Punting, Tackling, and Headbutting

2 Feb

“34% of NFL viewers are female”…explains the caption placed above a young woman in a football jersey. Last weekend’s NYTimes Magazine posted an article by Katie Barker, “The XX Blitz,” which stated that female viewers of footballs games have exploded recently, and it expressed a curiosity as to why, in light of the recent rampant sexism that has been reported of players both inside and outside the locker rooms, women are still turning up in droves to watch the games.Why, Barker asks, would women watch Monday Night Football more than, say, “Glee”?

She speculates that perhaps it’s the human interest aspects of the games, teams and players: the melodrama of it all. “It’s the soap-opera aspect of the NFL that makes it so broadly appealing.” Really? Do so many men watch football because it’s akin to watching “All My Children”? Further, even if this aspect was verifiable, is that really what’s drawing female viewers?

I started asking around: one woman said it’s because that’s what her boyfriend sitting on the couch next to her was watching, and he had the remote. Another said that just because it’s playing on the television doesn’t mean she was watching it. Another added that he knows that if she lets him watch football, he has to have sex with her afterwards.

Regardless of the reasons, Barker’s essay doesn’t begin to shed light on the upsurge. She mentions that the sport’s extreme levels of violence are not any reason to assume that women won’t watch. Granted, but this perspective does not also allow the counter-point that perhaps it is the very violence crunching across the television screen that is drawing some of these women to become avid followers.

It’s curious, but I really have no suggestions of my own. I myself am an extremely avid soccer fan. Why do I watch the “beautiful game” and love it so much? Well, for starters, the pace, the skill in passing, strategy, and teamwork, and the amazing rush of seeing the absolute joy and passion on the players’ faces after scoring, winning, and just playing the field.



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