The video starts out simply enough, with a stereotypical pseudo-military march followed by a booming voice announcing “Patriots Today!” and a quick announcement from a corporate sponsor. But this report from the New England Patriots soon takes a turn. There are no highlights of tackles, catches, or even Tom Brady. Hell, there’s no game footage or coach interviews at all. What it does have is racks and racks of women’s clothing, sparkle-laden high heels, and manicures, dubbed “fanicures.” Oh, and there are what look like mimosas—of course there are mimosas. Because this a style lounge and it’s for women.
Welcome to female fandom in the NFL, a strange parallel universe where football teams desperately clamor for our money while reinforcing so many of the stereotypes that women have fought for decades to displace. And this isn’t an accident; it’s the NFL’s intent. Football, the latest thinking goes, has maxed out its American male audience, and to keep growing (and raking in even more billions) the fanbase needs to grow. The easiest way to do that? Bring in women.
But here’s the NFL’s vision of female fans. They’re fans who don’t know the rules and need special classes to learn them. Fans who need sparkles on everything. Fans who can be appeased with a nod, a wink, and empty rhetoric on issues that actually affect them, like breast cancer and domestic violence. This isn’t to say that it’s not okay to enjoy some of this stuff. (Who hasn’t painted their nails team colors?) The problem is that this is almost exclusively the only version of womanhood offered—sexed up, dumbed down, and focused on supporting your man, with no room to be any other way. And dear God, there’s just so damn much of it.
Even the league’s more serious efforts are, at best, tissue thin. In advance of Super Bowl 50, the NFL held a “Women’s Summit” where commissioner Roger Goodell announced a “Rooney Rule” for women in executive positions. Like other NFL initiatives it sounds good, and doesn’t have a lot behind it. The change hasn’t been made, but the league is “going to formalize” it. Goodell didn’t say when it was going to be formalized; he didn’t say if this is for the league offices only or will include teams too; he didn’t give any details about who would be covered beyond the incredibly vague “executive positions”; and he didn’t mention the recent study that found the Rooney rule did nothing to address racism at all the levels below head coach.
He announced it, got his applause, and walked off stage. The glowing headlines followed, the message unchanged. The NFL gives women a pittance, and in return gets an ovation.
Are other leagues completely innocent? Not even close. MLB hosts plenty of embarrassing Ladies’ Nights. NASCAR has the better-half dash. The NBA wants women to lean in. The NHL has the godforsaken ice girls, cleaning the ice in barely there clothing. They all have too much pink shit.
But nobody does it quite like the NFL, partly because the NFL is the biggest sport in America right now, and partly because of the culture of football itself. Where, how, and why that women-are-lesser seed got planted is up for debate. Is it because of the sport’s militaristic ways? Because women don’t play the tackle version in college? Because it’s weird to picture a woman enjoying such a violent sport? Because football, more so than any other North American sport, is seen as a proxy for manliness? Maybe it’s a bit of all these and more.
This blog post began as two women going back and forth about all the dumb things our favorites teams tried to sell us and the list went on and on and on. When we proposed this project, we weren’t sure where to begin, so we catalogued it. All of it.
Do you feel uncomfortable learning about football from men? (No.) Do you feel like you can only enjoy football around other women? (No.) Do you wish football people talked down to you like being a woman made you inherently stupider and less informed than your male counterparts? (Oh heavens no.). Well, guess what? The answers don’t matter, because NFL teams have made a product that checks all these boxes anyway.
Welcome to the world of football for women programs, where women sign up for Workout Wednesday (New York Giants), meetups that include a Stein Mart fashion show (Jacksonville Jaguars) or Bingo (Ravens) and of course Football 101/201 (Seahawks, Redskins, Steelers, Titans, really damn near all of them). If you join the Faithfulistas (the 49ers version), your starter kit includes a koozie, spirit beads, and a mirror compact.
According to ESPNw, the first female-only football club sponsored by a team is the one for the Baltimore Ravens, dubbed Purple. (Get it? Purple!) ESPNw called them trailblazers, which is obvious because their main event had a cupcake station and a wine-tasting station.
It’s not even the existence of these clubs that’s the most infuriating; it’s the way they reflect what team leaders think of female football fans: We don’t know the rules, we don’t know the players, and we’d prefer it if team events resembled our sorority reunions. All that’s missing is gratuitous references to Pinterest.
