An Open Letter From A Female Sports Fan

With March Madness coming to an end, I know all my lady fans are relieved that the time for them to “prove it” is coming to a close. If you’re a female sports fan you know what I mean, anytime your favorite team comes up in conversation there is always someone around you who doesn’t believe you could actually know what you’re talking about. Everything becomes a pop quiz. Suddenly our fellow male fans believe it’s too good to be true that we actually like sports, and I’m getting sick of it.

 

I come from a sports-loving family, athletics is in my blood. There was nothing that my dad loved more than Oklahoma football and because of where he was from I grew up rooting for the Cowboys every Sunday. My mom’s family is probably the biggest group of University of Virginia basketball fans around — my grandpa never missed a game. This is what I grew up on.

As a lifelong sports enthusiast, there are lots of things I get tired of hearing. When people see a girl who enjoys sports their first thought is often that they’re doing it to impress a boy. It’s hard for someone to believe that girls are actually interested in sports just because they enjoy them.

I’ve also been asked if I watch just for the “cute athletes,” if I “change sports teams like I change shoes” and many other stereotypical questions. I’m not the only one, all of my girl friends who love sports deal with the same nonsense at almost every sporting event we go to. It’s 2019, why aren’t girls allowed to enjoy their teams without it being questioned?

Female sports fans are tired of gender roles. Women make up a larger percent of fan bases than people realize (about 45 percent) and despite this our loyalty to our teams is still questioned. We’re accused of being bandwagon or fake fans. People assume that we only watch because of our significant other. When I tell people I like the Cowboys I get questions like, “Oh yeah? Then who is their second string quarterback? What was their record in 2016?” No one would ever question a man like that when he brings up who he roots for, so why am I being tested?

 

The simple truth is that women do enjoy watching and playing sports without any ulterior motive other than they think it’s fun— crazy I know. From a young age, girls are told they can’t do it when it comes to playing and I refuse to have my daughters face this discouragement. It’s hard for young girls to look at the TV and see female athletes getting minimal coverage, a lack of female coaches, female sports journalists, etc. Women fans and athletes both face injustice and it’s time for this to change.

I remember back in 2017 when Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, told a female sports journalist that it was funny to hear a woman talking to him about routes. Women in the sports industry get these comments all the time, and so do fans. If we had a dime for every time we heard “It’s so hot when a girl likes [insert sport here]” we’d have enough money for tickets to the next Superbowl.

When girl’s make March Madness brackets don’t assume that it’s for a boy. When a girl’s role model is her favorite player don’t assume that it’s because of a boy. When a girl has dreams of becoming a star athlete don’t assume that it’s to impress boys.

If my future daughters grow up to love sports as I do then that’s great and if they don’t then that’s okay too. It’s time to stop questioning women sports enthusiasts and just let people love what they love. It’s time to stop assuming that women only watch sports to impress others. I just want to wear my Baker Mayfield sweatshirt in peace without any catcalls, and I know all of my fellow lady fans can say the same.