Within the sport of basketball, there are multiple differences between the men’s and women’s game. They include style of play, rules and regulations, as well as overall popularity. Think about it, would you rather watch a man dunk or a woman shoot a layup?

Men’s college and professional basketball has been a mainstream sport in the United States since the 1940s. Women have been playing since around the same time, but did not become popular until the mid 1980s.

Rules and Regulations

First, let us look at the difference between the rules between the women’s and men’s game.

  1. Halves vs. Quarters: The men’s game is played in two 20 minute halves. There is not a mandatory break between at 10 minutes like it is in the women’s games. It’s crazy that even in the ruling they believe women cannot last as long on the court without a break. Accept in the NBA were there are four quarters, but let’s be honest here, it’s probably just to make the game go longer for more advertisements and make people spend more money at the venues, not due to their lack of fitness. It is like the associations that make the rulings believe men are more fit then women.
  1. Ball Size: The size of the ball in the men’s game is between 29 ½ and 30 inches. The basketball for the women’s game is exactly one inch smaller then the men’s at 28 ½-29. On average, women’s hands appear to be smaller, so it’s compensating for their lack of physical abilities.
  1. Shot Clock: The men’s shot clock in college is 35 seconds, while women’s is 30 for WNBA and college. In the NBA, the shot clock is changed to 24 seconds. If the skill increases in both the men’s and women’s game, why doesn’t the women’s shot clock change as well?
  1. Three-Point Shot: A three-point basket is an important part to both the men’s and women’s game. Within the college game, the men’s arc is 20 feet 9 inches while the women’s is 19 feet 9 inches. The arc is increased by two inches for both the NBA and WNBA. Again, I’m assuming the marking for the arc was placed shorter for the women’s because of “physical ability.” One foot?… Really… And you can’t blame the “women coaches” for the rule change. Honestly how many head coaches were women when the rule change occurred?… Men tend to believe women need help when compared to men.

Recruiting Styles

Basketball is the top played women’s sport in high school. It requires the most talent to play at the collegiate level due to the amount of athletes.

Sport High School Players Divison One Players HS/D1 Players
Men’s Basketball 541.1k 5.4k 101
Women’s Basketball 433.3 5.0 87
Women’s volleyball 429.6 5.0 85
Men’s Soccer 417.4 5.7 73
Women’s Softball 364.3 5.9 62

*credit to ESPN, NCAA

There are approximately 87 women high school basketball players for every one spot on a Division I NCAA roster. The only athletes who have a harder time finding a spot is men looking to play basketball, 101 to 1.

Also, think about the amount of men who leave college to play in the NBA early. The best male players in college basketball are most likely to leave early. In 2015, the NBA had 50 early entrants while the WNBA only had two.

So if equally speaking, the best talent in basketball for college is found in women’s game constantly.

Media Coverage

The coverage of women’s sports overall is terrible compared to men’s athletics. According to a statistic for SportsCenter, they only dedicated two percent of its total time to women’s sports. ESPN stated that basketball is the most shown women’s sport, contributing to the 7,500-hour total for all women’s athletics. So that means that 312.5 days in a year is contributed to women’s sports coverage on ESPN… The only way this statement is true is if they show volleyball, basketball, tennis, at 2 am and on ESPN 6. If I ever see a women’s game on ESPN, it must be the championship game or a time of day where no one is available to watch it.

The only way to really correct the imbalance is to bring more women into sports journalism. Over 95 percent of sports journalism world is male dominated anchors, analysts, and station managers. Men want to cover male sports; women want to showcase female sports. Also, the media needs to start pushing outlets to invest the same time and money into female athletes as they do with men. That includes doing features on more females, giving them more air time, and having more excitement during sports talk shows.

I do not think we need to hear another story or another question about an athlete’s motherhood. Also, stop focusing on their emotional and personal side in general. If it is not newsworthy in the topic of the game, then focus on the skill just like the men. Some men have the issue when the law comes into play, but at that point it’s a public interest.

How about just in general?

Styles of play in the men’s and women’s game vary widely and depend on the level of play. Generally, women’s games are perceived to be slower, less action. Men’s games tend to do more scoring. According to ESPN, men’s teams score about 5 more points per game at the college level. Also, men shoot better from the field, but free-throw shooting is about even. Think about it, men can dunk and play above the rim, majority of women struggle to do this at all.

Yes, men’s teams often have more attendance to their games but that is not always the case. UConn’s women’s team sells out their stadium just as often as the men’s team. Also, Tennessee’s women’s team has more in attendance then their men’s team- it’s all about who is a winning program.

Concluding thoughts

There is no doubt that there are multiple differences between the men’s and the women’s game. Rules, style of play, popularity… They are two different games. But here’s an ending fact to think about:

March Madness is only madness for the men’s side- women’s side is execution and consistency.