by Bert Bartlett
Let’s face it, divorce rates in this country would practically double if not for women’s tolerance of their mates’ indulgence in watching football every fall. Women used to be known mostly for standing in the background, arms folded, itemizing more worthwhile things to do on a Sunday afternoon, frequently wondering when the game was over, and a passing comment about such and such a player’s derriere. These days, women chime in with Intercept!, and have opinions every bit as valid as the referees on the field under the hoodie during the peep shows that are challenges of instant replays. When learning about the game, I have found the orientation of women’s questions, even if sometimes a tad odd, refreshing in comparison to the baggage that veteran watchers bring to it each season. And thankfully, leftovers have become the exception and not the norm for game day cuisine.
I didn’t solicit the NFL for it’s customer demographics (inevitably confidential), but it is a safe assumption that for the past several years, women have been the league’s fastest growing fan segment on their Nielsen charts, account for the largest percentage increase in sales of team apparel, and are no small reason that pro football has remained recession proof. It is no coincidence that on August 18th, a new NFL Shop For Women is opening at 3932 Magazine St. in New Orleans, the first one in the country devoted exclusively to the fairer sex. It’d be a shocker if the boutique didn’t do brisk business.
Writer Erica Boeke has grabbed the bull by the horns. She is co-author of the book The Kick-Ass Guide for Women Who Love Pro Sports, and the creator of gogameface.com, which provides ongoing common ground for women (and men too). She relays that her site gets about 25,000 visitors per week, “small” by her standards. She also relays that though the Pittsburg Steelers are her team, last year she adopted the “other” Black & Gold one for their magic carpet ride to the Super Bowl. A little Bless You Boys was on her site, and she is interested in blogging about A Tale Of Two Seasons after the book comes out of its first printing. Male co-writer Chris De Benedetti may have the best sports media job of all, it being in the company of lots of women – who actually like football!
There may be plenty of pink #9 jerseys hanging in New Orleans, but women in these parts are not in the closet about adoring The Mannings when they are on the tube. My own sister’s celebration of the Saints winning the big game was muted by divided loyalties because Peyton came up on the short end of it, despite her hometown team having been trying to get there since LBJ was President. C’mon, Man! Oops.
Besides being naturally interested in women’s take on Two Seasons, there could be some lively discourse amongst blogs the week of Halloween, when Erica’s Steelers visit the Superdome. Gamefaces versus Souls! The contest would not be touted like the sham tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Bille Jean King was, though. Then it would be a dead giveaway as to who would win.
Erica Boeke is the co-author of “GameFace: The Kick-Ass Guide for Women Who Love Pro Sports” and the co-creator of GoGameFace.com. She lives in New York City and Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, but deeply loves the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, she plans to name her first child, boy or girl, Franco Harris Boeke.
P.S. I need to suggest to Erica to think twice before naming her future child after Pittsburgh legend Franco Harris, hoping that she first peruses old rosters for the names of those offensive linemen who made him a star. Fodder for Steeler Week…..