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Sports must support female fans in non-patronizing ways

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Since the dawn of time, or just the dawn of athletics, women have been patronized for having any association with sports.

Unequal pay for female athletes and gender exclusivity in sports have been a continuous issue. Among these issues lies one that hasn’t been so addressed; the treatment and perception of female fans.

In recent decades, leagues such as the NFL and MLB have made attempts to involve women in sports. These attempts included “feminine” colors and bedazzled merchandise. The exclusivity went so far as to not even offer the same player jerseys that are available in men sizes.

Just a few years ago, the NFL started a “Fit for You” campaign that offered female fans more merchandise options than previously stated. What happened next was an increase in sales.

Advertisers have opened their arms to women in sports. Sponsors such as Nike have made large strides towards having female athletes in advertisements but what about those who are just a fan of the sport?

During the prime of sports seasons, advertisements for beer, chips, cellular networks and even satellite providers involve sports to have sport fanbases buy into their product. The issue with these commercials is that they are largely composed by male actors for male fans.

Is it that woman don’t go through the struggles of missing out on a game because they already own NFL Sunday Ticket or that women just don’t like Tostitos tortilla chips?

I can’t speak for all women, but I personally do not have NFL Sunday Ticket and miss out on a lot of games because of my location and I enjoy good tortilla chips with a nice dip. So where is my ad?

Along with the lack of portrayals of female fans in brand advertisements, there is a hint of entitlement from some male fans.

Part of what makes sports so enticing is the unity it creates with fans. Fanbases can celebrate wins and mourn failures together but the sad reality is that although times have changed, the authenticity of a female being a fan is often questioned.

I’ve watched football for much of my life because I was fortunate to have a brother who showed me the ways of the emotional roller coaster teams put you through.

For some reason, whenever I share my appreciation of sports, my knowledge is immediately questioned. Questions like, “Oh who’s your quarterback?” to “What does LB stand for?”

It  continues to happen and it’s extremely insulting.

I’ve watch fellow female fans get increasingly frustrated by the ridiculous questioning.  What gives people the right to question another’s knowledge because of their gender?

I’ve met men that have said that they don’t really watch sports but they support a team because of association. But because they are a man, their knowledge wouldn’t be questioned.

It’s understandable that sports has a larger male demographic because of earlier, conservative times that boxed woman’s lifestyle in a certain way, but that idealism is far outdated.

While some sports have some complex rules, it doesn’t take much mental capacity to understand and enjoy.

A comparison can be made to the old ideal that only women knew how to cook, but there are renowned male chefs. If a male can hold a spatula, than a female can turn on the television and watch sports.

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Sports must support female fans in non-patronizing ways