Are Women Wired to Support Female Athletes?


by Nicole Marschean, Intern,
National Women's Law Center

Acclaimed sports writer Frank Deford asserted in a February NPR article, “Certainly women themselves do not seem wired to support their gals as men the world over cheer on their guys.” 

Growing up as a female athlete and now an adult-aged sports fan, I can’t disagree with Mr. Deford’s statement. My high school girls’ basketball team, despite being more successful than our male counterparts, barely maintained a fan base outside of our relatives and our school’s faculty members. And personally, I’m aware that I am part of a small group of women who take an interest in women’s sports, although I admit that I am guilty of supporting and following the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL more than the WNBA or other professional/collegiate women’s sports leagues. 

Ladies, take a second to answers these questions:

  • How many professional/collegiate women’s sporting events do you attend every year? How many men’s sporting events? 
  • When you enter office/friendly pools for such things as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, do you ask for or fill out a women’s bracket? 
  • Which are you more likely to watch: a women’s individual sport, such as figure skating, or a team sport, such as basketball?
  • Outside of the Olympics, do you frequently watch professional or collegiate women’s sports?

Are you starting to understand what I mean?  Deford’s commentary hits home on some of these points: 

  • Las Vegas doesn’t regularly entertain bets on women’s sports. Usually the only time to bet on a women’s sporting event is during the NCAA basketball tournament. 
  •  Yes, we, as a nation, will declare Lindsey Vonn or Danika Patrick the female faces of their respective sports, but what about team sports? 
  • What were our real motivations for rallying behind the USA Women’s Soccer team?  Were they more national-based than gender-based?

Viva La Feminista blogger Veronica I. Arreola is looking to change this impression, with the twenty-first century’s form of petition, Facebook. Arreola began the “I pledge to attend one women’s sports event (college/pro) in 2010” Fan Page on the extremely popular social networking site. So far, 679 fans and counting have pledged to “put their money where their heart is” and attend a women’s sporting event, stressing that economic support is just as important as emotional support. The three parts of this challenge are: 
1. Attend ONE women's sporting event in 2010.
2. The sporting event should be professional or collegiate.
3. Ideally, you should have to pay to see the event.

To my fellow women, become a fan and pledge your support! Need ideas? Visit the links below to find a women’s professional sports team near you!

Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL)
Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)

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