As a female sports fan I would like to believe that in 2011 sports teams, leagues and companies recognize they have a very large female following and they would do their best to market not only to men, but to the knowledgeable female base as well. Within the past few months I have been led to believe the opposite.
As baseball fans we all know about the “Fan Cave” and that on Opening Day they had a Victoria Secret model answering fans baseball questions. Yes, this was to cross promote with the VS Pink/MLB line of clothing. However, this and the idea of the Fan Cave…or Man Cave if you will, caused an uproar amongst female baseball fans almost everywhere. Caryn over at Metsgrrl.com wrote a great piece before the season started about the Fan Cave as did many other female bloggers.
Last month I received an email from Steiner Sports, more specifically from the owner of Steiner Sports, Brandon Steiner. The email was promoting meeting the Manning brothers, Eli and Peyton for charity. Mr. Steiner was having a fundraiser for a girls home. Part of the email read:
Imagine giving this gift to your son, your nephew, your grandson, or just someone you care about….
As a football fan I thought, why does this have to be a gift for only males? In my disgust I wrote the following correspondence to Mr. Steiner:
As a female sports fan I am disheartened by the email I just received. Why does this gift have to only be focused on being for a son, nephew or grandson? I am a football fan, more specifically I am a Giants fan. While I cannot afford to donate to your fundraiser, I am disgusted that it seems you think only males will appreciate this opportunity. I am a Yankees season ticket holder, the account is in my name…not a male’s. I have
purchased from Steiner for ME, not only for my dad or my brother or a male friend.
Your fundraiser is for a GIRLS home…yet you only think only males would enjoy meeting Peyton or Eli? I would appreciate if you somehow acknowledged that your email below was extremely short sighted.
Shortly after I sent the email I received an email from an employee of Steiner Sports with an apology from Mr. Steiner and an invitation to the signing, which unfortunately I cannot attend.
Most recently, as I was checking my email this morning, I read my daily media industry e-newsletter from Cynopsis.com. Under “Sponsorship & Promotion” header was:
SportsNet New York is undergoing a rebrand, and launching a new series of ads under the banner “More Sports. More Testosterone.” The concept was conceived by Ogilvy & Mather New York to promote the networks extensive coverage of the total New York sports scene and features a series of ads that depict the positive impact watching sports has on a man’s testosterone levels. One ad focuses on how it has a positive impact on a man’s libido while another hones in on muscle development. The channel’s previous campaign touted “NY NY Sports Sports.”
I read this a few times to make sure I was reading it correctly and then thought, and tweeted, “Are you kidding me?!” after the new tagline. As a Yankees fan I admit, I rarely watch SNY, but in the times that I have, I have only once seen a woman on camera representing the network and that’s for their show “Beer Money”. So of course SNY would think that only guys watch sports right? Notice to SNY: You are wrong!
I know that it is thanks to my father and grandfathers, not my mom or my grandmothers, that I am the sports fan I am today. Also thanks to my dad and grandfathers I know how to read a fly ball, know that the 1927 Yankees is the best team in the history of baseball, know what icing the puck means and I don’t ask “what inning is it?” at a hockey game… side-note: a girl actually asked me that at my brother’s high school ice game and it is still a joke between my dad and I 20 years later.
However, if the day ever comes that I have a daughter, I will be the one to teach her the things I know about sports.
There are teams and leagues that have embraced their female fans as a knowledgeable base and not just pink wearing, I’m going to the game with my boyfriend/husband/guy or sports groupies. It’s time for all sports entities to acknowledge that there is a large fan base of women that will only wear their team colors, that don’t want rhinestones and hearts on their sports clothing and most importantly….know more about what is going on on the playing surface than many men.
Thanks! Just a little something I needed to get off my chest.
This is excellent and extremely true. Lemme go and link my Aerys colleagues – we’re all on your side on this one, I guarantee it!
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I can not begin to imagine how these things make a woman feel. Please accept this apology from one man!
Very well said.
Well written. Every time these incidents happen, it makes me a little sadder when it comes to this notino that women somehow don’t or can’t enjoy sports as men do or that we need it “pinked” up to get it. One day and I hope soon, companies will stop the belittling and will start to get that women not only enjoy, but understand sports played by the boys.
