The Philadelphia Eagles are 6-0 and I’m ecstatic about it. What I’m not so happy about is having my knowledge constantly challenged and being quizzed by my guy friends. Apparently being a girl isn’t enough to be a fan.
I was raised to be in front of the TV every Sunday in time for kickoff, because my dad wanted to pass down the love and passion for the sport that his family showed him. Over the years I have accumulated not only love for the game but a knowledge of the skills, players, and league in general.
Despite being raised in this environment, I am still constantly challenged about my interest in the sport as if I am a bandwagon; AKA a fan who jumps on board with what’s popular, but doesn’t really hold an interest. I have been asked to name players, specific stats from a random year, and game scores. What makes these interactions even more frustrating is that the questions only come from my guy friends. When I respond to those questions with the correct answer, the typical responses are “Oh wow you’re actually valid!” or “You definitely looked it up!”.
Where does this competitiveness and gatekeeping from men stem from?
According to Fisher Digital Publications 40% of fans in the National Football League are female, with that percentage increasing every season. Despite this small gender gap within American football fans, the gender bias is still heavily present in the network with targeted ads for stereotypical masculine interests with commercials for beer, trucks, and manly colognes and Old Spice deodorant.
This lack of female representation in sports media from targeted masculine ads to majority male broadcasters perpetuates the idea that women are not present within the league or the fan base at all. Yes, the sport itself is played by a man and football holds that history of masculine athleticism of the game, but there is a much larger culture to football than the player himself.
I love the game of football itself with its high energy, competition, and athleticism, however football most significantly reminds me of family. It’s a signifier of the bonding moments I had with my family and the laughs that came from my dad running and jumping around after a Philly touchdown. With that kind of relationship to the sport I would say I am a true and through fan.
Theres a continuation of a pattern of women having this societal pressure to prove themselves worthy in any area of expertise that is male dominated. Despite the almost even gender proportion of fans of the NFL, women fans are disregarded for or held to a higher standard. Give a guy whose never watched a football game in his life a jersey, and most people will never question his knowledge or loyalty to his team.
Having a common interest with someone whether it be football or not should be bonding and enjoyable, not cause to assert dominance. Regardless of who questions my interests and why, Fly Eagles Fly!