Q: I heard there are more female athletes in the Magic Valley than males, but it seems that sporting goods stores target male athletes. Why is that?
A: “I would say 20 years ago, this question probably had some merit,” said Pat Donnelley, president and co-owner of Donnelley Sports, which has been in business since 1975. “However, in this day and age the industry has changed.”
“The National Sporting Goods Association meticulously tracks trends, both buying and participation, in our industry,” Donnelley said. As a group we are acutely aware of female participation trends across the country and have dedicated ourselves to the sale and service of female athletes. Because of this awareness, our industry which includes dealers such as Donnelley Sports and vendors that supply us with our goods have addressed the female customer.”
There are many gender-specific products available to women athletes, Donnelley said.
“Equipment has been specialized to fit the female athlete and meet their performance specifications,” he said. “The vast majority of our vendors also provide dual fits and equipment for both male and female sports participants.”
Donnelley said that at his store, sales to female customers account for roughly 40 percent of its overall sales.
“When we had our retail store in town, we carried many items specific to female athletes,” he said. “And now as a wholesale team dealer we still carry and sell many of those items.”
“Schools are tasked both at the high school level and college level through Title IX to provide equal opportunity for both male and female students,” said Joel Bate, College of Southern Idaho’s athletic director. “At the College of Southern Idaho, our programs reflect this balance as opportunities in both men’s and women’s programs are equal, and monies spent in ‘like’ programs provide equal opportunities.”
“The numbers of scholarship athletes in baseball/softball, men’s and women’s basketball and cross country, are equal,” Bate said. “Volleyball balances out the larger numbers of men’s rodeo vs. women’s rodeo, as there are many more events for men’s rodeo than there are for women.”
Lonnie Ahlquist, activities director for Canyon Ridge High School said there were 269 girl athletes at the school and 410 boys.
Twin Falls Parks and Recreation’s coed adult sports teams are equal male to female split. There are 2,180 youth male athletes and 1,545 youth female athletes.
“Most of the women play on both women’s and coed volleyball teams, and two-thirds of the men who play men’s softball also play on coed teams,” said Brandy Mason, recreation coordinator for youth sports for the city’s Parks & Recreation.
She said they “have tried repeatedly to bring back women’s adult basketball to the area and thought this year we had five teams, but only two signed up.”
“This just represents the city of Twin Falls Parks and Recreation adult and youth sports programs, it in no way reflects the entire sports realm within the city of Twin Falls. In both of our youth and adult programs, the male athletes outnumber the female athletes in most programs. We are only a small piece of a bigger whole, but in our world, the males historically outnumber the female athletes,” said Mason.
The YMCA and Twin Falls High School was unavailable to comment.
“Twenty years ago there wasn’t much thought given to producing and selling gender specific equipment and clothing,” Donnelley said. “Times have changed, and the ladies have shown there is a huge opportunity to deal with them.”