Wait, here come the Buccaneers with Pinterest. When the Buccaneers launched their own program, dubbed RED, its mission included “tips on sharing their experiences and ideas via social media platforms such as Pinterest.” Because not only are women too stupid to learn football on their own, women also must have social media explained to them.
As Leslie Horn said in her delicious takedown of the RED program: “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some jerseys that need bedazzling.”
When the Buccaneers announced RED, the program was widely panned for what it was: low-level pandering. Did the Bucs listen? No. In true NFL fashion, they made the press release announcing all this go away while the program, and the horrible stereotypes baked into it, go on. Here’s their homepage, including a “RED clinic” on how a pass play works. And that’s the worst part of all about these clubs—they’re very good at pandering to the stereotypes of women, less good at actually listening to women.
But women say we like shopping, right? How else to explain a more recent invention in the NFL-for-women playbook?
This is a photo from Patriots’ style lounge, which was not alone because no team does anything alone. This was part of a program rolled out by multiple teams in 2012. If this were about selling team gear that was built for women’s bodies, that would be great news. But, no, this is football which means this also is a seized-upon opportunity to double-down on female stereotypes. There’s gonna be a DJ. There’s gonna be a stylist. There’s even a photobooth.
Here is what the Colts offered at their 2012 style lounge (bold is as in the original):
– Strut your style in the photo booth
– Treat yourself to a complimentary manicure featuring blue and white colors.
– Listen to music by our DJ
– Talk with our professional stylist about how to create your personal Colts look!
– Shop for the newest Colts gear made just for women featuring Nike, Touch by Alyssa Milano, and more!
They all have the same rundown, a middle school sleepover recreated at a football game. But even richer is that the lounges were described as a reward for female fans. Here’s what Tanya Snyder, wife of Dan Snyder, said on the launch of the Washington edition.
“This boutique shopping experience is an exciting opportunity for the Redskins and NFL to team up and reward loyal female fans,” said Tanya Snyder. “The Redskins Style Lounge showcases merchandise created specifically for our passionate female fans. The apparel strives to ensure that women can represent their team and feel included on gameday, as well as empowered in the Redskins community.”
That a team led by a man who refuses to admit their name is a disgusting slur that should be erased immediately thinks making clothing that fits women properly is a good reward for “loyalty” isn’t shocking. But it’s next-level disgusting to then suggest that an opportunity to go shopping is somehow empowering. It’s a stereotype repackaged as empowerment, which is horrifying, but also an area where the NFL has some experience.
Look! The NFL hires women! They just have to look hot, dance, and wear next to no clothing. Don’t expect a real wage for these hours of work, either. If you can meet all those requirements, welcome to your local NFL cheer squad. Let’s go over some of the lowlights from the lives of NFL cheerleaders—essentially a team’s most prominent female employees—brought to light because of lawsuits showing the women getting paid less than minimum wage, while their teams bring in billions.
From the handbook for the Buffalo Bills’ Jills, whose lawsuit is ongoing. On conduct:
14. Do not be overly opinionated about anything. Do not complain about anything- ever hang out with a whiner? It’s exhausting and boring.
26. Do not consume conversations & watch body language. Be aware of female companions and children. Always turn the conversation back to the other person. Never flirt!
On your period:
7. ALWAYS shower after a work out and change undergarments.
11. Intimate area’s: Never use a deodorant or chemically enhanced product. Simple, non-deodorant soap will help maintain the right PH balance.
12. When menstruating, use a product that right for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus. A product left in too long can cause bacteria or fungus build up. Products can be changed at least every 4 hours. Except when sleeping, they can be left in for the night.
On how to eat food:
2. When cutting meat. Never cut the full piece of meat all at once. Cut as you go, American style (cut and switch fork to right hand to eat) or European style (keeping fork in left hand to eat) eating is acceptable.
From the fines schedule for the Raiderettes, who were paid $125 a game:
Forget to bring (including but not limited to) correct pom(s) or props to practice? $10.00 fine
Wear wrong designated workout wear and/or footwear for two-piece Wednesday rehearsals, special rehearsals and/or game day rehearsals? $10.00 fine
Not able to get bios in on time? $10.00 fine
Forget all or part of the official uniform, boots, and or poms for any event or game day? $10.00 fine (per item) and/or benched from game (-125.00)
Boots not clean and polished for game day? $10.00 fine
Failure to follow point #1 under Etiquette or Appearances (Game Day Ready)? $10.00 fine
And from the Ben-Gals, who were warned about slouchy breasts.
