In some sports, two teams compete against each other for a set amount of time (e.g. soccer, basketball) or another fixed quantity (like baseball). In those sports, do men's teams score more points on average (against each other) than women's teams, or vice versa? Or is there not any noticeable difference?

For example, take the last editions of the FIFA (soccer) World Cups for women:

  • 2015 (2.81 goals per match)
  • 2011 (2.69 goals per match)
  • 2007 (3.47 goals per match)

and for men:

  • 2014 (2.67 goals per match)
  • 2010 (2.27 goals per match)
  • 2006 (2.3 goals per match)

The women score more goals per match than their male counterparts. Is this common throughout football, or just a coincidence? And how about other sports?

If there are any sports where women's matches last longer/shorter than men's, e.g. 30 minutes instead of 40, I'd expect the statistics to compensate for that; it's really the 'goals per minute' that I'm after.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In soccer it's due to the much bigger difference between the best teams and the others. While in men's world cups it's kinda rare to outscore a team by 5-6 goals it's even likely for the women to outscore an opponent by 10 goals. In competitions with more equal teams you won't see that many goals anymore.

The following chart shows the difference of goals per match for the German Bundesliga. Last year the men even scored more, while the female teams' performance difference was on an equal level (Thanks to the Hamburger SV taking beatings regularly). Unlike the men's league the women's league always has one or two teams getting beat up badly, thus increasing the statistics. (13/14 it was Sindelfingen with 4:123 goals, which led to the 3,95 goals per match)

bundesliga men/women

[Graph source (German)]

If you look at handball you won't see a difference that big. This is because the teams are not that different. You still have the best regularly beating the not-so-good teams, but the difference between men and women is gone.

For example last year's record of goals per match from Germany:

League  |  Men  |  Women
  1       53.96    54.57
  2       53.41    53.59
  3       59.90    52.30

[Results taken from here (German)]

So it's no general "problem" of the gender. It just depends on the performance difference within a competition.

This seems like a really broad question since there are many, many sports (and, in some, lower scores are better, e.g. golf or race times.)

However, since basketball was specifically mentioned, it appears that the opposite is true for college basketball in the United States. According to the NCAA, men's basketball averages 75 points per game, while women's basketball averages 67 points per game.

Baseball was also mentioned, but it's unusual to have women's baseball leagues (at least here in the U.S.,) so there probably aren't meaningful numbers to compare for baseball. Women's leagues typically play softball instead of baseball (or, again, at least this is the case in the U.S.)

  • Is women's basketball played with the same net heights as men's basketball at that level? I suspect that specific disparity might have more to do with the simple fact of height making it much easier to score in basketball, rather than it being a case of defence being more relatively powerful than offence in the women's leagues. – Sellyme Dec 19 '17 at 11:08
  • @SebastianLamerichs Yes, I'm pretty sure it's 10 feet for both men and women. So, yes, relative to men's basketball, this is an offensive disadvantage to women's basketball. – reirab Dec 19 '17 at 15:45

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