How the NFL Courts Women

by Robin Forman

I hate the Steelers. Always have.

I hate the Ravens. I have since they stole my team from me in 1996.

I’m supposed to hate them. I’m from Cleveland.

And yet, due to an article in The Washington Post (curse you, Post!) I am left with no choice but to respect these two teams for reaching out to women.

The National Football League (NFL) has been trying to reach female fans for years. They catered kickoff shows to be more female-friendly, they launched an advertising campaign showing the gentler, more family-oriented side of NFL players. And their line of ladies’ NFL gear is downright couture.

The Ravens and the Steelers have gone an extra 100 yards…in heels.

The Ravens have a female fan club called Purple. The club, launched this August, is free to join. This is where they start getting brilliant: members of the club receive information about the team as well as fitness tips from the team’s strength and conditioning coach, nutritional advice from the team’s nutritionist, and discounts from sponsors.

For $250 you can join the exclusive Lavender Ladies. The Lavender Ladies enjoy perks like private autograph sessions, a day at training camp, and gifts such as wine glasses and handbags.

Now, while the Steelers may not have a “ladies only” fan club (ha!) like the Ravens they are hosting a Ladies Night Out tonight that will include a prime rib dinner and a tour of Heinz Field.

Eighteen teams in the NFL offer Football 101 classes and they draw 10,000 women each year.

The Indianapolis Colts offer women’s classes: Women’s 101-Beginner, 101-Advanced, and Women’s 201 which actually allows the women to run through various drills on the field.

Women make up 46 percent of the Ravens’ fan base.

So how are the Browns tapping into this interest from female fans? How are they welcoming the lady Backers with open arms? They’re not.

I guess it just goes to show that the lovely ladies of Cleveland don’t need incentive; we just need the pure brown and orange love in our hearts.

(To see this week's NFL predictions, please visit Rocky's Football Corner.)

(The photo is by paigehortman327 from a public album on webshots.)

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Jeff Siegel said...

Don't get so excited. The NFL doesn't give a damn about equal opportunity, feminism or anything like that. (Just ask African-American coaches.) The NFL is courting sponsors, and sponsors love 18- to 35-year-old women -- and there ain't a whole lot of 18- to 35-year-old women among the usual group of NFL fans.

The NFL is so marketing focused that if there was a way to teach dogs to watch football games, and the NFL thought it could get some Purina dollars, you'd see football classes for dogs.

Robin, Daughter of the Desert and American Bad Ass said...

Oh, I never thought the NFL cared about equal opportunity or (hysterical laughter) feminism. Feminism? Are you serious? I know I'm still pretty new to this world (at least for this life) but I've watched the games and even auditioned to be an NFL cheerleader, and their outfits don't exactly scream Wollstonecraft to me.
I'm just saying that they're reaching to their female fans (yes, as another market to which they can sell things) and the Browns didn't seem to be doing anything extraordinary.
And there are some stats out there that say that 46% of NFL fans are women. That seems like a pretty big percentage. Granted the women may be watching or attending the games because if they don't their husbands or boyfriends will leave them for someone who does watch the game, but they're there.

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