By Patricia Baer
With NFL games started, football season is in full swing now. Between high school, college, and pro games, a person can spend an entire weekend immersed in pigskin play. Lately there has been a lot of attention focused on women as a growing demographic among football fans. This baffles me a little.
From what I recall of my high school days—way back in that faraway time known as “The 80s”—the moms were the ones rooting loudest in the stands. And in college, the crowd was equal parts men and women decked out in school pride gear. One could argue that the pundits are referring to women’s interest in NFL football, but anyone who has lived in Wisconsin knows fanaticism for The Pack is not limited to one gender.
So what it really comes down to is dollars spent, as in there has been an increase in dollars spent by women on NFL team wear, tickets, or sports cable packages. Still, I do not necessarily believe this equates to a sudden discovery of the game by women. Instead, I think it is like a lot of equality issues where women are tired of the old stereotypes, and many have grown up in households where these stereotypes were not even promoted.
I think many of us have always been in love with the game, and we no longer want to pretend that we are not. (I am Lions Fan. Hear me roar.) We have also reached an age where we have a disposable income that can be spent on NFL products. We no longer hesitate to show our enthusiasm and proudly wear it on our sleeve, literally.
I fall into the non-stereotype description. Instead of discouraging my interest because of my gender, it has been embraced as one of the ways I have been able to bond with my father. My dad and I do not agree on a lot of things, but we both love a good football game.
That is not to say that we back the same team, but we both admire the beauty of a 100-yard kickoff return and the stamina of a running back dragging opposing players downfield as he refuses to be taken to the ground. It does not seem to matter who is playing as long as it is a good battle and we are taking the time to hang out together.
And that is part of what being a fan is all about, spending a Sunday afternoon with friends and family. Neither gender has a monopoly on that desire.