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Inclusivity on the Court

We go to the Women’s Big 12 tournament every year and have seen first-hand how Kansas City promotes women’s sports.

Between the smells of popcorn, the loud shrill of referees’ whistles and the bright jersey colors, the Big 12 women’s post-season tournament is always a thrill. What we didn’t realize was how much this Kansas City-hosted set of games helps promote women’s sports.

This tournament decides the champion of the Big 12 conference, a Division I group of mostly Midwestern teams, like KU, Iowa State and Texas. This competition is extremely important to the teams because it can predict success in the NCAA tournament.

STA basketball coach Kiera Hardy also sees the importance of the Big 12 tournament.

“It showcases how talented women’s sports is, specifically basketball,” Hardy said. “I think it is a great stage here in Kansas City, with very loyal fans. It’s just a great production every time the women step on the floor.”

With help from several sponsors and volunteers, Kansas City hosts the Big 12 tournament each year. One of the sponsors of the Women’s tournament is Win for KC, a non-profit organization promoting women and girls in sports. This organization is extremely important to Kansas city; girls’ sports camps, marathons and other events are often organized by Win for KC.

Previously, the tournament had been set up to be at the same time as the men’s at Municipal Hall downtown. This was problematic because a majority of people watching basketball downtown were supporting the men.

For example, when we went and ate in the Power and Light District, the TVs were on the men’s game and many people were engaged with them. Now, the women have their own week at the T-Mobile center, which promotes attendance and attention.

This is a huge advancement for women’s sports in Kansas City. However, previous attendees, while acknowledging the positives, still see improvements to be made.

“I think Big 12 representatives should tap into some of the schools,” Hardy said. “I know they send emails, but they should start bringing teams or Big 12 representatives to different schools, promoting it.”

Despite lacking school promotion, the women’s tournament has gained more viewers over time. Many more people are learning the value of the Big 12 women’s basketball.

In our experience, each year’s attendance has increased. The first year we went, we could move all the way to the front few seats and no one would notice. Last year, however, sports fans filled certain sections of Municipal Hall. Iowa State fans, for example, filled rows, brought signs and cheered extremely loudly.

Kansas City has done a great job through the years for inclusivity in sports.

“You are starting to see an increase in women’s and girls basketball, but soccer and lacrosse are also taking off,” Hardy said. “The variety of sports available to student athletes is amazing. Women are able to play football or wrestle, an it’s showcasing how talented women are.”

Within this variety of sports, Kansas City has made it a priority to promote female athletics.

The KC Current, the city’s women’s pro soccer team, proves huge milestones for women’s sports. Their stadium, located downtown, is the first women’s soccer stadium ever built.

Kansas City has also developed plans for a pro volleyball team in 2025. If these plans follow through, this will be another example of promoting women’s sports in Kansas City.

Another facet of female athletics in Kansas City is the abundance of youth sports. There are many leagues for girls to join the sport of their choice, such as school parochial leagues and clubs. Local organizations also host national youth volleyball and basketball tournaments at places as prominent as Bartle Hall.

This year, we will be continuing the tradition of supporting women’s sports and attend the Big 12 tournament this weekend. Keep an eye out for an upcoming gallery on the DNO, and consider buying a ticket for a game or two!

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About the Contributors
Stella Baska, Staff Writer
Hey, Vogue (or a smaller, equally good publication)! My name is Stella Baska. I’m a sophomore and this is my very first year on The Dart. I love reading, playing sports and watching sitcoms, my favorite being “New Girl” or “Community.” My go-to coffee order is an iced latte with lavender syrup, which will be a necessity in my next year of being a staff member. Have the best day!
Lauren Rando, Staff Writer
Hi, there! My name is Lauren Rando and I am a sophomore at STA. This is my first year on The Dart staff and I’m super excited to be a part of this team! When I’m not at school, you can find me playing basketball and soccer, reading or watching a good movie with my dog. I also love to travel and try new places with my friends and family. I know this year is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to get started!

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