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Girls Like Watching Sports Too

The 2019 NFL season came to a close when the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV on February 2. With football season over, I’ve completely shifted from cheering on the Patriots to rooting for the Celtics. I’ll admit that football is my favorite sport to watch, but basketball is a close second. In my opinion, there are too many basketball games in one season, which is why I like to dedicate myself to football in the fall then basketball until the Celtics are out of the running. I find it fascinating to watch both teams compete against their competitors in an attempt to win the championship title each year. Being from the Boston area, otherwise known as Title Town, has probably played a large part in my fondness for watching these sports, but my family has also played a role. My mother is a huge Patriots fan and has taken me to a number of games so I could see some of my favorite players in person. More importantly, she showed me that women can like watching typically macho sports just as much as men. Many men, however, don’t believe this.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day about the Celtics and he asked me “oh you like the Celtics? Name every player on the team then.” This type of question is not uncommon for me or my female friends who enjoy watching sports with predominantly male viewership. I felt up to the challenge during this particular conversation so I started naming every player that I knew on the roster. I was unable to name EVERY player, though, so my friend called me a “bandwagon fan.” Now, if I were a man, I wouldn’t have had to pass this first ‘test’ in order for him to see me as a legitimate fan of the game. He would’ve assumed I knew what I was talking about and respected what I had to say. This kind of sexism is what frustrates me the most about being a female fan. Why can’t I just be a fan? Why does gender have to be involved?

Sexism against female sports fans is seen on a national scale, too. I’m a big fan of watching ESPN’s First Take show, but it plays into this sports sexism. The women on the show are always the ones moderating the debate, presenting the men on the show with debate questions and facts, but never the ones offering opinions or analyses. Perhaps producers of this show, and many others in the field, believe that viewers won’t take the opinions of women as seriously as the opinion of men because of this built-in sexism. 

The NFL released a report stating female viewership was up 5% in the 2019 season. This is a fast growing audience that will be expecting to see more representation on the big screens and on the field in the years to come. As an avid fan, I’m excited to see the landscape change and hope that women continue to make strides in the NFL and NBA in years to come!