Differences in Viewership of Men’s and Women’s College Sports

My research question is: Is there evidence to suggest that there exists gender discrimination from consumers in the market for college sports? I plan to examine differences in attendance of comparable men’s and women’s college sports to see what factors can explain the gap and whether they are the responsibility.


Becker’s theory of discrimination divides differences in compensation for labor into two categories: employer discrimination and consumer discrimination. If this situation falls into employer discrimination, this means that a gap in attendance is explained by universities preference men’s sports over women’s sports and are “compensated” with less funding or lower publicity. Becker’s theory predicts that schools that discriminate would eventually lose consumers to other teams and thus either change their preferences or perish. In other words, the market would remove the discriminatory preference over time. Consumer discrimination would mean that a gap is caused by schools responding to consumer’s preference for men’s teams over women’s teams. This type of discrimination is not handled by the market pressures and is much more difficult to combat. If I find a attendance gap, this likely suggests that consumers discriminate in attending sporting events not by skill but gender.


To accomplish this, I will use attendance data from the NCAA’s statistics website for comparable sports that include both genders (men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball, etc.) For each team I will include some metric of success or skill such as win percentage, as this will have an effect on attendance. I will then compare the attendance controlled for success for each school and sport to see if such a gap still exists overall in each sport.