Why Don’t Men’s and Women’s Basketball Receive the Same Support?

By Whitney Bronson

MEAC champions. Multiple NCAA tournament appearances. One Division II NCAA tournament championship. The Hampton University women's basketball team has been a top contender in Division I basketball since joining the MEAC in 1995.

The men's basketball team has multiple NCAA tournament appearances, conference tournament championships and regular season championships. Both teams made it to the 2018 MEAC championship with a record of 21-4 in the conference. But one important factor stands out in a big way: the number of fans.

Nearly twice as many people attend men's basketball games. The women's team barely averaged 2,600 spectators for its 11 home games in the 2017-2018 season. Meanwhile, the men's team averaged 4,205. Overall, the average attendance at all (home and away) women's games is 1,696, while attendance at men's games averages 3,530 for all games.

The reasons are complicated, say those involved, including the way the games are marketed and advertised, differences in the way the teams play, scheduling of home games and – perhaps most concerning – gender bias.

Marketing and advertising appears to be handled equitably, with an equal amount of public relations time spent on both men's and women's team.

Both are advertised throughout the city of Hampton, on campus and on print and online platforms.

"We try to as the athletic marketing team to make it more equal because they are equally as good," said junior Marshall Bennett. "The women's team has more conference championships than the men."

Even Bennett said he is concerned about attendance.

"We don't understand why the people don't come to see the women as much as the men."

Some fans say they enjoy both teams equally, but others say they prefer men's games because they are more aggressive, faster-paced and more dramatic, both on and off the court. The fans respond more enthusiastically at the men's games.

Lizzie Allen is an avid basketball fan who loves both teams. She has been to all of the men's and women's games this year.

"I played ball in high school, so it's kind of my way of staying connected," said Allen. They're both good teams, so it's actually entertaining to watch."

But other students go to men's games more because they say there is more action and it is more entertaining. Men can run faster, jump higher, and have more strength. These traits make the game more interesting, some say.

"Men and women are not valued the same in this country but that's a bigger issue," said Allen.

This is where the conversation gets complicated. Gender bias appears to be part of the answer to uneven attendance.

"Students go to men's games because of preference," said senior guard K'Lynn Willis. "The preference is always men's over women's and if people prefer the NBA over the WNBA, they'll go to an NBA game."

One big difference is the use of dunking. In women's professional and college games, dunking is extremely rare. But the crowds seem to enjoy dunking from their enthusiastic reactions.

"A lot of people just want to see men's over women's because of athleticism. Women are more fundamentally sound, but athletically wise it's more appealing to see men dunk than a woman shoot," Willis said.

Scheduling may also hurt attendance at women's games. During the 2017-2018 season, there were more double headers for men's and women's basketball games. This means that on certain days, the women's team will play first and the men's team will play after. The women's game is never scheduled in the prime time on those days.

The women's games usually start around 4:00-5:00 p.m. and the men's games around 6:00-7:00 p.m. The early start time may hurt attendance by students who have afternoon classes, and people who are working or just getting off work. The on-campus cafeteria also does not open until 5:30 p.m. for dinner, making some fans choose between hunger and the game. Staying for both takes more than four hours, which may be too much of a commitment for some fans.

Scheduling will change once the transition to the Big South conference is complete. There will be far fewer double-headers. Only three are scheduled for the 2018-2019 season. In addition, the women will play more games in the evening and on Saturdays. This scheduling change could help increase attendance at women's basketball games.

The men's basketball players enthusiastically support the women's teams and attend games whenever possible. They feel as though they learn more by watching women's basketball and support their counterparts in the basketball program.

One of the men's players enjoys watching the women play and tries to attend as many home games as he can.

"I actually learn from watching women's basketball," said senior guard Lysander Bracey. "Women have more fundamentals than men's basketball. Supporting them is important and we should all do that."

One theory of why people support men's basketball more is tradition. Men's basketball has been around longer and has developed a larger following. Hampton's women's team was formed in 1975 and men's team in 1967. The same parallel exists in professional basketball, where the NBA has a 50-year head start.