No panties are to be worn under practice clothes or uniform, not even thong panties. Wear pantyhose to match skin tone (L’eggs). No Danskins/Dance type tights. No control top at practices or games. No exposed skin at ankles — pantyhose must extend down into socks.
No slouching breasts. Support as needed. Black or nude seamless bra mandatory for games. (No lace)
The Ben-Gals, Raiderettes, New York Jets cheerleaders, and Buccaneers cheerleaders all have won settlements. The Jills are suspended while their lawsuit continues. As of right now, about two dozen of the league’s 32 teams have active cheerleading squads—and there’s one female coach.
The response to Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiance and the Greg Hardy photos raises an interesting question. What’s worse—the NFL not giving a shit about domestic violence, or the NFL pretending to give a shit?
For years, a league that vigorously polices the morality of its workforce went silent on the domestic-violence issues brought into vivid relief by Jovan Belcher shooting his girlfriend nine times, then driving to the Chiefs’ facility and shooting himself; by Shawne Merriman’s arrest on charges that he choked Tila Tequila and threw her to the ground when she tried to leave; and by the two separate times Terrell Suggs was accused of beating up his then-fianceé (now ex-wife) in applications for restraining orders, including one where she said he knocked her down and poured bleach on her.
If the hypocrisy was too much to bear, there was at least the consolation that Roger Goodell wasn’t using domestic violence the way he’d used most other varieties of criminal behavior—as a means of labor control, as a way of cadging for good PR, as a way of satisfying football fans’ “longing for benevolent paternalism,” in author Michael Oriard’s phrase.
Now, though, thanks to the infamous Ray Rice elevator video, the NFL has a stringent-seeming punishment regime and domestic-violence advisers and an owner giving a tearful speech about standing “firmly against domestic violence” and some utter boob telling Peter King that “Roger has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space.” That last quote is the giveaway. Domestic violence represents just another niche in the market, another way to court the female fan so the NFL machine can print more money.
Which is why that “leader in the domestic-violence space” fell apart so quickly the moment all the details about the Greg Hardy case came out. Roger Goodell acted as if he could get right a complex issue that affects millions of Americans, one that some of the smartest minds on the issue acknowledge has no good and easy answers. Even more inanely, he thought he could solve it the NFL way, with punishment and policy, regardless of the fact that harsh punishments, while sounding good on paper, might not do much to make battered women any safer.
They didn’t even need a consultant to know this. From a personal essay, also on the MMQB, from Steelers cornerback William Gay, whose mother was killed by her boyfriend when he was a child:
If we’re going to fix this problem in the NFL, our focus can’t be solely on what the punishments should be. The main priority needs to be helping victims—to show them how they can be heroes. The league needs to be asking, Why is this occurring? And how can we help prevent this? The NFL needs to focus on setting up programs that can help men and women have healthy relationships. Let players know about what facilities or services are available. We, as players, need to continue talking about this. Keep the issue of domestic violence in the conversation to raise awareness. That’s where our energy needs to be.
Surely, the NFL is embracing Gay, right? Here’s an active player on a prominent team, speaking thoughtfully on the issue that’s rocked the league. Well, it depends on how you define embracing. Which leads us to the next category.
In 2012, the White House released “1 Is 2 Many,” featuring a parade of entertainment and sports celebrities telling us that “no one should ever hit a woman.” (Apparently, a lot of guys were on the fence about whether or not to hit women until Eli Manning told them it was a no-no.)
On the same line, we now have very special PSAs featuring only NFL players telling us “No More.” (Incidentally, this sort of undermines the old tagline, but at least it’s not “1 was 2 many, but try not to do it again.”) Look, here’s old standby Eli!
There’s the fair point to made here that if they save one life, then the PSAs was worth it. But how much does the NFL really stand behind the words of these PSAs when it fines players for showing support for these exact same issues? Cameron Heyward’s tribute in his eyeblack to his deceased father (himself an NFL legend who died from cancer) got fined. DeAngelo Williams wearing pink outside of October to honor his mother’s death from to breast cancer earned him a fine.
But it’s tough to top the hypocrisy of what happened to Gay, who’s been an active voice against domestic violence for years, since long before it became an issue on the NFL’s PR radar. It seems like he has said yes to every PSA he’s been asked to do, on top of talking publicly about such a difficult topic, on top of visiting the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. He wore purple cleats to promote domestic violence awareness. The NFL fined him $5,787 for it. (Gay told NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala that he “hopes the NFL will send his entire fine to a domestic violence cause.”)
