By Stacey Gillard
I like sports. It’s as simple as that. My summer evenings are incomplete if I’m not watching home runs fly over the fences at the Rogers Centre (or not, as the case may be – sorry Blue Jays). My Sundays during the winter consist of me flipping from football game to football game from 10am to 8pm. Spring evenings see me dashing home from the office to catch the puck drop in playoff season. And I’m a girl.
A couple of weekends ago I was channel surfing between two sports networks, one showing tennis, one showing football. On several occasions on both stations I saw advertisements for the Blu-Ray release of season 8 of Supernatural. This was the only time I’d seen ads for it on any Canadian network and it occurred to me that either the sports channels think that the majority of Supernatural fans are men (in which case their research department needs revamping) or they have finally clued in to the fact that women actually watch sports.
This prompted me to conduct a quick and informal poll of women I know. In response to the very vague question “do you like sports”, 7 out of the 23 women I asked said no. And of those, several of them said that they will still enjoy major events such as the Superbowl or Olympics. A couple also mentioned that attending live events appeals to them even though watching on television doesn’t. When I’m passionately tweeting or updating my Facebook status while watching the NFL, most of the responders to my cries of “FUMBLE” and “BOOM!” are my female friends. Hockey nights at friends’ houses are attended primarily by women. And contrary to popular belief, (most) women are not sports fans because of the men! While the attractiveness of some athletes is an obvious pull (looking at you, David Beckham) it’s definitely not always the case (looking at you, 75% of hockey players). While women are less inclined to know Jack Morris’ ERA in the 1981 Major League season or who had the most rushing yards in the NFL in 1952, we do understand the significance of both of those stats and I’ve surprised men (not ones who know me well) with my knowledge of current players. So what is it that makes people I don’t know pick up the Blue Jays hat I proudly display on my desk and exclaim “you like SPORTS?!”?
Why is it that most sports networks only show commercials for beer and trucks? That brings up a whole other question; what is it about beer and trucks that I associate only with men? I like both. Lots of my female friends do, too. Maybe it’s how obvious the commercials are in targeting males. Maybe it’s a lack of commercials for products tailored for my gender that makes the dichotomy so apparent. Just because I like sports doesn’t mean I can’t be a girly girl. I still wear mascara, I still need the best product to make my hair silky smooth. We’re a large demographic and I find it strange that most networks are not catching up to this. This isn’t a new concept. My sister and I watched sports with our dad on the weekend from the time we were really small.
Regardless of the (albeit dwindling) male perception, female sports fans are numerous and we aren’t going anywhere. I’m still going to irritate my neighbors every Sunday by yelling “BALL’S OUT” (in reference to a fumble in football…just to clarify), I’ll still have my superstitions every hockey season (Did they win when I wore my jersey? Then I must wear it every game until the playoffs!), and I’ll definitely still be annoyed when someone expresses their shock at the knowledge I have of the teams I love the most. In the mean-time, with my perfectly made-up eyelashes and my super shiny hair, beer in hand, I’ll just say GO JAYS! GO ‘HAWKS! GO CANUCKS GO!