Women Sports Fans Are Not Mystical Unicorns!

A man and a woman in football jerseys face off in a field

My husband Zak and I took engagement photos in our favorite teams’ jerseys.

August 22, 2013

I find being a sports fan alternately fulfilling, frustrating, and, well … let’s say challenging. Why challenging, you ask? Any sports fan can understand the sense of fulfillment after a big win and the sense of frustration after a devastating loss or, worse, an injury to a key player. But the challenge — that lies in being a sports fan who also happens to be female. Yep … I’m a woman sports fan.

I like basketball, baseball, and hockey, but my truest love is football. And for some reason, upon learning this, the first reaction of most male fans is either a game of 20 Questions designed to truly test my football knowledge or an immediate proposal of marriage, as if I am a mystical unicorn they must lock down lest they never see one again. When I see similar stories by other female fans like Jessica (yeah, yeah … we know you guys think it’s just “soooo cute” that we think we’re sports fans), I’m both encouraged and disheartened to know I’m not alone in this.

So, my misinformed friends, instead of going through a litany of my sports knowledge (um, yes, I understand how downs, touchbacks, and clipping work), I’ll tell you some things you really need to understand.

Women don’t go to games to pass trivia tests or be criticized for their attire. Yes, some women go to the game in a cute dress and heels instead of a jersey. And I, and probably they, hear the snide comments about it (and no, wearing heels to a hockey game does not make a woman a “puckslut”). But I hear nothing about the men who attend the same game in a nice business suit. And let’s be honest for a minute: what’s the difference there? Hmm?

Women don’t go to games just hoping hundreds of men will shout at us to flash our breasts. And we certainly aren’t crossing our fingers that when we refuse to flash you, you’ll spit on us or throw beer bottles. Yep, I’m talking to you, Jets fans.

Zak and me in a Packers-Bears game stadium

Zak and me attending a Packers-Bears game

And no, women don’t become sports reporters just dreaming of being harassed and picked apart for every little thing. So please, for the love of the all that is wonderful and magnificent about sports, stop hating on women sports reporters for absolutely no good reason. Yes, Erin Andrews is beautiful. But guess what? She is also smart, understands sports, and is a darn good reporter. A reporter who isn’t just dying for strangers to shout out proposals or creepily stalk her in her hotel room.

And next time you think about harassing a female sports reporter or fan because she’s “too hot,” “too ugly,” or just not “fan-y” enough for you, ask yourself this question: If she were a man, would I make the same comment? If the answer is no, zip it. And if the answer is yes, zip it anyway. Because in the words of my oh-so-wise 7-year-old niece, “Who died and put you in charge anyway?”

We aren’t asking for much. We just want the same respect given to the male fan sitting next to us. We just want to be free to wear our favorite jersey or come straight from work in a dress and heels. And we really, really, reeeaaally just want to attend the game without having to worry about whether the bleacher seats and a Friday night game are safe for us. Sports have become friendlier to women over the years, but in so many ways, we’re still struggling for acceptance.

This post was written by AAUW Media Relations Intern Kristi Grim.

By:   |   August 22, 2013

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