Someone finally stepped up to the plate. Major league sports are notoriously a boys’ club – the NFL being maybe the biggest offender – so I’m genuinely thankful that at least one team is trying to diversify its audience. That team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently launched RED: The Bucs Women’s Movement in order to reach more female fans.
On the surface, this is a wonderful gesture – a nod to the fact that yes, not all sports fans are men, nor are they even all gender conforming (might be asking a little much there). However, the execution leaves…a lot to be desired.
Right up front, the condescension hits you hard, like the realization that your favorite team is about to embark on a 3-13 campaign.
“A special RED Launch Party for The New Buccaneers Women’s Movement will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10th…[with] a RED Lifestyle Lounge session to educate attendees on the art of incorporating their passion for the Bucs into their other lifestyle interests such as tailgating and home entertaining,” reads the announcement article.
Something about that just hits me as smarmy. Oh, wait, here it is: of fucking course female football fans are in it for the opportunity to cook, entertain and be the perfect housewife. Optics, people! Even if that isn’t what you were going for, it sure seems like it because you put it the third paragraph of the site’s introduction!
“RED will provide female Buccaneers fans with year-round educational experiences focused on providing a better understanding of the game,” the article continues. If the women they’re targeting are already fans, why exactly do they need a better understanding of the game? I smell assumptions, and they’re definitely making a few asses. Why not just say, “Women who like football only like it because of societal pressure, and they don’t know much about what’s going on because they’re too busy entertaining”?
One could almost forgive the assumption that women don’t know anything about football if the “educational experiences” being touted were actually valuable and provided real insight that many fans may not already know. But, of course, the condescension is again piled high.
In the first “RED Term of the Week” (which I can only assume is going to be an ongoing series of articles) the deep, profound idea of the play clock is explained in 170 words. Not even enough to made it SEO’d. This is information that, if you consider yourself enough of a fan to go to a team’s website and dig around a bit, you should probably already know. Why not actually educate people?
In baseball, I love reading articles about why and when pitchers will throw certain pitches, and the strategy behind misleading the batter, but I don’t need the double play explained to me. For female Buccaneers fans, they don’t need someone holding their hand the entire time saying, “Okay now, Joan, this is fourth down. Do we remember what happens on fourth down?”
I don’t think this website was made out of hatred, or mockery, of women. It must be said that reaching out to another demographic is a hard, long process that takes time and mutual trust to carry out. This is a step in the right direction, but the treatment of the female experience on this site is almost two, three or four steps back. Produce articles about female football players, support staff – hell, let’s jump into the female coaches since that’s a mighty relevant topic. If you include that kind of stuff, then articles about fashion tips and how to make the perfect bloody Mary won’t stand out so much.
You have a giant bullhorn – use it for good.