I learned about baseball and got my love of the Yankees thanks to my MOTHER. My dad never liked or followed sports.
Love this. I get my love of baseball from my MOM. My father and stepfather couldn’t care less about baseball. They always target the fathers/sons, but we’re one of many mother/daughter duos attending any particular game.
And I know your mom is an awesome baseball fan!
Very well said! I have been fighting this pretty much my whole life. I have been a sports fan way before the days of “pink hats” and find it really sad, that so many can’t imagine females being serious sports fans.
Honestly, the vast majority of the fan base for popular sports is male. That would probably explain why most of the marketing/advertising is geared towards me. You’re a fan of sports leagues that are 100% played by men. You can’t really be mad that that’s who they cater to. I’m sure the WNBA, softball leagues, etc would be more “female-friendly” in who they target. I understand your point, but sports is a business. You have to expect them to put most of their attention where it would have the greatest affect. In this case that would be with men.
Really? WNBA and Softball leagues? How closed minded are you? Have you not looked at the comments here? Are you on twitter, there are too many women to mention that are hockey, baseball, basketball, football addicts? Do you know how much money women pour into sports leagues that are 100% played by men? Yes, the majority of the fan base is men, but not by much:
WOMEN MAKE UP:
47.2 % of major league soccer fans
46.5% of MLB fans
43.2% of NFL fans
40.8% of fans at NHL games
37% of NBA fans
Women purchase 46% of official NFL merchandise
Women spent 80% of all sport apparel dollars and controlled 60% of all money spent on men’s clothing
Women comprise about one-third (34%) of the adult audience for ESPN sport event programs
Get your facts straight before you comment again ok?
Could I get a source for these percentages you quote?* Even if your numbers for fans are correct (which I have serious doubts about) the problem still remains that none of them are at or over 50%, which would mean men are the majority fan base, as you note in your response. The statistics of women buying sports/men’s apparel is out of context since it doesn’t take into consideration women buying those items for the men in their lives. Nothing in your post contradicts any of my points. You haven’t shown that any of my “facts aren’t straight”. Again, sports is a business. They have huge marketing teams that decide how to appropriate funds for advertising. I think it’s safe to assume that if it were profitable to market to women more they would do so. Bottom line. *(I honestly would doubt the validity of any statistics on something like this because it’s nearly impossible to accurately measure for reasons that I don’t really feel like getting into, but will if so prompted.)
I have my Masters Degree in Sports Business from New York University. I have worked in the sports industry for the better part to 13 years, I know sports is a business. Last year I attended over 50 Major League Baseball games. MANY of the with other females who are just as passionate about sports as I am. Here’s where I got the information: http://tinyurl.com/4xcc3rw and she got her information here: http://she-conomy.com/report/facts-on-women/. Google is a wonderful resource. Also, as someone who has worked in the sports industry I know that unfortunately it is still seen as a “good ole boys club” to an extent and many still see sports as something only men like. Who cares if it’s not over 50%? I’m sorry that you don’t see 47% percent as a high enough number, actually it is a very high number when it comes to advertising dollars and how they are spent.
Those stats come from a website called “she-conomy”, which states no origin for the data. Sorry if I’m a bit skeptical. I don’t doubt your sports education/background, nor do I question your zeal for the game. The question here is this: if it would be so much more profitable to market to women then why don’t they? (Like you state, 47% of a consumer base is a significant portion to ignore.) Surely they wouldn’t pass on millions, possibly billions of dollars in extra revenue simply to maintain sports as a “boy’s club”.
You must not get to many games. In every major sport I atttend, the women are some of the most vocal and “into it” fans out there and the ones I know personally are as knowledgeable as the men. The WNBA and softball comment was particularly unnecessary and downright sexist.
Women are “some of” the most “into it” fans at some games you go to? Umm…ok. Not really sure how that pertains to anything I said. The WNBA and softball are sports leagues in which all of the players and majority of the fan base are female, thus it would make sense for them to target women in their marketing tactics. What’s sexist about that?
Considering her post has nothing to do with womens-centric sports, you felt the need to cite sports that are geared towards women. It’s irrelevant to what she’s complaining about. Well, duh, the WNBA is going to be marketed towards women. I don’t know any women that give a crap about the WNBA, but plenty that care a lot about the NBA.
