Struggles of a female sports fan

 

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a sports addict. Name a sport and there’s a high chance I follow it. I’ve loved all kinds of sports for as long as I can remember- and no, none of them have been particularly influenced by my dad, grandpa or uncle. Since I could pick up a bat or throw a ball, I have taken every opportunity to play some kind of sport. It wasn’t until around my first year of primary school that I started following sports as more of a spectator. My family were not influential when it came to supporting teams. Other families have the teams they follow and their kids either take up the same team or they go for their own. There was no such thing in my family. In fact, it’s a struggle in mine because I’m literally the only one who actively follows sport and actually enjoys watching it. Take the 2016 Grand Final- the family didn’t want to watch and so I had to listen to it online until the last two minutes when I knew the Western Bulldogs had won it. That’s another story, however.  The first time I watched an AFL Grand Final was when I was five years old and I decided to go for the Brisbane Lions…which is kind of funny considering who I ended up supporting two years later. Since then, I’ve become a far more vocal supporter in a range of sports and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve added more sports and teams to my list of who to follow. From footy to rugby to basketball- name a sport and I’ll probably follow it in more than one league. However, that’s not to say I haven’t come across a couple of struggles as a female sports fan. I do admit though, I have broken a lot of stereotypes and changed a lot of male perspectives on the way girls follow sport. I think my sporting knowledge and expertise has helped me gain the respect that a lot of girls who don’t follow sport as actively don’t receive. Again, that’s another thing in itself but I’m not complaining. It’s one of the primary reasons I’ve always been “one of the boys”.

Alright now onto these struggles:

→ Can you even name more than one player/someone other than their most famous player
This is a classic to be honest. I admit, some females follow teams and only know their most famous player. So what? What about the countless number of us who actually do know who the players are? What about the rest of us who cannot only list every player in our team in ascending order of their number, but also name the majority of other players in other teams and statistics/memorable moments involving them? This happened to me once when I got asked to name at least five Collingwood players, so then I proceeded from number 1, onwards. I got to number 9 and the other guy told me to stop and from there on, him and his friends had a newfound respect for me and would always talk footy and sport in general.

→ You’re only watching because such and such is hot
Chances are, this such and such player is someone I don’t even find attractive. No, I do not watch the game for the hot player. That’s not to say I won’t comment on their appearance being like “oh hey, they’re cute”- but they’re most certainly not the reason I’m watching. I watch for the game itself because you know, chances are I probably play it myself.

→ Your family must be super sporty and promote following sport
HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA. No, which is really surprising to a lot of people.

→ Being ignored/brushed off when sports talk is on
If you’re going to talk about sports around girls, maybe ask if they’re into sport or better yet, let the girl talk if she follows the sport instead of ignoring her. Just because she’s a girl, doesn’t mean she’s not interested in sport and has no idea about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew more than you- like in my case, where I can safely say I know more about sport than a lot of guys I know. There was one family lunch I went to and my grandpa completely brushed me off being like “I’ll tell the boys because the girls aren’t interested…” and proceeded to talk about basketball. And not just any basketball- 90s CROATIAN BASKETBALL. My jaw dropped and my dad and uncle just watched me, waiting for a reaction. So instead of cracking it, every time my grandpa would say something, I would list a statistic about a player or a game that he would mention. Eventually, he realised and then shut up whilst my grandma sat there nodding, pleased with the way her granddaughter stood up for herself.

→ Bedazzled/pink/super girly attire
Alright, this is more of a personal thing because everyone can buy what they want. However, why is there such a need for more feminine attire? I don’t want a pink jersey or something with diamonds or rhinestones on it. I can say for sure now that I’ll definitely be dressing my kids up in sports fan attire for my favourite teams (or my future husband’s if they’re different) and I’ll probably by boys’ onesies for my daughter instead of the frills. If she wants to wear frills when she’s older she can. If she wants to support a different team when she’s older, she can…not that she would want to change from the best teams but anyway. It’s sort of a personal, roll-my-eyes moment when I see all the girly-girly stuff.

→ Quizzing us like crazy in an attempt to stump us
Like the player naming one, we seem to be quizzed as to the extent of our sporting knowledge. Apparently in order to be a proper sports fan, you need initiation questions from a bunch of blokes. Thanks for the faith. I wonder what happens with guys who have no idea what on Earth is happening on the sporting field…

→ Violence in sport
It hasn’t been applied to me as much because of my history in karate, but I’ve heard a lot of girls get questioned as to whether they like the brawls in sport. I for one, can’t say I don’t enjoy a bit of a melee. Tempers flare. Both sides are passionate about their game, it happens. It’ll probably happen with me in rugby too. A lot of guys hate the violence too so it’s not just a “female” thing.

→ Having to use some of your extensive knowledge just to be taken seriously
Like the quizzing, it feels like us female fans have to make an extra effort to be taken seriously when it comes to sport.  We have to stand our ground to even be included in discussions. Again, I’ve been luckier than a lot of others in this but even then, it’s super annoying.

→ It’s unladylike
So a lot of this list has been aimed at other guys, but this one is aimed at the women who are the literal stereotype of females not being interested in sport. I’d be a millionaire if I’ve had a greaser thrown in my direction by other female relatives for my undying love for sport. Apparently I’d be far more interested in cooking/cook books/fashion/beauty products/any other feminine thing than sport- just because I’m a girl. Certain ladies in my life know my love of sport, but list everything feminine as things I’m far more into and so buy me those things/talk to me about those things on a regular basis. Despite me telling them I am clearly not interested, they do not seem to get the hint. Meanwhile, the males buy me sports tickets/attire and actually understand me. Other women not interested in sport: If you know a girl who loves sport more than anything else, don’t put that aside. Work with it. Think outside the box and don’t be a tool. Don’t get her things she doesn’t like. Sure you can like both, but from personal experience- sometimes girls only like the sport. Respect that and don’t be one of those.

So people, seriously, respect us female fans. Don’t be a tool. Don’t just assume. Don’t stereotype.

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