How a Ticket Sparked an Uprising in Supporting Female Athletes

Xtream Arena ticket debate caused an uproar of support for female athletes

Catalina Armstrong

The struggle for girl’s sports recognition came about at the recent Xtream Arena game in which City played West. However, the issue at hand did not have anything to do with the game. It all came down to font style on a ticket. The City High girls basketball team has emphasised the lack of attention received by females in sports by wearing the “Unbreakable Female Athletes” t-shirts before games. Female athletes have always had to work tremendously hard for recognition for the work and effort that they put into their practices and games. The Unbreakable Female Athlete t-shirts from Jaecee Hall’s brand, have been represented by the City High Girls Basketball team. 

When I talked to head coach Lynsey Barnard, she talked about her goal in leading her young girls to be successful and confident women in their athletic careers. “One thing I thought that Jaecee said that was really cool, was how “unbreakable” is a term that’s so unique to everybody’s experience, and sometimes that’s an injury or it’s the mental side of sports and sometimes that’s just trying to fight for the same sort of recognition and respect as the males,” said Coach Barnard.   

The stereotypes that women have to deal with have given them additional struggles to overcome rather than male athletes. 

“The stereotype is that there cannot be a high level of athleticism from respective women’s sports,” said Coach Barnard.

 The shortage of support structures for women in sports has definitely improved over the years, but there still is progress to be made. Professional counseling and therapy is provided by the schools to assist in supporting athletes of all genders. Coach Barnard and coach Paul Roesler have worked on the Girls That Lead program. As well as bringing in a group from the Scanlon Center of School Mental Health to create a curriculum to present to the City High Girls Basketball team. 

Athletes dealing with mental health issues in their sports will help them throughout their athletic career but as well as off the court/field. If female athletes had professional help, female athletes would feel more confident and valued. Positive self talk and body image are two of the biggest stereotypes female athletes deal with.

  “It’s a curriculum where the coaches are taught how to deal with mental health for athletes and the athletes themselves will talk about sleep and nutrition, positive self talk, and body image.” Coach Barnard said.

 The goal of the girls coaching staff is to have an impact on these women. They want them to be okay with who they are as athletes therefore, influencing who they are as a person in a positive way.

According to GWI sports, 69% of fans prefer to watch men’s only games rather than womens*, giving women’s sporting events typically around 31% less attendance than men’s sporting events. Only 25% of the population is more interested in watching women’s sporting events over men’s, lastly with 6% of the population is mixed attending either event. The unfortunate reality is that around over half of the seats at women’s sporting events are empty unlike men’s sporting events. 

The lack of recognition that female athletes get has always been an issue that people have acknowledged. But recently, the City High girl’s and boy’s basketball junior varsity and varsity teams participated in the City vs West game at Xtream Arena in Iowa City. Tickets were sold online for the game which many people from the community attended, as well as both school’s exhilarated student sections which were amazing supporters to the hard working athletes. After the game was over, posts on social media started to erupt. 

Many people in the community were upset about the layout of the Xtream Arena ticket for the athletes games. The ticket was laid out with the boys’ games in bolded, bigger text. The women’s games were underneath the boys’ game with much smaller text. Paul Roesler, a City High basketball coach and father of City High student athletes, spoke about his opinions of the ticket and the topic of female athletes’ events being undermined over the men’s sporting events in their views from the public. His post was seen by many of the community members and even West High female athletes recognized his commentary on the situation. These posts and reactions were supported around the community. 

In addition, City High coaches, staff, and parents expressed their opinions, speaking about the negative reactions to the tickets and how they were disappointed that the hard working female athletes’ events would be seen as less important than the male athletes’ events.

 “The different sizes and fonts stood out right away, I was bummed because the guys’ times stood out over the girls, so I was sad. I think that it was an opportunity that seemed to me to highlight the boys and not the girls.” Coach Barnard said. 

This reaction of the athletes and coaches had no ill intent on Xtream Arena and their support for the women’s events, but the reaction opened people’s eyes to an unspoken issue for female athletes. 

Because of this, Xtream Arena apologized for the incident and explained it was accidental due to the format used to print the events’ tickets. Student Athletes and coaches took this apology to heart.

 “ I totally understand how that was an oversight. So, I believe their apology and it is good for them for making that.” said Coach Barnard. 

However, coaching staff requested for the tickets to be made with more caution.

 “I do think there is an opportunity for them to highlight both varsity games over both JV games instead of highlighting the boys over the girls.” Coach Barnard said. 

Xtream Arena did not cause this issue but this miscommunication between the school and the facility brought this problem to the surface and for this we have worked together to make each and every female athlete to feel proud of their hard work. These t-shirts are a symbol for female athletes to feel supported, resilient, and hopeful to strive for the equality between women’s and men’s sports that females deserve. For more information about the Unbreakable Female Athlete Foundation read more about “Unbreakable Female Athlete” in the story by Lauren Koch.