"We're all doing the same thing. Putting in all this time and doing all this work. I think there has to be more support for the women," Bracy said. "It's unfair."

Viewership could also be increased by changing the rules and regulations of women's basketball to make it more entertaining. For instance, the rims could be lowered so that taller women players could dunk. It's a controversial topic because some women players find the idea insulting.

"We're constantly being compared to men. We have people excelling at a ten-foot rim and now you're asking us to lower the rim so we can continually be compared ..." said Los Angeles Sparks player Nneka Ogwumike, during an interview with The Undefeated. "... now someone like me, who has done what she's done, has to relearn the game ...."

Some people believe that just having the conversation will help create a change.

"I just feel like more women athletes at every level needs to speak on it," said junior guard Ashley Bates. "The more people speak on it the more it is seen."

The Revamping of True Branding

By Lindsay Keener

HAMPTON, VIRGINIA - Brand757, the student-run public relations company operating through the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, has a problem. How does a company sell itself when it only has the promise of the future?

With no recent portfolio to show clients, Brand757 is re-organizing and selling itself on the skills of current student staff including writing, photography, video, social media management and lots of creativity.

A large portion of the rebranding will include forming teams and attracting new clients to build that much-needed portfolio.

Ironically, the top client of Brand757 is Brand757 because it needs an overhaul, said Michael Watkins, executive director (pictured above right). The second client is Scripps Comm Week in April. Events will include a Scripps Ball fundraiser. Brand757 will be responsible for programming and marketing.

Next semester, the agency plans to do pro bono work for some clients to add to the portfolio.

Most of the 20-some members are new, attracted by the idea of getting expeirence working at a student-run agnecy.

"Public relations has always been of great interest to me. Knowing that I'll get real world experience while I'm in college is amazing," said Taylor Harris, a third year strategic communications major from St. Louis, Missouri.

Brand757 has applied to be an official organization of Hampton University. That way students in other majors can join.

"The goal is to really open up Brand757 to other majors so that the club itself can tap into other resources," said Professor Reynolds, the agency's academic advisor.

Brand757 made its debut in 2015 with a public announcement on the Scripps website, but then lost momentum.Watkins said the problem was the small number of members.

The original announcement promised "full account teams, providing large and small businesses a full range of PR and brand services, such as media relations, collateral development, publicity, communications planning, social media, graphic design, web design, and event planning."

Today, students are taking Brand757 back to its roots.

"There's so much we have to work on as an organization," Watkins said. "We were on hiatus. Because of that we have to recreate who we are. We can't reach clients if we aren't established on campus."

After solidifying the agency as an official campus organization, executives are hoping Hampton University students across campus will see its value.

"Students who are majoring in other fields can grow their resumes and knowledge base," Reynolds said.

Brand757 members hope the new structure and expanded membership will help the company get new clients.

"Those would include IT companies, the Scripps Howard website and running WHOV's social platform," Reynolds said.

Those who join Brand757 must be willing to work their way up.

"The organization is structured around positions," Reynolds said. "Freshman and sophomores are in a shadow period, learning the ropes so they can reach the higher positions by the end of their academic career."

Then, Reynolds said, they must be willing to pass their wisdom along. The goal, Reynolds said, is for students to teach the incoming members to ensure the organization has longevity.

"You are creating your legacy within this organization and how it is going to be known across this campus, "Reynolds said.

Brand757 is on its way to becoming a stable organization in the Hampton Roads community. With solutions in place, agency members are confident they will make up for lost time. They are sold on Brand757.

To Budget or Not to Budget

By Niyah Heaggans

During Homecoming season at Hampton University, with its week's worth of expensive parties and high-priced networking, budgeting poses a challenge for students.

The week kicks off with a carnival-style festival and ends with a football game. In between there is a fashion show, a step show, and off-campus parties. Of nine campus events, only four are free.

"My budget is tight. I'm a broke college student with no job," said Antionette Gerald, a freshman at Hampton University.

