You play ball like a girl: A peek at the female football fan

Christine Colleran

November. Cider mills, doughnuts, crispy red leaves, sharp, cool air and football. Lots and lots of football. The sport and this season simply go hand in hand. However, in discussing football, I think it important to note the great gender divide that football, more than other sports, seems to bring forth.

There aren’t many gender lines that women can’t cross or blur these days. We can vote, after all. We can fish, wear pants in public, shoot a gun and become chief executive officers. Yet for all of the radical stuff us females can do, there exists one area that seems destined to remain separated by sex. Sport. More specifically, football.

If we look only at the numbers, football is a man’s sport. The number of female football players in the NFL? Zero. How about the number of female coaches? None. To be fair, there was that one female referee…but she was a replacement ref, and it’s best for everyone if we don’t talk about them.

Some of those differences can be explained by valid gender discrepancies. There just aren’t many women that are strong enough or fast enough to play in the NFL, and for every female that could there probably exist thousands (or more) men in the same physical state. My real problem lies in the fact that women are often not considered true “fans” of the sport.

We female fans may get pats on the head for watching the game, but most guys think the real reason women tune in is to appease the male sex or appreciate those tight uniform pants. While I certainly cannot complain about the NFL’s choice of attire, I, like many other women, tune in every Sunday because I simply want to watch the game.

I was born and bred as a Washington Redskins fan. I can name almost all of their usual starters, and I watch their games (with bated breath) every weekend. When the Redskins blow it in the fourth quarter, I am genuinely upset, and sometimes, in a really close game, I can’t be happy for the rest of the day. Because I feel like a traitor if I don’t, I usually tune into the Detroit Lions games, as well. Stemming from the nature of the teams that I watch (I mean the Lions fans used to wear bags over their heads for goodness-sake), I am often disappointed come Sunday evening, but I keep watching. Every week, hoping for a different outcome, because that’s what a good fan does.

All that I ask is that the fan-status of women be more accepted in society. Just because I wear Victoria’s Secret under my clothes instead of Jockey boxer briefs does not mean that I am any less of a football fan. There exist no ulterior motives here, most of us women who sit down and watch the whole game are no more and no less than your average football fans.

Go Redskins!
[email protected]