The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Women’s basketball deserves your respect, attendance

Womens+Attendance
Photo by Photo by: Morgan Engel
Women’s Attendance

A&M is one of only two universities in the country to have its men’s and women’s basketball programs ranked in the top 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 rankings.

However, there is a major disparity in the attendance that each squad has been able to attract — particularly among students.

At the men’s game on Jan. 19 against unranked LSU, the lines were ridiculously long, with students littering the grounds outside of Reed Arena. The line for the student entrance was so daunting the administration decided to open the South entrance as well. In front of a sold out crowd, the Aggies easily defeated the Tigers.

Only two days later, the women’s team played No. 23 Missouri and drew only 3,844 people, including a mere 150 students. Simply put, only 150 students came to see a women’s game that featured two teams ranked in the top 25, while Reed was at maximum capacity for the men’s game when Billy Kennedy’s team played an unranked team with six losses.

“There’s two teams in this town,” A&M head coach Gary Blair said after the Mizzou game. “We had another 150 students. We’re going to keep doing it — I was out yesterday passing out 400 tickets myself, just trying to get various people to come. This team deserves it — these five seniors deserve it. Bryan-College Station needs it. They need to be able to support two teams at the highest level.”

There is a misperception around the country that women’s basketball simply isn’t as fun to watch — this doesn’t make sense. There was a noticeable spike in attendance when No. 2 South Carolina came to Aggieland Sunday, and those in attendance certainly got their money’s worth.

“When we got the crowd rocking and [South Carolina] was having to call timeouts — that was pretty special,” Blair said. “Everybody went away saying, ‘Damn, women can play the game at the highest level.’”

Not surprisingly, the players notice it too. Having a raucous crowd behind them helps them play better.

“I think the crowd was huge, we had a nice turnout tonight,” leading scorer Courtney Walker said after the South Carolina game. “We were really excited about it, really fired up. Every time we went on a run, I think we just fed off of that.”

Blair works tirelessly to spread the word about the program and is always trying to find ways to bring more fans to his team’s games, and he said that right now the university should be focusing on Texas A&M basketball.

“It’s our time right now,” Blair said. “Just like when baseball rolls around and softball — it’s their time. Right now is when Aggies are supposedly great at supporting Aggies, and they’re even better at supporting winners.”

“Winners” is a terrific way to describe the Aggie women’s hoops team this year, which is why the lack of attendance among students is astounding. Aggies all across campus seem to be hopping on the men’s bandwagon — as they should be. Kennedy has assembled one of the better A&M men’s teams in recent memory.

But the women’s program has been a perennial powerhouse for years now. It won a National Championship in 2011 and has since then consistently ranked among the best teams in the country.

Blair is not even asking for everyone to become instant hardcore supporters, he just wants the students to keep an open mind when it comes to his team. After all, anyone with a sports pass can get into the games for free, so using the “broke college student” excuse won’t work either. 

“I just want people to give us a chance,” he said.

The next chance to support your Aggie women’s hoops is Sunday at 3 p.m., when No. 23 Tennessee comes to town. It is arguably the biggest college game on Super Bowl Sunday, so come out and support. There will be tailgating going on outside of Reed Arena.

Hopefully, the opportunity to see a highly-competitive team that boasts two preseason All-Americans and a Hall of Fame coach will be too hard to resist. And if you come once, chances are you’ll be back.

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