The fact that women are “into it” proves that there is a market for them that is wholly under-appreciated or ignored in certain respects, and they’re treated as second class in marketing with the pink BS and stuff like that. Your view that males are the majority of fans is a fact, but women are consistently derided in every aspect of pro sports. From locker room issues like those with Inez Sainz to this very discussion. There’s a double standard in every aspect and you’d have to be blind not to recognize it.
Bringing up “women-centric” sports is relevant because it brings to light sports that cater to women (her primary concern in the first place). I never said there wasn’t a market for women. I simply question the importance of that market to the sports franchises in comparison to the male consumer base. Claiming that women not being able to freely walk around locker rooms full of naked men is a “double standard” is like saying we should fight for unisex public bathrooms.
Do yourself a favor and read the last two comments from Peter and Wayne on this topic. Maybe your closed mind will open even a millimeter.
Preach it, sister! Every time I see woman wearing a team’s hat or jersey in that nauseating pink, I want to shake her til the vapid falls out, all the while screaming “IF YOU CAN’T WEAR THE TEAM’S COLORS, DON’T WEAR THEIR LOGO, YOU IMBECILE.”
But perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. *sigh*
Wow, so glad I read this. I also dislike the fact that apparently only men can be real sports fans. I started watching sports with my dad when I was quite young. Know most of the rules as well as if not better than most male fans I know. Yet there are so many ways that sports denigrates female fans You have named a few. The one that always gets me is the “come to the meet the coach so you female fans can learn the rules” of what ever sport it might be. Sigh.
And Jay? Either you are one of the most sexist men I’ve seen or you’re one of the most intimidated by a woman who might know as much or more than you about sports.
Thank you Kellie!
Again, I’m not intimidated by it (I don’t think. Maybe on some subconscious level I am. I’m not sure what the psychological implications of that may be, but I’d be interested to see why if I am. I digress.) It’s just not personally attractive to me in a woman. Either way that’s of no consequence to this discussion.
I don’t think I’m either. Certainly not intimidated by women who are sports fanatics, although I must admit I find it a little….off-putting. But that’s neither here nor there.
Off-putting? Seriously? You must be intimidated by women who know more about sports than you. You’re probably stuck in the 1950’s with your thought on women’s roles too.
So Jay you think cause I’m a woman I have a leagu geared towards me, the WNBA? I’ve never watched one WNBA game and don’t care too. I love my baseball and football. I know plenty about the big club and the minor leagues. Get your head out of sand enter the 21st century. Go to a baseball game now and than and see how many women are there, not just with their man but with friends and see how knowledgeable they are!
Most PEOPLE aren’t interested in the WNBA; it’s not a popular sport. However, it IS geared towards women and the fans that it has (never mind how minimal) are indeed mostly women. Although I don’t think going to a game and doing a scan of the crowd for women quite reaches the level of empirical research, I see your point. I’m really not as sexist as I seem, but I am practical.
WNBA is geared towards families. Summertime, weekend, day games.
Regardless, I find it hard to believe that the majority of WNBA fans are male. Would you disagree? If not then you must admit that the majority are women, which was my point.
What a joy to find such clear tihkning. Thanks for posting!
Jay — I don’t know you, so I don’t believe it’s my place to call you “sexist.” But I would say it’s pretty misguided to overlook the fact that women control the vast majority of household purchasing decisions in U.S. homes. I don’t know how that shakes out in other nations but I *think* it’s similar in Canada, as one example. Leading retailers from Target and Starbucks to shopping mall developers such as Simon Property Group focus like LASERS on reaching female consumers as effectively as possible. So it stands to reason that broadcast enterprises and sports franchises that care deeply about viewer ratings and ticket/merchandise sales should tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.
But the big problem (at least with many sports team marketing) is that female fans tend to be overlooked. Others might say women are a missed opportunity entirely. If you’re running an MLB or NBA franchise that’s struggling to plant fans’ butts in the seats and sell them licensed apparel…not to mention inspiring their children and spouses to follow the team…wouldn’t you choose to appeal to women? If so, alienating 50 percent of the population isn’t a great place to begin.