The lesson here? Players can care about social issues—but they’d better do it on the NFL’s terms, in ways that promote the NFL’s brand.
Where to begin with the NFL’s widely debunked “A Crucial Catch ?” It gives away barely a dribble of the NFL’s billions to combat breast cancer. That money goes to an organization that largely doesn’t fund actual research for a cure. Oh, and the NFL’s program tells women over 40 to get yearly mammograms despite the fact that the recommendation now is once every other year not starting until age 50. As Karuna Jaggar points out at the Guardian, the NFL isn’t just pandering, it’s promoting bad science:
In 2009, when the NFL started Crucial Catch, the evidence was clear that mammography screening had been overhyped as a solution to breast cancer. In that year, the US Preventive Services Task Force changed their recommendation that women have mammograms every one to two years starting at age 40 to every two years starting at age 50. Now, five years into the NFL’s outdated and inaccurate campaign, the evidence is even more overwhelming that early detection is a flawed strategy that distracts from meaningful solutions.
Oversimplified messages and widespread falsehoods like the NFL’s can lead many women in the US to overestimate their risk of breast cancer, overestimatethe benefit of mammograms and underestimate the harms from routine screening. Inaccuracies like the NFL’s manipulate women’s emotions through fear-mongering and false promises.
But oh Lord doesn’t all that pink just pop at you off the TV screen. The pink sweatbands. The pink shoes. The pink jerseys. Even the iconic Terrible Towel has been drenched in pink despite the fact that the towel already generates millions for the Allegheny Valley School for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Perhaps helping people with disabilities just didn’t register as cool enough with the Steelers marketing department anymore.
All of this looks great, which of course is what this is all about—looking good, while doing nothing to stop breast cancer. And if that seems harmless, here’s Julie DiCaro talking about how her own children said they could fight breast cancer by wearing pink (and doing nothing else) because it “raises awareness.” DiCaro’s guess as to where they got the idea? The NFL.
It’s not just that the NFL is doing nothing, it’s telling America that doing nothing is the perfect way to show you care.
Because it can’t be for women if it doesn’t sparkle, right? Even better, sparkle and look sexy. After years of getting shade for its shrink-it-and-pink-it mentality, ignoring the reality that women are smart enough to realize their team colors are not actually pink, the NFL started getting into the radical business of making clothing for women that actually fits our bodies properly.
The good news is the NFL shops aren’t terrible anymore. They have shirts and pants that properly fit women. They aren’t (all) pink. Progress! But things feel less equal when comparing men’s offerings to women’s offerings.
For example, here are the offering for men in the sleepwear/underwear department for a team selected at random, the Arizona Cardinals.
And here are the women’s options, which unlike the men’s includes a whole lot of frilly underwear.
I repeated this with the Ravens, the Packers, and the Seahawks. For the men, the sexiest it got was some boxer shorts. For the women, things got sexy pretty quick. The Ravens, of these randomly chosen teams, get the award for having the most thong options available with seven. Did there have to be so many thongs? (No, there didn’t.)
Even the well-intentioned Touch by Alyssa Milano feels a little gross. This line of team gear aimed at women has a good backstory, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Milano got tired of only having options in pink for sports apparel. But why is a former TV celebrity telling us what to buy? Why is the motto “Where the game meets the after party”? Why does Milano model almost every single piece of clothing?
It’s in accessories, though, where the NFL Shop makes its true descent into full-on party-girl stereotypes. There were three shoes available for women in the Panthers team store this week. First up? Platform heels, with leopard print on the inside.
Oh, you wanted something a little more comfortable during game day? OK, how about flip flops in, of course, pink?
And for cold days impressive Ugg ripoffs, which get bonus points for being multiple stereotypes rolled into one.
Few left! Go get them now!
As long as you’re in the kitchen—and perhaps also barefoot and pregnant?—it may interest you to know that Williams-Sonoma partnered with both the NFL and MLB to produce team logo aprons. They’re pretty neutral on the gendered scale, but then again they are sold in a section of the site designated for “homekeeping,” so.
Once you’ve gotten yourself outfitted, might you be up for a spot of baking? Bed, Bath & Beyond has you covered with these NFL teams cookie cutter kits. Do you prefer cake to cookies? Well you’re in luck! Here is that store’s collection of NFL cake pans, which can also be “used to make frosted cakes, gelatin desserts, or frozen ice sculptures.” Are you more of a drinker than a baker? Not to worry, BB&B has a set of sweet NFL wine glasses. Even better, a team high-heeled wine bottle holder. Wait, there are also wine stoppers with NFL-themed high heels on top. The only thing missing is the open-toe or closed-toe option.
