I have been a sports fan since before I could read a book. Every weekend consisted of watching Dallas Cowboys football and hearing my dad talk about Dallas Cowboys football. Where I’m from, “Faith, Family, Football” is more than just a slogan, it’s a way of life. And I’m not the only girl who lives this way.
According to Nielsen, which is a site that measures what people watch and buy, about a third of the 14 million people who tune in to major sporting events, including the NBA Finals, World Series, Daytona 500 and Stanley Cup, are women. And in 2011, roughly 46 percent of Superbowl viewers were women.
These statistics may be surprising, especially considering the stereotypes that have existed for decades about women and sports, such as the concept that they only watch to look how hot the guys are or to impress a guy they like. But times are slowly changing, and a lot of women are tuning in to sporting events not to see how hot the quarterback or the point guard is, but to actually watch and analyze the game.
I think female sports fans can analyze and understand the game better than some men can. For example, tune in to ESPN’s afternoon show “Around the Horn.” This debate-style show features sportscasters Jackie MacMullan, Sarah Spain and Kate Fagan going against sports experts like J.A. Adande, Bill Plaschke and Woody Paige. These women hold their own and, in some instances, destroy the men with their wit and deep knowledge of sports.
As female sports fans, we’ve all been in situations where we have had to prove our sports smarts. Imagine you’re with your guy friends and they are discussing the latest reason why LeBron James will never be as good as Michael Jordan. You hear, “Well Jordan has six rings, and LeBron has lost four times in the finals” or “Jordan didn’t choke in a finals like LeBron did in 2011 against the Mavericks,” and finally decide that it’s time to chime in.
You explain that while Jordan did win six NBA finals. he had help from hall of fame players Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, while LeBron took a bunch of no-names to the last seven NBA finals.
At once, the group turns and looks at you like you just discovered the cure for cancer. The reaction ranges from, “Wow you really know your sports,” to, “Wow you must watch Sportscenter,” because they can’t accept the truth of the matter: Contrary to popular belief, women love sports just as much as men do.
So the next time you are sitting at Buffalo Wild Wings watching Aaron Rodgers throw the game-winning touchdown or watching Steph Curry hit ridiculous circus-shots, talk to the women sitting around you. Odds are they may actually know what is going on.