If you’re interested, I have a fairly exhaustive consumer report on file that I can send you. It’s really pretty interesting.
While women may account for most household purchasing decisions, I would need to know what percentage of this includes sports related purchases to address your point. Even if they make up the majority of those purchases it doesn’t matter if they make them on behalf of males. For example, toy and cereal commercials aren’t geared towards adults even though they are the ones making the purchases. They target children since that’s the demographic actually driving the decision to buy the product. If your report offers more insight please post a link. I do agree that ignoring half of a group of consumers is detrimental to any business, which resurrects the focal point of my initial argument. Why would sports franchises ignore women in their marketing if it’s in their best interests not to?
Jay, would stats from Bud Selig’s reports to owners be enough about recognizing how many female fans there are?
Furthermore, by your logic I suppose any article quoting demographic information that is male-favorite should be discounted if the data was collected or hosted by men should be questioned.
I’m a little confused as to what your perspective is on this issue. The article that you linked states, “Forty-three percent of women could not name a player on their home team’s current roster…”. It also says, “Although women easily identify baseball as one of their favorites….they have a much more difficult time translating this belief into the behavior of an active fan…”. I’m not quite sure what your purpose is for using this article if you intend to counter my view that men are more important to sports advertisement.
You misunderstand my logic. It’s not that the information must be invalid because it’s reported by a woman. My point is that a website called “she-conomics” might not be the best place for unbiased data regarding gender studies. Similarly, I wouldn’t trust “DeathToAmerica.com” for a fair and balanced view on international politics. Even more importantly, there is no source for the information.
The fact that you state that you find the existence of female sports fans “off-putting” makes your avid participation in this thread questionable.
It’s 2011. I could understand, say, you saying that you found it “off-putting” that a female physician performed your prostate examination, but the mere existence of avid female sports fans? How can that possibly be off-putting? How can that even be a novelty?
I think that comment is being misunderstood; maybe I wasn’t clear. I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with women who are sports fans. Their existence doesn’t bother me at all. I honestly don’t care one way or the other. I only meant that I didn’t find girls really into sports attractive. I would never date one, for instance. It’s not important and it has no bearing on this conversation. It was just an off hand comment, but I wouldn’t want it to be taken out of context.
I gave you a link for data supporting the number of female sports fans as you were questioning it previously. That was about it.
I’ve asked this on other sites as well, but right now the easiest way to get a job with a MLB organization is through statistical analysis. Teams are hiring the best writers online all the time. Who are the women sabermetricians? The only one I’ve ever heard mentioned is Christina Karhl, but she’s only considered one due to her association with Baseball Prospectus. She doesn’t provide statistical analysis.
So my question is this: why aren’t there more females interested in sabermetrics? The sabermetric community doesn’t care if you’re male or female. If you have a strong argument and back it up with facts they’ll listen. It’s probably the least sexist community with regards to baseball on the internet. What is it about baseball and stats that least many, many more men to do statistical analysis than women?
I don’t know the answer to this, but it’s something that has always interested me. Every sabermetrician was a huge fan who started tinkering around with stats, began to develop their own and so on. Women not being sabermetricians obviously doesn’t mean they aren’t huge fans, but why is that area almost exclusively male? The typical arguments of sexism would be inaccurate.
Sabermetrics is how outsiders have made a huge mark on baseball over the last 30 years and it’s been all male. It’s an avenue that has only helped increase the male percentage of employees though it’s an avenue open to both sexes.
The reason that the emails and ads are not geared to the women is because you are not the advertising agencies’ target audience, in this case. The ads are geared to the 18-45 year old male demographic, which working in the industry previously, I know is the toughest demographic to get a hold of. They are not intentionally being sexist or demeaning. They just have a product to sell to that specific demographic.
What should happen is someone; MLB, NFL, some advertising agency, ANYONE, should sponsor a study on just how much the sports demographics are broken out by age and gender these days. I do not know if anyone has done this since 1954 (pulling a year out of my ass). Because, I have 2 brothers and a sister. In my family, only my mother, my sister, and myself (male, if you didn’t know) are sports fans. Both of my brothers have 2 kids and my sister is expecting her second. Her first child, not 2 yet, and I, are the only male sports fans in the family.
