Francis Cunningham, member of the girls swim team, observes the empty bleachers next to the pool.
Francis Cunningham, member of the girl’s swim team, observes the empty bleachers next to the pool.
Kate Brody

Athletes struggle for equal coverage

Fight Song is blasted on the speakers, green jerseys fill the halls, and students are planning their outfits according to the theme of the night. Yep, it’s game day. Just saying “game day”, you probably know what “game” it’s referring to. There is no sport at York more popular than football. You can feel the excitement for the games in your classrooms, on the announcements, and the green outfits. It even has its own school dance! Pictures from games are plastered on the front page of the magazines and websites, and students who don’t even attend York show up to cheer for the Dukes. It’s no wonder so much light is shone on the excitement of game day, yet it begs to ask the question: what about the other sports at York?

David Harvan, senior and manager of the football team, loves the enthusiasm surrounding the football team. To Harvan, it’s one of the most exciting parts of York. Yet, he notes the obvious inequality in recognition between sports.

 “There’s a lot of great things that football can bring to the York community. It brings a lot of enthusiasm and excitement, especially on Friday nights,” Harvan said. “People pay a lot of attention to football, and while that can be amazing, it’s unfair to those who are in another sport. The other sports definitely don’t get the recognition they deserve. Still, I think the overall pride is pretty great.”

Even though members of other sports put in equal levels of work, it seems their stands are not as packed with passionate students. Though there are multiple steps that can be taken to bring light to the lesser-known sports.

 “I think getting people to put the less talked-about sports out there more, either on the announcements or social media, would be really important,” Harvan said. “Getting more features out would be a great step forward.”

Francis Cunningham, senior and member of the girl’s swim team, knows everyone works hard. Regardless of the lack of recognition, she and her team still share a close bond due to their intensive hours spent together.

“Everyone on the team is super close, we’re all really good friends,” Cunningham said. “We spend five or six hours a day together for practice, so we hangout all the time.” 

Despite the strenuous effort put into the sport, there’s a lack of acknowledgement meeting this hard work. Not only is swim under-recognized as a sport, but the hours put into it often go without mention as well. Cunningham believes the team should get more attention for their dedication, and knows there’s something that can be done.

“We get some recognition, but we definitely get overlooked,” Cunningham said. “I think a lot of people just don’t really understand the sport. Swim should definitely get more recognition, since it’s super fun and we work really hard.” 

Katie Turnbull, teacher at York and coach of girl’s bowling, faces a similar problem with her team. Often when people think of bowling, they think of field trips or birthday parties, yet the sport takes more technique and skill than most realize.

“Something about bowling most people don’t know is how technical it is. There’s just so much to the sport that requires fundamentals, drills, and strength that a lot of people don’t recognize until they try to bowl in a way our competitive athletes do at York,” Turnbull said. “It’s such a great sport for anybody to do, but I think a lot of people don’t notice the work our team puts in.” 

Paired with the lack of coverage on bowling is the issue of location. With there being no bowling alleys on campus, the team faces additional physical boundaries that prevent larger crowds.

“I think bowling along with a lot of other sports face a particular challenge in that we are an off-campus sport,” Turnbull said. “The home fields aren’t in York, which means that if people want to watch us, they have to travel, as opposed to walking to the fields right in front of the school. If people saw the games, I think they’d actually really enjoy the experience. They’re loud, they’re competitive, and just really exciting matches overall.”

With the troubles that come with distance of the sport is the worldwide struggle of getting women’s sports equal media coverage. Male sports are usually the first thing you see when you turn on the TV or read the news. When you think of basketball, you’re more likely to imagine the Chicago Bulls than the Chicago Sky, the WNBA team of Chicago. When you look at the statistics, women only earn at most 80% of what men earn across all sports.

“Not even looking at York but also the world, most of the time male sports get a majority of the coverage and recognition,” Turnbull said. “If there was more equal media coverage for these other sports, I think people might start to pay more attention to sports that don’t get as much recognition.” 

Following an increase in publicity would be an increase in equality throughout all sports, regardless of gender or skill-level. On top of the shortage of exposure covering girl’s bowling, the team faces a unique obstacle of starting from scratch their freshman year.

“There’s no bowling in the middle-school levels here,” Turnbull said. “Even though these girls are coming in with no experience, they’re able to do what other girls have been able to do for five or six years prior, which is how we’ve qualified for state every single year I’ve coached.”

Qualifying for state is an impressive feat, especially in light of the aversions the girl’s bowling team is forced to face.

Media coverage or not, everybody works just as hard, putting their best foot forward with passion and pride. Because our media often neglects to fully inform the York community about these other sports, their efforts and achievements go underappreciated. Moving forward, an increase in equal sports coverage can be expected. 

“It’s definitely an uphill battle, but it’s so rewarding to say at the end of the season, ‘Wow, we did that’,” Turnbull said. 

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