Why Triton Women Win More Often

If you want to play here, you must be one of a select few with the grades to be offered a spot, and the means to pay for membership in our country club.
It makes sense then that the sports UCSD excels in and the athletes we attract come from the country club.

Swimming, baseball, golf, track & field and tennis are all sports Tritons historically dominate in the CCAA, while we receive that swift kick in the rear in basketball and soccer — correction, men’s basketball and men’s soccer.

No sport is free, but inequalities among price tags are obvious. The “country club” sports — baseball, swimming & diving, fencing, tennis, golf — all require large sums of money and time compared to sports like basketball and soccer. For instance, a nice baseball bat will set you back up to $400, plus a nice glove for another $100 or more, plus bags, cleats and balls. For soccer or basketball, you need a $10 ball and a court or field (or dirt patch or alley way).

In short, we get the athletes who can pay to play their expensive sports.

The difference is that in men’s basketball and soccer, you can get good without money. This is why much cheaper state schools, which offer substantial scholarships (at least in the CCAA) are drawing the best players, leaving us with only those who can both afford to pay for a UC and get admitted to the school on grades alone.

All of this can be seen in UCSD’s statistics — we have higher SAT scores and higher U.S. News and World ranking than any other CCAA school.

I say men’s basketball and soccer because the demographics of the NCAA women’s sports are drastically different than their male counterparts.

For women, I think it can be said that the pool of collegiate athletes is smaller, and so there is more emphasis on exclusive, expensive club teams in the Olympic Development Program for soccer and AAU teams for basketball. These are the athletes UCSD brings in.

If my theory is correct, we should see the sports with a lower economic cost competing at a lower level at UCSD than those sports that require a higher level of monetary commitment.

Men’s basketball has only had three winning seasons since our move to Division II in 2001, while the women’s team has had nine winning seasons in the same span.

The same can be seen with soccer. In 2001, the women’s soccer team won the National Championship and has had a winning record every year since, as well as a handful of CCAA Championship titles while the men’s team has not garnered a title.

This disparity between men’s and women’s athletics begs the question: Why is there such a gap in the level of success?

Other than the socio-economic factor, grades are also a big part of male vs. female athletics. For men, there is a larger competitive pool from which to draw, driving the price way down relative to women’s sports. This large demand for men’s sports explains the subsequent relative cheapness when compared to the same sport for women. The high cost of a female sport makes for even fewer female athletes with the time and resources to become competitive.

The few athletes who can do well in school while also doing well in their sport become the only athletes UCSD can attract. But this is a trend seen throughout collegiate athletics. In a study conducted by “the sport journal” analyzing the aggregate grade point averages of both men’s and women’s teams at a small Division II university, in all of their nine sports, the female athletes outperformed their male counterparts. For whatever reason, female athletes outperform men in the classroom. And taking into account UCSD’s high academic threshold, the male athletic pool from which UCSD can pick from gets
drastically diminished.

Thus we come to the fact that, on average, our women’s teams are able to recruit good female athletes that not only kick ass on the field, but can get good grades in the classroom as well. Men on the other hand, can get away with playing on a higher level while sacrificing their athletic achievement, leading to fewer male athletes with good grades.

We’re making rather large assumptions here, but in sum 1.) You need good grades to get into UCSD. 2.) Because female athletes on average get better grades, more competitive female athletes want to come to UCSD in comparison to the men. 3.) This inequity is due in part to our absence of athletic scholarships, taking away the pay to play mentality that all athletes must overcome at UCSD. 4.) This leads to a deterring of top-tier male athletes with poor grades, while an average female with good grades will be more likely to receive and accept an academic scholarship to play at UCSD.