Female football fans on the rise (and in great outfits)

While football is generally seen as the epitome of American masculinity, it looks like women football fans are increasing like a mofo.
While this article by USA Today had to focus on clothing in order to make this increase in female football fans interesting, we find that women’s gear made about 15% of the NFL’s total merchandise sales for the 2005 season compared with 3% in 2004.
The reason for the increase in sales may not even be due to the increase of female fans, but due to a larger production of women’s gear in general. “We’ve finally listened to the cries of women who wanted NFL product,” said Eddie White, vice president of sports marketing.
Nevertheless, women account for 43% of NFL fans, according to Shannon O’Toole, author of the book Wedded to the Game: The Real Lives of NFL Women. The article failed to mention that the book is not about female NFL fans, but is actually about the lives of football players’ wives.
While it’s great that women are being recognized as fans of football, it bothers me that they’re feminized as much as possible in the process, whether it’s discussing their football fashion habits or “wedding” them to the game. After all, we wouldn’t want the “manliness” of the game turning them butch or anything.

Join the Conversation

  • sabrina

    I don’t particularly think it’s “great” that women be recognized as fans of football, or that they be fans at all. I see football as one of the most vivid illustrations of patriarchy existing in our society – it is, pure and simple, the glorification of masculinity, and the culture associated with it is constantly objectifying women. In my view, it kind of adds insult to injury to combine football with the shopping industry.

  • noname

    “I see football as one of the most vivid illustrations of patriarchy existing in our society” – Please explain this to me, because all I see is a game.

  • http://happyfeminist.typepad.com/happyfeminist/ Happy Feminist

    Football is annoying because (a) it is almost universally understood to be a game for men only and for no good reason; (b) to the extent women have a role in the game, it is to cheer from the sidelines in sexy little cheerleader get-ups; and (c) notwithstanding that this game is closed to women, it is almost a religion in many segments of the United States with even high school football players accorded an almost god-like status.
    While I have learned to appreciate the game itself (I’m married to a football fan), the role it plays in our society does indeed illustrate patriarchal mores. Viewed in isolation from its cultural baggage, it is a terrific game. More and more women are bucking expectations and demanding a right to play at high school and college levels– and adult women are forming their own football leagues.

  • noname

    Thanks HF for a good response (although football is only closed to the extent that women have not made their own leagues). Your points are valid. Your post shows a bit more thought than sabrina’s (what is wrong with glorifying masculinity? how does a game objectify women?). The culture surrounding football is certainly flawed (especially in college), but this seems more about fame and money than a simple game.

  • Kel

    I think that while football can be seen as a male dominating sport it is because we as women just accept it to be that way. I love football and I every woman that I hear call football a “male sport” are women who don’t even bother to get to know the game. Don’t whine about something you know nothing about.

  • Turner O

    In the field of sports, many people are hooked up to watching football plays either indoors or outdoors. The NFL specifically is one of the favorites. In connection with this, many football fans might have a great time of mourning, as John Madden will grace the small screen no more. John Madden has not passed away, but instead he is retiring from broadcasting games and from other activities. Madden is among the greats of sports broadcasters. His coverage never needed credit repair for his knowledge of the game. Madden is also in the National Football League Hall of Fame as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, who never had a losing season during his tenure and which included a Super Bowl victory. Chris Colllinsworth is slated to take over for him, but many would give personal loans to keep John Madden at his post.