This one is for the ladies who also happen to love sports. And I mean sports– not athletes, not food, and not just Superbowl commercials. This one is for the girls who routinely get ignored or interrupted when they try to discuss something they’re passionate about. This one is for the women who deserve a seat at the sports table.
On Thursday morning of last week, the Deflategate decision was handed down. I was overjoyed when the news popped up on my phone- Tom Brady can play! I think I literally cheered. My celebration was short lived when my associate spoke up and said “Stephanie, he’s just a football player.”
I sat there in shock for a minute trying to figure out what he meant. Then I got it, and when I did, I could have let loose a string of curse words similar to those you’d hear from me on game day. He thinks I’m only excited because Tom Brady is hot; he thinks I’m excited about simply seeing him on the field.
Excuse me, what?
I could not care less what Tom Brady looks like. He’s a brilliant football player, and he has helped lead my home team to victory on many occasions. I like Tom Brady for the same reason the men in my life like Tom Brady: because he helps create wins. But this associate’s assumption that I do care about the way he looks has everything to do with the fact that I’m female.
I don’t mean to turn this into a woe is me type of post, because it isn’t. I’m simply seeking to bring awareness to something that bothers me, in the hopes that I might be able to inspire some fan out there to bring upon a small change in their life or the life of someone else. From birth, men and women are taught that we’re different, and it’s taken to such an extreme that we are blinded into thinking that our preferences are determined by our gender. Truthfully, it’s just a social construct. It’s all in how you perceive it, and perceptions can be changed by awareness. This is the sociology major in me talking, so I’ll spare you the paper… 😉
Anyway, here is a small sampling of what sucks about being a female sports fan. Again, I simply want to spread awareness about something that bothers me- and maybe cause someone to think twice if they find that they’re doing this to a female sports fan, or encourage the female fans to speak a little louder about their passion.
- The assumption that a male significant other was the one who “got us into sports.”
- When people assume you like sports for the players and their bodies. Good looks don’t create wins, people.
- Pink jerseys. If this has nothing to do with breast cancer fundraising, I’m not interested. Real team colors or bust.
- The way female fans are super sexualized in the media. Again, this sends the message that we’re only there for the guys.
- When a domestic violence case is brought up, we see the video of the assault and the woman on the ground, and the alleged abuser gets suspended fewer games than someone suspected of “having general knowledge of” deflating footballs.
- Your opinion rarely matters unless a guy in the room agrees with it.
- Being accused of not being real fans because we can’t spew off some random sports trivia that’s demanded of us to “prove” we like the sport. I’m here to watch a game, not take a quiz.
- Watching (and cheering for) women sports reporters, only to cringe when it flips to a male reporter who comments about the way she looks.
- “It’s not ladylike to swear.” BUT DID YOU SEE THAT FUCKING CATCH?!
- Never being invited to play Fantasy.
- When it’s implied you don’t know anything about the game. This is my favorite- because the people who do this to me end up looking like idiots real quick.
- To piggyback on that, having the rules explained to you all game. I know what a first down is, and I’ve known since first grade, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
- When it’s assumed you’d rather keep up with the Kardashians than keep up with your team.
- Getting upset at a game has nothing to do with PMS. Yeah, we just missed our chance at a playoff spot because of a bad call and I’m pissy about it… just like every other fan. Females are generally more comfortable showing emotions, and sports isn’t an exception to this. So what?
This is definitely not an all inclusive list. I’ll repeat myself again, because this is important: this list is not meant to be a woe is me type of thing. Ladies, I want you to know that this is a normal experience for us, and guys- I want you to know this is what we go through, so you can put a stop to how you think of us or treat us.
If you need more of a reason: on our first date, my fiancé and I talked about the NHL lockout and bonded over the Boston Bruins. So, men of the world, consider opening up your mind and heart to a discussion with a female sports fan, and feel free to safely assume she’s on your level. You may not know what you’ll find.