Clearly, women are just into football for all the cool home accessories and parties.
It’s a little old, but too legendary to ignore. The Gronktini stands alone as perhaps the most honest thing on this list. Gronk is a simple man, and he didn’t waste time hiding his intentions. Oh, sure there was a discussion of football fundamentals scheduled for his football clinic ... after the cocktail hour, which included Gronktinis.
The ingredients of the Gronktini never have been disclosed, but here’s one theory: cheap vodka, cut pecs, and a dash of, “Hey baby, wanna see my Super Bowl ring?”
Okay, a reporter went to one and said they’re basically pomegranate Martinis. Kim O’Hara’s experience at the clinic went about as you would expect. There was a cocktail hour, debate whether those in attendance were “girls” or “ladies,” teaching a few basic football moves, followed by a “Super Bowl” that really was “a tug-of-war match with Rob and his Gronk brother Gordie.” Gronk and the other football pros, she wrote, were quite professional, despite all the women who really were there just to try and catch a Gronk.
Then there were the participants whose effort levels were conditional—specifically, conditional on Gronk being present to watch. Their aggressiveness and exertion remained at a consistent level until Gronk appeared near their stations, at which point the women would channel their inner Ndamukong Suhs and catapult into a different stratosphere of look-at-me! In one such instance a pigtailed young woman (pictured in the header above, staring holes into Gronkowski’s back) nearly bowled me over in a “non-contact” ball-carrying drill. I was wearing a brace on my knee that night because I had previously torn an ACL playing pick-up football. I wasn’t keen on tearing another just because Pigtails was trying to AP her way into a tackling drill with our host.
It’s as if someone thought, “Let’s make this as uncomfortable as possible for the actual female football fans while creating a great place to gather all the women who want to have sex with Gronk.” Though another women’s clinic isn’t scheduled right now, don’t worry. It lives on—perfected, really—in spirit on board the Gronk Party Ship.
Its the artistic choice to use the spelling “chix” that really makes this special.
Oh for fuck’s sake, this is a manicure. It’s a manicure in team colors. Women aren’t stupid. Just call it a goddamn manicure, OK?
Just because it was infuriating, let’s revisit some of the write ups from when the CoverGirl “fanicures” launched in 2013. Because not only will the NFL pander to women, but the media likes to help with that.
From Fitness magazine:
Who says guys should have all of the fun during football season? If the men in your life have been spending endless hours doing their fantasy draft and gearing up for game day, listen in: Just in time for the official kickoff tomorrow, CoverGirl is teaming up with the NFL to help you show your team pride with eye-catching nail art (consider it a touchdown for your tips).
From People, which pretends the NFL and CoverGirl actually invented this stuff:
Calling all football fans! There is now an even better way to celebrate your fandom than promoting your team on social media (and, fine, promoting your wing-eating skills at the bar on game day). What’s that, you ask? Promoting your team on…your nails.
It’s as if these publications thought women didn’t understand football, which is another problem.
Behold the seasonal cycle of garbage NFL purchases in women’s magazines. The big moment for these was in 2013, with a 16-page insert in Marie Claire called “The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Football”. The content included tips on hosting a Super Bowl party and a guide to “quarterback bromances.” It’s as if female football fans didn’t just want to watch the game and enjoy it like men do.
Since then, it hasn’t really gotten better; they just change the slogan. In 2014, they bought more ad pages across women’s magazines, even in the chic Vogue, telling us: “Together, we make football fierce. Together, we make football stunning. Together, we make football fashionable. Together, we make football captivating.”
Clearly, women don’t watch football to enjoy football. Nope, we’re here for the fashion show! That’s why the NFL this year did videos with Vogue showing women how to dress to fashionably to support our teams, because surely the last thing the NFL wants is ugly outfits in the stands. The title of this video is “How To Dress Like A Champ.” We’ll spare you the pain of watching it, but know that the opening advice goes, “Here, Rachel wears a fur scarf to instantly elevate this trend and keep supporting the Saints.”
The PR machine that is Heads Up Football and its promise of safety through better tackling has been discussed before. There’s science that raises legitimate questions about sub-concussive hits and how, over time, they might be just as cumulatively dangerous as the ones that cause concussions. There’s more science that shows that, even with proper tackling, concussions are still going to happen because of factors that even include the condition of the field. There’s the online certification process that’s a joke.
