I'm one of those pathetic old guys who never outgrew his sport, so I've been absorbed by the Olympic Trials for swimming this week. (I even watched some of the heats.)
I've corresponded with a few fellow swim fans, and noted that a couple of them are simply less interested in the women's events. I can understand why they'd feel this way: women, are after all, inferior athletes. Why bother to watch someone swim a 100 meter butterfly in 56 seconds when you can watch someone do it in 50 seconds?
My swimming friends aren't the only ones who feel this way. There's a reason the WNBA has never gained the traction the NBA has.
There are certain sports where the women do attract as much attention as men, and make roughly as much money. Tennis comes to mind. Of course, much of the big money in tennis is made from endorsements, and those are as dependent on the looks of the female player as on her playing ability. This, of course, drives the feminists crazy.
But that gets to the heart of why male sports stars tend to have more commercial potential: male athletes, for the most part, represent the male ideal. The ideal swimming build, for instance, is tall, wide-shouldered and muscular. But while that may be the male ideal, it's not necessarily the female one. And high testosterone body types tends to dominate in most sports.
So while women may swoon over male athletes, men tend not to get as excited about female ones.
That said, you don't have to be attracted to the participants in order to appreciate their achievements. And, as far as those achievements go, it's just a matter of using a different yardstick. And if you're using that different set of standards, it's just as exciting when Katie Ledecky breaks a world record as when Michael Phelps does.
If you're a diehard fan of a sport, following the women as well as the men gives you twice as much to follow. Which is why I was surprised when those friends mentioned that they were less interested in the women's events.