I'm not sure there are any official numbers on this, but as a serious female sports fan, it certainly seems to me that we're a pretty distinct gender minority in the overall world of fandom.
That's not to say women in sports are persecuted or anything. Just to be clear—on the scale of female persecution, you've got Joan of Arc on one side and female sports fans waaaaaaaay on the other.
My only point was that because sports is such a male dominated world, the average female fan experience is a little different from that of the average male. Most issues are comically minor, but there are a few things I know we could all live without.
Frustrations aside, for many of us, sports are a huge and enjoyable part of our lives—irreplaceable even. Although, there are at least 15 things we kinda hate about it.
I know most women don't universally hate the kiss cam—it generally depends on the circumstance. It's far from my favorite part of seeing an NBA or NHL game live, but can be mildly amusing on occasion.
The thing about the kiss cam is that not everyone is starved for attention—some people are downright shy. And not everyone is attending the game with a significant other.
In fact, there may be no other place I'm more likely to be sitting next to someone I don't particularly care for. If someone offers you a ticket to a game, you go. As long as boundaries are clear and everything is on the level, you absolutely go.
Which are just some of the reasons the kiss cam always has potential to be a woman's worst enemy. Even if you really don't want to kiss whoever you're with—or the complete stranger sitting next to you—you kinda have to.
Either that or get booed by everyone in the damn arena. Literally the only thing worse.
On one level, I think most women appreciate that leagues/teams are cognizant of the fact that we represent about half the population and are actively attempting to show us they care. Even if it's just because they want our money.
But there are ways to increase the fan experience for females and then there's desperate pandering. If a woman doesn't fundamentally love—or at least enjoy—the sport, then (pregnant) Bellies & Baseball promotional night isn't gonna win them over.
Maybe they'll show up for kids night next year and pregnant night again the year after, but that's about it. And it's certainly not appealing to a large number of fans, many of whom do not have children.
Sometimes broader strokes are best.
The playoff beard is a time-honored tradition in sports. Athletes do it for their own particular reasons and male fans do it in solidarity—it's a way to be part of something, without actually being part of it.
My boyfriend does it at least twice a year, as do the male counterparts of most of my friends, and I don't think any of us have ever (or would ever) ask for—let alone demand—a moratorium on the playoff-related facial hair.
That being said, it's not always the greatest look. If you don't do the facial hair thing regularly, it can take awhile for the interested parties in your life to adjust. And by the time we do…BOOM…playoffs over, beard gone.
Even worse when the beard is shaved, but an "ironic" mustache remains for long after the irony has faded. Assuming it was ever ironic to begin with.
Having never watched a single episode of any reality show about wives or housewives ever, I'll admit that I'm no expert on the goings on in this unfamiliar world. Although, I've seen enough clips on The Soup over the years to know I've already seen too much.
The stereotype that female sports fans are only in it because they want to get their hooks in a professional athlete is an ugly one, and it stems from women like these. Most of whom aren't even wives—these shows are mostly ex-girlfriends, baby mamas and stalkers.
Most women know that if you're nothing without your man…you're already nothing.
Speaking of that ugly stereotype! Here it is in practice. It's insulting to suggest that women watch sports because they're lusty sex-machine groupies who are somehow sexually fulfilled by watching large men in spandex pants smash into each other all day.
What are we, men? Not that I'm trying to turn this around and insult the boys—but if you think that's all it takes to get a girl going…there probably aren't many looking back fondly of the intimate times you spent together.
And seriously, Tom Riddle, you feel uncomfortable when women know something about an athlete because you think their motives are impure? Well, Mr. i l0v 3 Boobies, isn't that ironic.
This is certainly not fair, but when a woman in sports does her job poorly, it reflects poorly on all women in sports. That's not to say every man holds the mistakes of a single woman against an entire gender—they don't.
But people do have a tendency to generalize. Unless you recognize and actively fight it, lumping people together and making sweeping assessments is the natural inclination of humanity.
Which is why I found female boxing judge C.J. Ross' ruling in the recent Mayweather-Alvarez bout so infuriating. It was more than apparent to anyone who watched the fight that it was an easy decision for Mayweather. Even with my limited boxing background, it was glaringly obvious.
The other two judges scored the fight heavily in favor of Mayweather, while Ross called it a draw. When they announced it wasn't a unanimous decision, the rest of the world was right there with Mayweather and his obvious confusion.
Not only was the incident bad for women, it was also bad for boxing. The sport already has a reputation of being crooked, which isn't helped when it looks like a judge was bought and paid for. Ross has since resigned, but the damage was done.
I suspect it'll be awhile before we see another female judge in such a high-profile fight.
The issue of pink jerseys (and various other pink fan gear) has been discussed, mentioned and mocked too much over the last few years to really get into it. There's just no need.
If you're a sports fan, you should be wearing the team colors. If you're a girl trying to impress your boyfriend and needed something cute to wear to the game, then pink is fine.
But it's one or the other.
You don't have to watch women's sports. You don't even have to like women's sports. I'm a woman and with the exception of the Olympics and the sports I played through college, I don't even like women's sports all that much.
But the fact that you don't watch the WNBA doesn't mean the WNBA is a stupid joke, and it doesn't mean the athletes aren't talented. Not liking women's soccer doesn't mean the only purpose Alex Morgan serves is being the butt of lewd jokes.
