• August 29, 2015

Even at Elite Programs, Ticket Prices for Women's Basketball Lag Behind Men's, Report Says

Just in time for college basketball season, a report is urging athletics departments to abandon their longstanding practice of charging less for tickets to women's basketball games than to men's games.

The report, "Ticket Office Sexism: The Gender Gap in Pricing for NCAA Division I Basketball," was published by the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. It presents data that rebut a "popular but faulty" argument that colleges charge less for women's games than for men's because those events fail to draw comparable crowds—or because the women's teams rank lower than the men's teams.

Among the top 25 men's and women's teams, the report says, colleges charged nearly three times as much, on average, for single-game seats for men's games. The disparity was even greater for season tickets, with the average highest-priced package at $233 for women and $2,500 for men.

"Colleges charge a premium for admission to see males play, even when women's basketball teams are ranked as among the very best performers in the nation," write the authors, Laura Pappano and Allison J. Tracy, both of the Wellesley Centers for Women. By charging less for admission to highly ranked women's games, the authors say, athletics departments engage in "institutional discrimination that is camouflaged as sensible economic practice."

The report analyzed ticket prices at every level, from single-game to season tickets, at 292 Division I colleges. The results showed that ticket prices for women's games lagged far behind those for men's games at the same institution at all of the top 25 women's basketball programs in the country—even at colleges where the men's team ranked lower than the women's team.

At some programs where both the women's and men's programs are highly ranked, the price gap was even more significant, the report says.

At the University of Connecticut, where the women's basketball team has won six NCAA championships and has a famously loyal fan base, single-game tickets are $22 for women's games. Single-game tickets for the men's team, which lost in the national semifinals this past spring, are $30.

"Tradition and history dictate the cost of the ticket," a spokesman for the Connecticut athletics department, Mike Enright, was quoted as saying in the report. "Historically, the women's tickets have always been a little less expensive than the men's tickets," he said.

"It's really a factor of … history and tradition—and not that the women's team doesn't have a great history and tradition—but the history of ticket pricing."

The report can be purchased on the centers' Web site.


1. boiler - October 06, 2009 at 12:11 am

This seems a little far-fetched. Most women's basketball teams at Division 1 schools have trouble filling their arenas at current prices; if they raised them, the crowds would be even smaller. Whether the teams are ranked high or low isn't really relevant. A great women's basketball team is still a women's basketball team, and people who prefer the men's game, which is faster and much more physical, aren't likely to attend. It seems unfair to call athletics administrators sexist for recognizing basic supply and demand principles.

2. vyellen - October 06, 2009 at 08:01 am

Just basic supply and demand. Lower the price and more people may show up for the game. It would have been interesting if one compared ticket cost v. paid admissions. Another example of poor research for statistics proving nothing.

3. cmsmw - October 06, 2009 at 08:26 am

boiler - I agree. And I say this is an avid fan of women's basketball, preferring it over the men's game for its greater emphasis on the fundamentals of the game over showmanship.

4. krannertugcns - October 06, 2009 at 08:52 am

The researchers failed to account for differences in audiences; rarely do the same people attend both men's and women's games. Children comprise a significant percentage of attendees for our women's games. These games are much more familiy-friendly, starting with ticket price. Few families can afford to attend a men's game.

5. badger74 - October 06, 2009 at 11:04 am

Thia has to be the DUMBEST so-called study ever to waste the ink it was printed with. College athletic departments are not trying to leave money on the table. There is little effective demand for tickets for women's basketball. Just look at the NBA and the WNBA and their pricing.

6. erikjensen - October 06, 2009 at 11:43 am

I hate to break this to Pappano and Tracy, but there is not a single women's basketball team that is among the very best performers in the nation. The sexism here is the authors' contention that there should be equal rewards for unequal performance. If women want to be treated equally, then they should play for the men's team or play competitively against men's teams. There is a lot of real sexism out there that the authors could study, but it's this kind of PC crap that gives ammunition to right wing fear mongers. I do not look forward to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck reporting on this.

