It would be impossible to critique every glitter-drenched corporate attempt to condescendingly “teach” women “sports.” We don’t have enough time left on this planet. But every once in a while, there’s one so bad that it demands our attention, so here’s one: “How to Use Sports to Talk to Guys,” a workshop promising a room full of Cleveland Browns players, specialty cocktails and lessons on “ways to incorporate sports into conversations.” All for just $50!
The event is sponsored by Cleveland company Sports-ish, which claims to be “a platform for women to learn and understand sports.” The only Browns player mentioned by name in the event listing is tight end Gary Barnidge, who has partnered with the group before, and a Browns spokesperson reached for comment said there is “no organizational involvement or endorsement whatsoever.” (A lack of involvement at the organizational level does not mean players cannot attend such an event independently.) But, hey, why have your event sponsored by the team when you can engage in good old-fashioned sexist pandering all on your own?
Events like these usually at least try to market themselves as educational opportunities—a chance for women to learn about sports for their own personal enrichment, even if the “educational” aspects are intensely patronizing and buried under pink apparel available for purchase. Sports-ish, however, decided to go ahead and eschew that veneer of respectability right in their workshop title. You might think that marketing an event to women should involve acknowledging that a woman can have interests and ambitions beyond attracting a man, but that would make it a little bit harder for Sports-ish to reinforce the gross assumption that any female sports fan is faking her fandom for a man’s attention, and they just do such a good job of that here.
Sports-ish (women don’t want sports, duh, women want sports...ish) apologized for the event’s name after Katie Nolan of Fox Sports called them out on their bullshit last night. But a glance at the company’s website shows that the workshop title was not an isolated misstep; the bulk of their “sports education” comes through pink vocabulary cards seemingly written for elementary schoolers.
Sigh. Looks like I’ll just have to keep on purchasing bedazzled jerseys as I search elsewhere for help achieving my one true goal of attracting a man.