The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

Women’s sports are changing the fabric of Naperville North

Photo by Olivia Norbut

Basketball records were broken on the night of Friday, April 5 when 14.2 million people tuned into the UConn vs. Iowa women’s Final Four game. The game now holds the record for the most-watched basketball game in ESPN history – and among these millions of viewers were countless Naperville North students, including junior Anna Carlson, who discovered her interest in women’s sports during the 2023 basketball season.

“I hosted a watch party with my friends on the night of the Final Four game. We had been following along all tournament with brackets, which made the game super intense and fun to watch,” Carlson said. 

Carlson’s interest in women’s sports, like so many others, was piqued this year thanks to the popularity of college basketball. But what many fail to realize is that this revolution of women’s sports isn’t new; 2023 was also historic for women’s sports. The Nebraska women’s volleyball team drew a crowd of over 92,000 people on Aug. 30, 2023 – making their doubleheader the most attended women’s sporting event. Junior Sophie Preece, a member of the track and field team, is thrilled to see these changes happen in real time.

“As an athlete, it’s always been frustrating to me to see how women’s sports have been overlooked for so long. I’ve watched women’s sports for many years, but this year, my friends finally wanted to watch with me, and it made the whole experience better,” Preece said.

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Women’s sports have historically garnered less interest and viewership than men’s, especially at the professional level. However, after the 2023-24 season, these numbers seem to be changing. Not only did 2.4 million people watch the 2024 WNBA draft (beating the previous record by 1.8 million), but a study done by Nielsen Sports in 2018 found that 84% of general sports fans have an interest in women’s sports, 51% of those being male. A report by Wasserman Media Group states that media coverage of women’s sports has tripled over the last five years. 

The national interest in women’s sports has inspired students like Carlson to take an interest in NNHS girls’ sports. Carlson, who doesn’t play any sports herself, hasn’t attended many sporting events besides football for the last two years. This year, she decided to branch out and was glad that she did.

“I went to a few girl’s basketball games this year, and a girl’s soccer game a couple of weeks ago. They were way more fun than I thought they would be, and I just kind of wondered to myself, ‘Why haven’t I gone to any of these before?’” Carlson said.

With college basketball done for the season, Preece worries that women’s sports will begin to fade again in popularity. However, with the increase in media coverage this year, she hopes that this isn’t the case.

“I think what women’s sports really needed was something to draw everybody’s attention. Now that it finally got that, there’s nowhere to go but up,” Preece said.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Norbut
Olivia Norbut, Staff Writer
Olivia Norbut is a junior at Naperville North and is excited to be a writer for The North Star. She is looking forward to working with different types of media and creating unique journalistic content. Outside of The North Star, Olivia is on the tennis team, and she is a member of Student Government, Model UN, Top Dawgs and Environmental Science Club.

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