CHE must show support for East’s female athletes

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Courtesy of: Allie Rosen and Mitchell Cassel

CHE girl's basketball plays in a much different crowd size then the boy's basketball team.

Five seconds left on the clock. Number 14 gets the ball. She shoots, she scores! The buzzer sounds. The crowd goes crazy! Except they don’t; no one is there to cheer.
Why? Shouldn’t the cheers be louder than the buzzer?
For most girls’ teams, this is the startling truth. It’s not a secret that girls’ teams typically have low attendance and low following in comparison to boys’ teams on the high school level for both phenomenal and mediocre girls’ teams alike. But this shouldn’t be the standard.
People aren’t coming out to female sports games. So then it falls on the players themselves to support each other.
One senior girl on the soccer team expressed that while she understands that the boys’ soccer team had a better season this past year, she would have liked to see more students at the girls’ games. She described the way that the boys’ and girls’ teams support each other as a “one way street,” with the girls supporting the boys, but not always feeling like it’s the other way around. She ended the conversation by stating, “If [the girl’s team] had the top [field], people would at least have to walk past us.”
But as much as it is a player’s responsibility to support their teammates, there still should be an effort from the students to do so. This article is not meant to attack Cherry Hill East Countrymen (@checountrymen). However, there is a student-run social media platform that is meant to represent the student body of East and promotes East sports, yet we see rare if any representation of the girls’ teams at East. We have to question if this is in fact representing the scope of our athletic programs at East. That doesn’t mean that those who run or follow the account do not in fact support the girls’ teams at our school. It’s simply a fact that the “Instagram for the BEST student section in SJ” (as per their Instagram bio) only showcases half of the student-athlete population.
Title IX, an act added to the Education Amendments of 1972 that provides equal opportunities regardless of gender, ensures that female student-athletes are provided “other athletic benefits and opportunities” by their school. These benefits include the nature of publicity, marketing and media services. While the Countrymen are not technically affiliated with the school, thus do not legally need to follow Title IX, when half of the student-athlete population is not represented on social media and when they can barely fill bleachers, it puts into question the priorities of girl’s teams in the stewardship of sports at East.
Mr. Mike Beirao, the Athletic Director for all Cherry Hill Public Schools, said that “nothing promotes womens’ sports more than success and opportunity. So with our programs, the more success they have, the more accolades and acknowledgments that our female student-athletes are going to receive, which brings more attention to them…I think the other piece too is opportunity. How are we providing more opportunities for our female athletes to be involved in athletics?”
But we already have successful girl’s teams at East. Beirao looks to “our womens’ tennis team, I think 19 out of the past 20 years, they’ve won sectionals. And 21 out of 22 years they’ve won the conference. Same with our swimming team, our girl’s swimming team is going for their fourth in a row section title and they have a tremendous amount of accolades. We have some phenomenal Track and Field athletes on our female side,” among other high-achieving female athletes.
The girl’s swimming team is currently undefeated and at the top of their division. The girl’s cross country team took first at the Olympic Conference Championships in October. Annie Behm (‘21) qualified for the June Olympic Trials in two events: 100 and 200 LCM backstroke. And Grace Yoon (‘20) has won the NJSIAA Meet State Champion for the past four years. East has some stellar athletes, more than mentioned above.
But how would you feel, if year after year after year, the buzzer is still louder than the cheers?

Courtesy of Allie Rosen and Mitchell Cassel
CHE boy’s basketball team celebrate in front of a large crowd after a win.