches want people to give their athletics a chance by trying to attend a game. Many coaches will tell you that it just takes attending one game to be hooked to most female sports.
WSN found that women’s college sports have an average of 1,625 fans per game while men’s college sports have an average of 4,659 fans per game.
“I would say that lacrosse is worth investing your time. Women’s Lacrosse is worth investing your time and to getting to know the sport enough to enjoy it,” Kelam said. “With the ball being able to travel upwards of 75 miles an hour, a lot can happen and it’s exciting. It’s high scoring and you really get to showcase the female athlete in all facets, whether it’s strength, skills, speed, technical … it’s just all there for people to really get behind and enjoy a female sport.”