It's okay to not like something. It's not okay to beleaguer its entire existence because you don't.
I imagine that some women pretend to be sports fans for all kinds of reasons. Of course, the only one I've routinely witnessed in my own life are those who do it to impress a guy. And how loathsome it is really depends on the situation.
If the girlfriend of a family member or guy friend is taking a genuine interest because she wants to be part of the group, I actually respect that. As long as it's not deceptive and she's not obviously forcing a smile while hating every minute of it.
That's much different than a girl who pretends to be a sports fan, going to pretty impressive length to convince everyone she is. Then as soon as an engagement or a baby happen (in whichever order), suddenly sports are nothing but a waste of time.
It seems to me it'd be easier just to seek out someone with similar interests to begin with. This way a woman doesn't have to pretend to like sports before things get serious and a man doesn't have to watch Sunday football on his iPad while sitting on the toilet after.
[By the way, Kim K.—nice fur sleeve, collar combination...totally appropriate for the venue.]
This is the only thing I'm going to get girly about, I swear. Sports can be messy and dirty and bloody—all fans accept that's just a given. The only thing that I, and damn near every other woman I've ever known, are routinely confounded and grossed out by is all the spitting.
Everyone spits for whatever reasons on a pretty regular basis, but there's nothing regular about the spitting happening in sports. It's just constant.
Judging from what I've seen on the sidelines and benches during games, I'd imagine that 70 percent of liquid taken in by athletes is immediately spit back out. Although, as icky as that is, it's got nothing on the tobacco and sunflower seed situation in MLB. Yuck.
Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting it be banned or addressed in any manner. (Except for tobacco, but that's not entirely spit related) It's gross and most women hate it, but you have to take the good with the bad in life. Not complain until you get your way.
In August a writer for AL.com highlighted a tailgating event in Mobile called "Girls of Fall: A Night of Food, Fashion and Football." You'll notice that football got third billing. (It doesn't in the photo, but it did in his article.)
Author David Holloway really started off on a high note, insisting, "Football can be a confusing and often vexing concept, especially for women."
I do applaud him for holding back and not adding, "I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am. You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science."
The piece was loaded with baseless assumptions and ridiculous generalizations, many of which were removed after a bunch of over-emotional confused women complained about them. It's like they don't even appreciate a big strong man talking to them like children.
Generally, I think it's more surprising to men when someone says something appallingly sexist than it is to women. If you're not the type of guy who makes a habit of dressing down others, you probably don't surround yourself with those types of people.
It doesn't matter who we surround ourselves with because we're always going to hear stuff like that, at least on occasion. People who don't like Skip Bayless can rattle off a checklist of reasons why.
People who don't like female sports broadcasters are less specific, but the fact that they're female is generally the crux of the argument. "She only has a job because she's attractive." "She's disgusting and we shouldn't have to look at her."
Recently Condoleezza Rice was named to the NCAA playoff selection committee, but she wouldn't have been if ESPNs David Pollack or unemployed coach Pat Dye had anything to do with it. Both of whom suggested Rice, a former Secretary of State, wasn't qualified—the latter insisted "to understand football, you've to to play with your hand in the dirt."
Dye's insult to her intelligence probably would've meant more to Rice if it hadn't come from a man who hasn't coached in nearly 25 years and hasn't played in over 50.
Nobody likes being denigrated and it's something unfortunate that has probably happened to just about everyone at one point or another. What's more unfortunate is that it happens to all female sports fans on Twitter every single day and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Obviously it's an issue that extends far beyond social media, but Twitter has given people an outlet for all of the disgusting things they think, without ever having to say them out loud and see the look on someone's face after saying it.
As a woman, you can't say anything about it because the poster—and sometimes a dozen or more of his friends—will just double down. Then, not only are you a useless sub-human, good for nothing that happens outside the kitchen or bedroom, you also can't take a joke.
Of course, maybe we'll laugh when you say something funny. In the meantime, we'll do our best to keep ignoring it.
A lack of interesting female characters isn't a problem unique to sports movies, but it may very well be the sub-genres with the least women in roles of any consequence.
Of course, sports are male dominated, so perhaps it's to be expected. But there has to be something outside these usual suspects:
- The mom
- The maniacal villain and/or gold digger
- The wholesome, put upon wife or girlfriend
- The sexpot who may or may not be a home-wrecker
There are exceptions to every rule, but not very many.
When the NFL announced their new bag policy over the summer, there were some who called it sexist. Personally, I'm not sure if it's sexist, but I know it only impacts one sex. The female one.
You've got men getting drunk and beating the hell out of each other. You've got the NFL blatantly lying and denying the risk of traumatic brain injures, while players keep dying. But my purse is the real threat.
The NFL banned any purses larger than the size of a large wallet at stadiums, allowing women the option of carrying their things in large clear plastic baggies. Oh! And they just happen to be selling them for $10+ a pop.
How very convenient. Roger Goodell took care of a major safety threat and managed to make a tidy profit at the same time. Something tells me only have of that last statement is accurate.
**Something also tells me I may regret this, but you can follow me on Twitter. But if you're irrationally angry about this whole list, maybe you shouldn't: Follow @blamberr