Click here for 10 Budgeting Tips

This is Gerald's first homecoming and while she appreciates her parents giving her $200 to use, that has to last the whole week. She plans to attend the football game, bonfire, concert, and one off-campus party.

That will cost $45 but she will also have transportation costs, such as Lyft or Uber to Norfolk and Portsmouth, where the parties are being held.

"I want to have a good time and live my best college life," Gerald said.

Some students actually save during the summer just for Homecoming. Ajeya Hughes saved $700 in addition to the $100 allowance her parents give her each month.

Hughes plans on attending several events on campus and off. She's spent $100 so far, which wasn't in her budget. In spite of under-budgeting, she's going to spend all she needs to have her best homecoming.

"I spent way more than I intended but, hey, it's college," Hughes said.

Despite going over budget, Hughes wants the full extent of "the authentic Hampton Homecoming experience," so the money is a minor hiccup in her plans.

Upperclassmen say they do a better job of budgeting based on their experience with previous homecomings. Junior Alexandra Howard has found ways to save money by setting priorities.

Howard lives off campus. Without a meal plan, her main priority is buying groceries and paying her rent. She plans to do her own hair and nails to save money. She will also carpool with friends.

Howard has more free time to attend events this year because she is no longer in the band. As a member of the Marching Force, her Homecoming didn't start until the Saturday after the football game.

During Howard's freshman and sophomore year, the band held practice every day from 4:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. By the time the band was released, most events were either almost over or band members were too tired to attend.

By not being in the band she has no restrictions on events, therefore, there's no restrictions on money.

"It being my first year not in the band, I want to get the full undergrad experience and enjoy the HU family," Howard said.

The men on campus typically spend less on clothing during Homecoming, and some say they don't care as much as the women on campus.

For women, Homecoming is about getting dressed to the nines and being seen. The narrative for the men is just having a good time.

"I want to make it my best one, but I'm not too pressed about it," said Reginald Baker.

Baker is a senior who has little free cash and is also saving for graduation. He doesn't have a job, but he makes money providing rides for freshman and playing piano at a local church, and his grandparents help him out here and there.

He plans on attending two parties and the football game but complained about the rise in event ticket prices since his freshman year.

"Tickets cost way too much this year. A party that would be $10 or $15 was $30 a month in advance," Baker said.

He saved money by doing his Homecoming shopping in the summer as well as going to thrift stores to score deals.

Homecoming season can be overwhelming for new students because college is a new experience and college homecomings are different from high school. Still, it's possible to have a good time on a budget, students say.

"I stayed way under my budget and just want to have a great time with my girls," said junior Ayanna Johnson

After reviewing past experiences, students say the key to homecoming budgeting is simply planning and partying within their means.

10 Budgeting Tips

1. Thrift shop for your new outfits
2. Buy your tickets when they raise the price once
3. Look for sales when online shopping
4. Mix and match clothes you already have
5. Choose two major parties to go to
6. Buy outfits you can wear more than once
7. Check group messages for ticket deals
8. Gather your friends and plan your week
9. Be reasonable
10. Party within your means

Outdated Technology Makes Hampton Vulnerable to Hackers: Puts students and staff at risk

By Mark Edwards

Hampton University's technological infrastructure is grossly outdated and allows for multiple vulnerabilities that put students, staff, and the university at risk. The system is so easily hacked, it allows anyone with a basic understanding of computer science can get into its secure areas.

"I really can just take anything if I wanted to," said Wesley Freeman, a senior computer science major.

Armed with only basic social engineering to get users' personal information, hackers can then access their accounts. Outdated software provides a window into servers. Password and ID numbers are often visible when logging in to student resources making them readily available to hackers, according to multiple computer science majors and cyber security professor Dr. Danny Barnes. Because Hampton runs an unsecure network, eavesdroppers can observe on-screen activity from a different location.

A hacker with just a person's name can access that person's personal information. For example, a Google search for "Hampton password recovery" leads to Hampton University's password reset page. Entering a name and answering two security questions, allows the password to be reset. The new password gives access to the person's Blackboard account, university email, and provides a portal to their Touchnet, the website used to track and make payments on student accounts.