There aren’t many good answers when it comes to concussions in a sport riddled with them, whose basic, central act involves hitting another man and getting him to the ground. A player and his coaches can do everything right and the player still might get a concussion and the coaching staff still might miss the symptoms. But information like that might cause a mom to keep her son out of youth football, removing him from the pipeline to NFL loyalty.
Enter the mom camps, a thinly veiled program to convince moms that football is a-okay. It’s as if they thought women couldn’t do their own research into whether their sons should play football.
From Tom LaNeve, a master trainer for Heads Up, at a Washington moms camp:
“I’ll be honest, my wife did not want my son anywhere near the game football, but once she started understanding the game and understanding what we’re trying to do out there, the knowledge opens up the reality of, “Ok I understand the game now, now how can I help? How can I make things a little bit better, keep my child safer?” LaNeve said. “That’s why we’re here as far as educating the moms so that they can not only understand the process, but actually go out there and do it like they were doing. So if you’re doing it, you understand how we’re teaching.”
From Mo Streety, who coordinates the Arizona Cardinals youth football program, at a 2014 camp in Tempe:
“If you’ve got the moms involved — and they’re often the decision-makers in what kids do — then they can understand we’re trying to make this a safer game,” he said.
From former Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton, a USA Football master trainer and the team’s manager of youth and community programs, speaking at a South Florida clinic in April:
“Right now we know that there’s a lot of bad press about concussions and the numbers of kids that are participating in youth football has lowered over the past few years, but I think with the USA Football program, we’re just here to inform moms, who we consider the decision-makers in the household, about concussion awareness, heat and hydration, proper equipment fitting and more importantly Heads Up Football tackling techniques that take the head out of football.”
Yup! Just throw moms a camp and some free T-shirts and we’re all good. It’s not like women can do independent research or have the Internet. At the end, participants get a goody bag. Because moms love goody bags, right?
The worst part is that these aren’t good makeup tutorials. The entire point of YouTube makeup tutorials was that the random woman with amazing makeup shows you how she does it. The whole charm was that Michelle Phan wasn’t a professional makeup artist (even if now she oversees a makeup empire). Another key part is the person applying the makeup to herself, because that’s actual women do it. Watching a makeup artist apply makeup to a person sitting silently in a chair is pretty much useless.
Nevertheless, the NFL saw an opening and made these.
For the Panthers:
For the Seahawks:
Wait, those team looks are almost identical! But things got a little different for the Cardinals. Barely.
These videos left us underwhelmed. They’re filled with product placements that almost surely were bought by sponsors. (That can be an issue with makeup videos, but it’s easier to understand why a getting-by makeup blogger does it as compared to the billion-dollar NFL). The videos don’t give any good advice for how to get these looks, just the usual one-liners typically found in beauty magazines (lipliner will help your lipstick stay on is actual advice given). But, most importantly, these are just bad. YouTube already was filled with much better looking makeup from actual female football fans.
For Panthers fans, here’s this:
For Seahawks fans, try this:
For Cardinals fans, here’s one good option.
Maybe give the NFL points for trying, but that’s what all these acts of pandering rely on. Hey ladies, we acknowledged you. Here are your T-shirts, here is your makeup, here is your policy. Now shut up and watch some damn football. As if acknowledgement and pithiness was all women wanted.
Below the Seahawks makeup video on YouTube, the first comment is from a woman, “I LOVE this!!!! So glad that the NFL is reaching all audiences including women! Can’t wait to see what other looks are on the way!! ” The second is also from a woman: “They do realise this is a PRO FOOTBALL CHANNEL and NOT A MAKEUP CHANNEL I WANNA SEE TOP PLAYS AND PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS!!!!! AND TOMORROW I BETTER SEE BENGALS VS STEELERS AND CHIEFS VS TEXANS!!!!!!”
It’s the female sports experience. Women aren’t invisible anymore, but we’re very much viewed as stereotypical women. We like makeup. We like pink. We like thongs. We like sparkles. We like cooking. We’re suckers for expensive clubs and a well-done PSA. Hey, on any given day any one of these things may be true. Other days, it’s not. We also might be smart enough to learn the rules of football without your “women’s only” club.
Women, like Rex Ryan’s defensive playbook, are complicated. It’s a shame the NFL can’t realize that.
Top image via Associated Press, cheerleaders and mouthguards via Getty