It’s possible to target a demographic without alienating other demographics, speaking as someone who has also worked in the business. For example, we have a running joke in our house that when my boyfriend laughs hard at a commercial, the comment is “Well, they’ve successfully targeted 18-35 white male.” Somehow, most of those ads manage to not offend me, and the ones that are well-written and clever also make a favorable impression upon me, which benefits the advertiser far more than an ad that alienates a potential customer.
Stefanie – Wonderful blog posting.
My son was brought to two major league MLB games by me, his mom. (Qualifier: My son is only 4 years old.)
My dad was brought to hundreds of major league MLB and NHL games as a kid, by his mom. This cemented his absolute love of sports.
Both my dad’s dad and my son’s dad couldn’t care less.
I will be the one to sign my son up for t-ball, little league and any other sports he wants. I will be the one to buy him sports apparel and memorabilia as he desires. I will be the one to teach him to pitch lefty (god willing). I bought my son his first MLB jersey at 6 months old. And every year after.
Ignoring female fans is just plain stupid. I understand wanting to focus on your “target” market, but times have changed. No longer is a single girl at a sports event a reason to point and say “What the hell is she doing here?” Now it should be “Wow, she’s a real fan.”
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This is a fine and eloquent objection to the continuing stupidity. I’m a man and a Mets fan and most of my best baseball memories involve enjoying the Mets with my mother and my sisters. I am also horrified by this clueless move on the part of the Mets and SNY and I wrote a blog piece about it as well at http://www.danabrand.com/blog
I enjoyed your post a lot. As a sports fan, and a proud woman I completely agree with basically everything you are saying. However, why does wearing reinstones and being an avid sports fan have to be mutually exclusive? I happen to be a baton twirler, a HUGE Cubs fan, a lover of the Packers, and a political science major. I was saddened by your comment that you (and many) are girls ‘that don’t want rhinestones and hearts on their sports clothing’ I honestly don’t see how that makes girls who do enjoy things like that less avid sports fans, or less important to the female fan base. Maybe I’m reading too much into that comment, and if I am I apologize. I am just extremely passionate about sports, all kinds of sports (including baton :D), and don’t have any problem adding a little bling to my fan wear, and don’t want to be put down by a fellow sports feminist for it.
I wasn’t saying that girls who wear rhinestones and hearts on their sport clothing any less of a fan. It just seems to be that there is more of that apparel than what most of my friends and I want to wear. By NO means would I ever say what a woman wears to a game makes her less of a fan. If she knows the sport and doesn’t pretend to, she gets an A+ in my book!.
Great post Steph. Keep up the good work.
Really enjoyed your post. One of the things that continues to amaze me in the sports industry is the willingness of teams, brands, and leagues to cede the ground of female consumers to other forms of entertainment (i.e. movies, shopping, etc.). Males are often already spoken for when it comes to team and sport loyalty, but females present an audience that for the large part is untapped. And almost every marketing study shows that females are not only the decision makers in most household purchases, but they are fiercely loyal. Leagues, teams and brands would be wise to target young females to build a loyal following that could last a lifetime.
This is a great post, and I completely agree. I’ve also noticed a push to market sports even more specifically toward men as of late, even as I’ve found more and more great women on Twitter that are incredibly knowledgeable about sports. I’m not the manliest man in the world. All of the stereotypical man cave, testosterone-fueled marketing BS really doesn’t apply to me. But I like baseball. I’m sure you know a heck of a lot more about baseball in general than I do, Stefanie. I follow the Tigers, though… and an interesting thing is that many new additions to my list on Twitter of those that watch and comment on every Tigers game have been women… women that really know what they’re talking about, as well or probably better than many guys. Women with MLB TV subscriptions that really hold their own, I guess you could say. Meanwhile, I listen to Tigers games on the sports station WXYT in Detroit, which sometimes use the tagline “talking from man to man” (although there is a woman on their morning show that even does promos for the station), and I’ve watched Tigers games on Fox Sports Detroit, which has begun a new “feature” this season of having exaggerated, overdone, and almost robotic women do promos during the games; these women are wannabe models, I suppose, and even say ridiculous things like, “Here’s a fact about me. I once broke up with a man for not knowing enough about the Red Wings” while wearing something skimpy and having spent about 3 hours in hair and makeup. C’MON. This blatent pandering to the guys they think are watching would be hilarious if it weren’t so insulting. Anyway, looks like your post really connected with me 🙂
I’ve walked by the MLB Fan Cave a few times and have refused to go in and take their tour, out of protest over the disgraceful use of the space that once held the best record store in NYC. But the thought that struck me, when seeing what those guys are doing, is this really seems kind of a sad and pathetic way to spend half a year.
