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The League of Ladies: Women and Fantasy Football

Posted on 13 October 2017 by sam

When you see commercials promoting fantasy football leagues, what do they have in common? Well, there’s plenty of beer and bar food. Most of the people are wearing jerseys in support of their favorite team. There’s probably a lot of cheering.

And what else? Oh yes. Men. Lots and lots of men.

The world presented by corporate advertising doesn’t always bear much of a resembles to reality, though. The truth is, there are a ton of women who like sports and are interested in things like fantasy football. And it’s not because they think the players on the field are hot.

Women can appreciate sports just like anyone else. You don’t need to have a Y chromosome to be awed by the way Aaron Rodgers throws a Hail Mary. You don’t need to be male to get excited for the playoffs because of the play on the field rather than the nachos on the food table (although nachos are also pretty great).

Sure, there’s some truth to the notion that women are more likely to follow Olympic sports like swimming and gymnastics, but that’s far from the whole story. According to numbers from Athletic Business, which bills itself as a resource for sports and fitness professionals, female viewership of the NFL shot up twenty-six percent from 2009 to 2013. The NFL itself says women make up forty-five percent of the fan base as of 2017. The NFL has even held Breast Cancer Awareness months in an effort to attract more female viewership. Such efforts may not be doing as much as they could for actual breast cancer charities, but it’s a sign of how much the NFL is trying to appeal to women.

So next time you see a woman wearing a ring, know that it might not mean she’s engaged or married. It could mean she and her friends got together and decided to purchase fantasy football rings for the top finishers in their fantasy league. Fantasy football has exploded in popularity in the past few years, and it’s only natural that women would be a big part of that surge.

Think of TV broadcasts of professional football games. When the cameras pan to members of the crowd, there are plenty of men and women in the mix. Women may be more fond of glitter face paint than their male counterparts, but there’s no rule that says they have to be. There’s a stereotype of female sports fans that insists they’re only interested in their sport of choice for shallow reasons. That’s no more true of women than it is of men. People like sports for all sorts of reasons. No reason is inherently better than the others, unless your reason is “I like to see traumatic brain injuries.” Because honestly, that’s a pretty horrifying reason.

So if February rolls around and a female friend of yours says she’s heading to the airport for a flight to Minneapolis, don’t assume she’s visiting the Mall of America. There’s also a pretty big football game happening around that time, and she just might have been lucky enough to score tickets.