When women’s hockey player Melissa Wronzberg laces up her skates for a game, it’s usually hours before her male counterparts, thanks to Ryerson’s scheduling, which gives men’s teams prime times on the rink and field.
While the men’s hockey team usually plays games at 7 or 7:30 p.m., when more people are available to attend games, the women’s team gets stuck playing right in the middle of the day, usually 1 or 2 p.m.
And it’s not just the women’s hockey team being shafted. The women’s volleyball and soccer teams both play regularly during the day, while the men hit the court and field hours later.
According to Ontario University Athletics executive director Bryan Crawford, women play before men because of their market value.
Simply put, more people come out to watch men’s sports teams.
Wronzberg says she is aware of the imbalance.
“I presume the women play before because they’re hoping that people will come watch the end of the women’s game before they watch the men’s game,” she said.
“It may work for basketball where they play one after another, but for hockey, there’s such a big gap between I don’t think that anyone ever would be that early.”
She says that most of the female fanbase consists of excited parents and dedicated friends, provided they don’t have classes to be at.
Ryan McKenna, a sports broadcaster with the Ryerson Rams, agrees many of the fans that come to women’s games come near the end, and only to grab their seats for the men’s game right after.
Although it is common for women’s teams to play before men’s teams, some female athletes find it detrimental to their play to have games so early.
Earlier games means athletes are more likely to lose sleep and miss class, said Wronzberg.
“I like having a few meals before my game. Earlier playing times throw me off a little because I have to make sure I wake up early enough so I can eat breakfast and lunch in pretty much two or three hours because preparing for a game, especially hockey, you need to have a lot of nutrition.”
Nick Asquini, the varsity operations co-ordinator for Ryerson, says that although there is no plan to put the women’s games earlier, if that’s what the fans want, that’s what they’ll eventually get.