I love baseball. I’ve seen games in 14 ML parks, been to more Met games than I can count. And I can’t imagine having to sit there and watch every game. The setup reminds me of the scene from A Clockwork Orange where Malcolm McDowell’s Alex has his love of Beethoven destroyed.
So perhaps the answer to why it’s two guys in the Fan Cave is, female baseball fans were smart enough not to apply.
I thought about applying for the fan cave then I remembered how much I love going to games. I’ve been to 11 already and will be going to 2 more this weekend, not to mention how many more I’ll see the rest of the season!
I found your blog through the link on your Twitter profile after reading about your famous photo and it seems we have a few things in common. Let’s stay in touch! @aussiegoldy
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i agree! i think it’s sad that women are “knocked out of the arena” when it comes to sports altogether – excuse the pun, if you will 🙂
i also think it’s sad that as far as mass broadcasting of sports go, we are subjected to watching only men play sports. i don’t understand why society deems women athletes “less than”? to illustrate my point, I live in Philadelphia and on the major highway out of the city there was a billboard for Temple (a Division 1 college) basketball. On one side it had their star player with his arm’s stretched out, holding two basketballs in a very “cool” and “powerful” pose and it said: Alan’s Town (a play on words because Allentown is a nearby suburb). And it had the upcoming Temple men’s basketball schedule. On the opposite side it was an action shot of an unnamed girl playing basketball and it said: Temple Women’s Basketball – Affordable Family Fun
sad, pathetic. and sexist.
furthermore (dragging out my soapbox and standing on it), why are major sports separated by gender? tackle football – yes, i could see that. but tennis? baseball? golf? etc? but i recently read a story about a 12-year-old girl who was one of the best little league pitchers in the COUNTRY. if she was a boy, her sights would be set on the majors – what does she have to look forward to as a girl? relearning how to pitch for a women’s softball team and playing college ball? lame.
I have never understood why people get upset when they feel that they aren’t being targeted well enough by marketing.
There are quite a few things that I like that I could get upset about not being targeted well enough. I like ‘Chick Flicks’ but I’m not a chick. I like European sports but I am not a europhile. I like hip hop but I am not urban. I like firearms but I am not a redneck.
Is it possible to enjoy those things that aren’t marketed at us without feeling like we are being excluded?
Is it possible to feel wronged without feeling disgusted?
Is it possible to separate the fandom from the marketing?
I understand the chip on the shoulder, but perhaps you could try to enjoy the competition for what it is rather than demand satisfaction from those who market it.
What is it about being marketed at that makes you feel so fulfilled?
There are some interesting comments in this discussion. Advertisers should consider using the term “sports fan” and similar terms, instead of “man”.
Awesome, awesome post. In the same vein, its interesting to notice the ads that Google puts on your site – along with the obvious links to baseball tickets and sports training, we get links for sites on “What Attracts Men” and how to “Make Him Addicted To You.”
How does a computer generated list end up with a bias that a blog about sports written by a woman must be related to trying to get a man? Uncool. Societal fail.
Thanks for reading. Very interesting. I don’t tend to look at my site except for the back end of things when writing a post.
i’m one of those gals who has absolutely no clue about sports. the time i have worn a team jersey has been when a sportsfan boyfriend gifted me one… Emm… actually, three! niway, i must say i am always very impressed by gals who totally know their sports. its fantastic. here in kenya, alot of the women i have seen represented as “sports fans” seem to be much more the ones with no real clue about the game but happy to wear the “pink and rhinestone” tees… but that’s what i think. so, i’m hoping there’s some who are like you – truly and completely sports fans who know their stuff. very good stuff. will keep linking into your blog. just may learn something! ;- )*
Amen to that sister!