That was my response when I enjoyed the second of TWO ridiculous articles that appeared on ESPN’s site directed at women, espnw.com. The first was a guide to drafting for fantasy football. For those who may not know, fantasy sports generally involve you collecting players from around the league onto your team and earning points based on the individual performance of those players. It’s a fun way to stay engaged in the rest of the league, and adds excitement to games where your home team isn’t a participant, but your fantasy team may have members. I’ve participated in fantasy football, mostly because it’s something that my friends were interested in, and I wanted to give it a try. I decided that, not following the league, it wasn’t really for me. However, even as the casual player that is targeted towards, I’m still pretty insulted that the authors thought they had to dumb down the concept of “good players”… well, I’ll let them use their own words here.
We have the nuts-and-bolts rankings. But we also break players down into categories. Elite stars are considered “Marriage Material,” in our books. That next crop of guys is “Boyfriend Potential.” Then “It’s Complicated,” “Friends With Benefits,” “Flirts” and our version of the waiver-wire pickups – “One-Night Stands.”
So, girls, if you don’t understand fantasy football, keep in mind that it’s because you haven’t tried to think about it in terms of which guys you’d like to bone because of their football prowess. The article goes off the rails in it’s first three sentences, even.
Fantasy football is all about relationships. Sure, the stats and matchups matter. But most of us play because it keeps us connected with friends and family.
Yeah, I did want to stay connected with friends. But, “most of us”? really? According to this businessweek.com article, the NFL is counting 45% of their fans as women. 45%. And ESPNW itself said in 2011 that 20% of fantasy football players are women. What happened, ESPN, that 3 years ago you were talking excitedly about participating in a game, and now you’re explaining that good football players are somehow like guys that you should marry???
If ESPNW had only failed at this, I might’ve retweeted my anger, and moved on. I don’t play fantasy sports anymore; I found that I can’t maintain the amount of focus on the entire league, and do the other things in my life that I consider important, and that I’m happier just keeping an eye on the league table. However, it wasn’t. Yesterday was the National Women’s Soccer League final. My team was in it, and I got to attend in person, with the sunburn to prove it! Sadly, we lost, and I drove home somewhat disappointed (Next year, ladies, it is ALL ours!), only to return to see this:
(disclaimer: I see, upon writing this up, that ESPN has re-headlined their article finally, to “Amy Rodriguez Delivers NWSL Championship to FC Kansas City”. Thank you. I’m still pissed, though.) I could not believe that the headline wasn’t about the amazing plan and execution by Kansas City FC, or about the individual skill that Amy Rodriguez has brought to the team over the year, or even about how we actually traded her to Kansas City during pre-season. No. It was about how she had a baby last year, and therefore her being the lynch-pin to a successful team was completely shocking. Yes, Amy had a kid last year. and yes, that she is SO damn good, even after her body went through so much during that pregnancy, is downright amazing. But Amy has been good the entire season. She scored 13 goals during the regular season, second in the league only to Kim Little. She was 2nd in shots and shots on goal only to Portland’s Christine Sinclair. Her team came in 2nd in the league for regular season, and if her team wasn’t favorites to win the cup, that was only because of the amazing Cinderella-style comeback that saw the 2013 Seattle Reign come in 7th of 8th, and the 2014 Seattle Reign win the league with 16 wins, to KC’s number 2 ranked 12.
So many good things to say about Amy Rodriguez, so many amazing accomplishments to talk about, but somehow, the only thing that is important is that she had a baby. Because if women are too dumb to understand fantasy football rankings, they’re also too weak and infirm after giving birth to ever achieve anything, themselves, again.
I don’t know, I don’t see it, but then, I’m only a woman. I definitely don’t understand football, how to be a human and a parent, or the concept of not talking down to the very people you’re trying to write for.
We don’t need a separate but equal sports page that talks to us like all we care about is boys, our children, and makes sure to include lots of pictures and very few words so we don’t get confused. We don’t need people telling us how to balance our home and work life, or when or if we’re allowed to have children, and shaming us either way. We don’t need ANY of this. We are people, just like men are, with fully functioning brains, and the ability to make choices about the things we like, and to digest information on those topics with as much skill as a male brain. We don’t need you to dumb it down for us.
I don’t know why I thought ESPN would understand that, but I had hoped. 45% of NFL fans are women. Somewhere around a third of their target audience of sports fans is female. You’d think they could do better. Please do better, ESPN, because this is ridiculous.