7. superdude - October 06, 2009 at 12:01 pm

It not sexism, it's simply the fact that far fewer people actually want to pay to see women's basketball. If the authors feel that ticket prices should be the same as what's charged for mens' basketball, then the product on the court has to be the same.

To claim gender bias here is ridiculous, and it shouldn't be a surprise that people are unwilling to pay top-dollar for an inferiour product. The authors need to take off their culture-warrior glasses and go take an Econ 101 class.

8. 11216278 - October 06, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Part of the problem may be that women no longer play "Women's" Basketball. They play "Men's", i.e. Boys' Basketball. Iowa, Kentucky, and the Arkansas were the last holdouts for Girls' Basketball. And people were interested and actually came to see it. Now we have inequality in the name and pretense of equality and unfairness in the name of fairness. The country's going crazy.

9. bigredw - October 06, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Go ahead and equalize the prices--see what happens. Or better yet, get rid of gender-specific teams and see how many women get to participate in D-I athletics. Gender is just a social construction anyway, so "women" should be able to compete just as well with "men" if they think differently.

10. fossil - October 06, 2009 at 02:22 pm

The study and its recommendations are merely silly. Let's face it, Men's Basketball is a different and altogether more exciting spectator sport than Women's. I say this, even acknowledging the superiority of the women's game in some fundamentals, like foul-shooting and team play. Women's basketball is played on the floor; men's basketball is played a couple of feet above the basket. The former is a rather dull game by comparison because it is slower and nowhere near as explosive.

On the other hand, if Men's and Women's Figure Skating were performed in separate venues, is it even remotely conceiveable that the former could charge spectators as much as the latter?

11. unusedusername - October 06, 2009 at 02:34 pm

And that's not all! College men's basketball costs more per ticket than high school boy's basketball. We need a serious study to address this problem!

12. greenhills73 - October 06, 2009 at 04:56 pm

Last year we gladly paid $55 per ticket for single game men's basketball, and I'm sorry to say that I would not pay to see a women's game...it just doesn't hold any appeal for me. Raise or lower the prices, and it still wouldn't make any difference. But I can guarantee you that at the current prices, the women cannot fill half the fieldhouse. That's just the way it is.

13. jsch0602 - October 06, 2009 at 08:23 pm

And Madonna charges more for her concerts than the Chicago Symphony Orchestra does for its. Go figure. On the plus side, women professional tennis players are provided equal prize money at major tournaments even though they only need to win two out of three sets. Men must win three of five.

14. kimchronicle - October 07, 2009 at 09:26 am

Wow, the real sexism comes out in these comments. Most assuredly by people who have never attended the commonly sold out Tennessee or UCONN women's games. The women ARE as good as the men and NO, they should NOT play on the men's teams. That's just a ridiculous comment. These women are athletic, talented, excellent basketball players who play competitive basketball. The men play one on one and the tallest guy wins. It's all in taste and there's no way that women's tickets should be so much less than men's tickets. The fans will pay the prices. UGA women's season tickets are $25. That is ridiculous and the UGA men's team is horrible, which charges a ton more.

15. rightwingprofessor - October 07, 2009 at 09:29 am

Oh my God what morons, these authors really think that equally ranked men's and women's teams will have equal fan interest? No way! At the University of Georgia the men's team rarely makes the top 25. The women's team is a perennial top 10 team. Men's tickets are far more expensive yet they still draw bigger crowds. You think the women at elite places like UConn want ticket prices raised to $30 so they can plan in front of empty arenas to suit the hordes of feminists? I think not. If anything the discrimination is against the men, who would surely have more fans in the seats if the tickets were as cheap as for the women's games.

16. erikjensen - October 08, 2009 at 02:39 pm

Kim, what is your evidence that "women ARE as good as the men?" Can the UConn women's team beat the UConn men's team? If not, then they simply aren't as good. If you contend that it is an aesthetic preference, then couldn't I make the argument that a community college has a women's basketball team that is "as good as UConn's". How about a 6' and under team or an over 40 team? What if they are ranked #1 in their category? If they aren't as good in my opinion, am I a heightist and an agist? Should they charge the same as Division 1 men?

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