Answers to security questions are often easily found on social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Social media often includes things like birthdays, states where people were born and the names of pets. Also, in the Hampton system, if users can't answer the first set of security questions, they can keep refreshing until they find a question they can answer.

"It's crippling easy (to use social engineering). All you need is someone's Facebook," said one computer science student.

Computer experts recommend not using Hampton's auto-generated security questions, suggesting instead that password resets be controlled by administrators. For instance, the name "William Harvey" appears four times on the password reset page. None have security questions associated with them, making it unlikely anyone could reset the password electronically. Those who don't use security questions must appear in person at the library to have their password reset.

People who understand code can get further into Hampton's system, because there is a pattern to how student ID numbers, blackboard and InfoTech passwords are created. Each fall semester, administrators announce the standardized InfoTech password to a room full of freshman. Students can change their password at any time, but it automatically resets to the old password after a period of time.

"That's bad," Dr. Barnes said. "People can go in periodically and keep trying standard passwords that they knew were set at the beginning."

Hampton's standardized password has a minimum of six characters, but programs are readily available that can determine passwords with up to 15 characters. The predictability of these passwords helps the programs work faster.

BlackBoard passwords share this vulnerability because the BlackBoard website uses the university ID number as the user name. Then, the login page tells the user that the password is the first initial of the first and last name of the user followed by the last four numbers of the ID number. At least some university computers provide a dropdown menu of previous user ID numbers, essentially providing a foolproof means for logging in.

"They need a randomizer when they generate your generic or your login password," Dr. Barnes said. "I don't know why we don't have one yet."

A password randomizer does not follow such an easily hacked pattern. Instead, it randomly assigns characters. In addition, it can generate secure passwords over 15 characters, making it more difficult for a password-identifying program to crack. A randomizer would help protect students and staff from malicious programs.

Account security is just one of many vulnerabilities of the university's system. The technological infrastructure is also problematic. The server architecture makes it difficult to update the thousands of computers across campus. Outdated computers are dangerous because they can allow access into the server. An unprotected server leaves the entire system vulnerable to collapse.

Hampton runs on a client-server architecture, Barnes said. This means every staff computer is directly linked to the main server. If someone hacks one computer, they can get into the main server.

Dr. Barnes recommends a "thin-client architecture." This would let information from the server come to computers without putting the server at risk and would save Hampton money in the long run.

"If I need a new piece of software, what they have to do now is come to this terminal and upgrade it," said Barnes, "if we were on a thin-client architecture, all I'd have to do is put it on the server and push it to all the computers."

Pushing upgrades out fast is important for security. Many computers on campus run on outdated operating systems like Windows 7. They no-longer release patches for these software and known vulnerabilities are easily searchable.

Hampton's security issues follow a pattern of outdated systems that allow a laundry list of vulnerabilities. In some cases, Hampton can't enforce its own Appropriate Use of Technology Policy.

For instance, blocked websites can be accessed with a few tricks, like quickly refreshing the screen. In addition, programs can perform this task automatically. The university Wi-Fi can also be accessed during random grace periods when no password is required, making it available to the public, according to one computer science student.

It's difficult for students to feel safe on Hampton's network and the university doesn't allow students to have personal routers on campus. A personal router allows users to be on a more private network, making it less likely they could be hacked. Some students use their computers as personal hotspots, filtering Hampton's Wi-Fi through their computer to bypass Hampton's server restrictions. This provides a level of security that helps protects them from being hacked through the Hampton system. But, it also allows them to bypass university restrictions.

"I don't know how to protect myself on Hampton's internet," Rabekkah Maxwell a Sophomore kinesiology major.

Dr. Barnes recommends using a passphrase, a memorable sentence the user doesn't share with anyone and that has no personal affiliation.

"Going into a thin-client or a zero-client architecture and improving our Wi-Fi are the biggest things we can do on the electronic side that I that would help," Dr. Barnes said.