You Watch Sports Like A Girl!

As a female sports fan, you often get challenged about your fandom. Sometimes, people try to make you “prove it” by asking you trivia questions. Or, like the NFL, MLB or NHL, they assume that you’re only in it for the rhinestones and pink jerseys. People assume whatever you’re saying can’t be right, that your stats are wrong or that you just in it for the cute boys, fun mascots or jersey colors.

Follow the jump for more…

You want me to prove how hard-core I am? This was my view Saturday night. That’s LSU on the left, Georgia on the right and the Brewers on the ipad. Should I keep this pic in my phone’s favorites to whip out anytime someone questions me? Is this like the opposite of a man card?

This topic has been covered on Ladies… before, but since that was three years ago and nothing seems to have changed, it seemed like a good idea to revisit the issue.

We’ve talked about ESPNW before – but just to make sure our concerns haven’t changed, I headed over there. We’re in the final few weeks of baseball, pro football started this week. There are two games on Monday night football as I write this.

Four of the “main” stories on the page are on the US Open, as are the top 5 “headlines.” There are 3 “main” stories about 9/11 and one about sailing.

Other than a scoreboard in the bottom corner, there’s not one mention of the MLB, NFL or college football.

Giving credit where it’s due, though, the front page of ESPNW does feature this column by LZ Granderson that raises an interesting point: In any case, it was clear that despite (or because) of the social changes happening all around, there are still a fair number of men who want or need things like sports to remain as “manly” as possible.

He’s discussing the lack of women doing anything other than sideline reporting at sports events, but the hypothesis certainly extends to this discussion.

Are female sports fans brought into question because we are intimidating the men? Are we making sports less “manly” for them? Is that where their problem with us as fans extends from?

Or is that taking it too far?

I have a lot of girl sports fans friends and obviously we Ladies… are rather involved, so maybe I’m insulated – but are girl sports fans really so rare these days? I know I got weird looks covering high school football games in Louisiana 10 years ago, but I’d like to think that sort of thing isn’t so odd anymore.

Why is it such a shock that a girl could be in to sports?

I guess this isn’t a new rant, but man, does it get old to constantly have to defend yourself. Apparently I’m idealistic to think that in 2011 I should just be able to be a fan and I shouldn’t have to justify it or prove it. Why is it still so damn surprising?

Miss Minda pointed to me about this blog post on ESPNW and it’s got some great points about women and what they want from sports and sports TV. It also includes these great stats:

And since we’re talking about sports, women account for:

-47.2 % of major league soccer fans

-46.5% of MLB fans

-43.2% of NFL fans

-40.8% of fans at NHL games

-37% of NBA fans

-Women purchase 46% of official NFL merchandise

-Women spent 80% of all sport apparel dollars and controlled 60% of all money spent on men’s clothing

-Women comprise about one-third (34%) of the adult audience for ESPN sport event programs

Clearly the numbers say that we women sports fans aren’t that unusual. So why are we treated like animals in the zoo?

Maybe I’m not adding anything to the conversation, but I’m determined to continue to have it.



3 thoughts on “You Watch Sports Like A Girl!

  1. I’ll never shy away from this discussion! I was part of the 2008 Ladies… posts on the issue, and it’s still a Thing. I got a formal quiz at the bar last winter from a guy at work* who couldn’t believe that a young lady was legitimately obsessed with Minor League baseball. And the questions were minute things that no fan should be “required” to know to prove themselves as an actual fan, like “how fast did so-and-so run the 40?” or whatever.

    *I passed his “quiz,” and we have since become friends. But still! Why does this happen?

  2. Women represent over 40-percent of fans at NHL games. Interesting. I’m sure that number would be higher if you simply looked at women fans of the NHL in Canada alone. I know a LOT of women who dig hockey, from casual fans to diehards who can name guys from their favourite team’s farm club roster.

    Great post, CS. If we don’t keep talking about this inequity, who will? It’s a real reflection of the gender bias we live with on many levels. Still.

  3. I understand the frustration I really do. Maybe it’s just the nature of sports fans, who tend to be competitive themselves, that they feel the need to test us on our sports knowledge. They need to prove that they are a much bigger fan than you. I’m not so sure that this is a gender thing though. I know women that do the same thing to prove they are bigger fans than other women.

    And while we may disagree with the pink, rhineston encrusted, sparkly sports attire I don’t think it’s an intentional move to degrade women. It’s that they are greedy money hungry bastards that would sell their mothers if they think it would make a profit.

    You’re probably right we shouldn’t have to deal with this, but the civil rights movement was a long time ago and people are still racists.

    I guess my point is just that you know you’re a fan, all the people you care about know you’re a fan. Why do we feel the need to prove it to anyone else?

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