The struggle of being a sports fan

LAURINBURG — The glass ceiling is alive and well in the sports world.

As it always has been and it seems always will be.

Last Saturday, I did a guest spot on WLNC radio’s morning sports show with Coach Bailey, Kenny and Justin. Since then, I’ve had a few people tell me they were impressed that I was able to keep up with the boys. While I appreciated the compliment it really struck a cord with me.

Why is it impressive when a female, not even a female sports reporter, has a knowledge of sports?

Women sit on the bench of the Supreme Court and are presidents and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, but knowing the different between pass interference and a touchdown is jaw dropping.

Apparently at Appalachian State they have a class called Football 101, for women only, where ladies drink wine and learn about football. The class has players from the team and even the coach come in and teach these women the basics of the game — come again?

You mean to tell me Appalachian State, a team whose only claim to fame is beating Michigan in 2007, feels they are doing their female fans a service by holding this event? All they are doing is perpetuating the stereotype that women know nothing about sports — unless you dumb it down and serve it with a nice Chardonnay.

As a true football fan I’m ashamed this is a thing and as a woman I’m slightly offended. The class just makes it that much harder for women who are real fans to be taken seriously. If you stay with that train of thought the only possible reasons women could like football are: 1) They are trying to impress a man; 2) They think the players are cute; 3) It’s an excuse for a new outfit or 4) Because their dad must be a fan.

I’m not making these up either, there have been loads of articles written, by men and women, about the reasons why men think women like or watch sports. So, let’s go down the list of why each of those makes me want to bang my head against my desk.

1) I’m trying to impress a man — My boyfriend Justin doesn’t even like sports.

2) I think the players are good looking — There are some attractive men in the NFL, but there is no time for crushes when you’re trying to get your first playoff win since the 1990s. Plus, my favorite player is a 280-pound defensive lineman named Carlos Dunlap.

3) It’s an excuse for a new outfit — Do I own a bunch of Cincinnati Bengals gear? Absolutely and none of it is pink. Here’s the thing, NFL apparel for women either comes in infant sizes — it can’t be called a women’s large when it fits my three-year-old niece — or is low-cut to show off my chest. I don’t want either of those, so I end up buying things from the men’s section because all I want it a regular T-shirt that says Cincinnati Bengals on it.

4) Because my dad must be a fan — My dad is a fan, and I did get my love of the Bengals from him, but he isn’t the reason I’m still a fan.

But defending myself against those stone-age notions isn’t enough. Then I get hit with a pop quiz about the Bengals. I’m asked to defend my fandom by naming a certain number of players on the team, or where they are ranked in the AFC North.

I can do all of that, but why do I need to? When was the last time a man had to defend who his favorite team was? I know the answer to that one too — never.

So the next time you want to question if a woman is a true football fan or not just remember, according to a 2015 study women make up 45 percent of the NFL’s fan base.

Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.

Amber Hatten Sports Editor Hatten Sports Editor
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