By Amanda Lewis
One of the main problems with sports in general is that it is associated with being a “thing for men”, but that is simply not true. Women are allowed to, and do, like sports just as much as the next guy. The problem is, sports companies and online social communities don’t have as many outlets where women can express their love for sports like men do.
Sports scholars have concluded that the masculine domain of sports has reinforced the traditional social hierarchy. In 2011, Sports Illustrated created a campaign called “NHL Puck Bunnies” which they thought would incorporate their female fan base to their typically male-dominated magazine. However, this campaign received a lot of backlash claiming that the term “puck bunnies” is normally used as an insult when men are “politely” telling women they aren’t real sports fans.
Since the Sports Illustrated backlash, companies are now trying to figure out a way to incorporate their women fans and athletes in a way that isn’t so demeaning. For example, Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign explores that men and women aren’t so different when it comes to why they enjoy sports. The campaign identifies that both men and women have a passion for hard work and the underdog mentality which motivates them to be both athletes and fans.
Since the sports world is still predominantly male, women have yet to find a place where they can talk about sports without being labeled and stereotyped, until now. Two women, Ashley Wellington-Fahey and Erica Boeke, have co-founded a website called The Relish, where women can talk about sports freely with no judgement. This website allows women to openly express themselves about their love of sports without being stereotyped.
Women have made some progress in the online sports community, but it still has some room for improvements. Companies are now making a conscious effort in marketing for both men and women, without gender stereotyping and websites like The Relish are allowing women to be more involved in the world of sports without having people putting them down.