Late last week, NASL team Miami FC tweeted a video promoting their home opener for this past Saturday. The video showed two women, who Miami FC used to encourage their followers to “join these babes on Saturday!” Gaby Kirschner, a contributor to Howler Magazine, responded to the tweet in her article Bleachers Full of Women: Are American clubs Treating Women as Fans or Products? Kirschner questions what Miami FC is selling.
So what are Miami FC and other professional soccer clubs in the U.S. trying to sell, and why is it a point of contention? Here are a few points that arise from these questions:
- Who exactly are teams marketing to? Who is their audience?
- Using women as a marketing tool isolates half of the potential fan market of a team
- Using women to market sports teams alludes to stereotypes that women don’t enjoy sports or are just there to impress men
- Just as Kirschner states:
“The trope that women only like sports to impress men or because they find the players attractive is the oldest one in the book.”
A fellow female Fire fan, Carmen Norgaard, makes valid points on Kirschner’s article in a private Facebook group discussion:
Kirschner and Norgaard both make compelling arguments. I agree that using women as a marketing tool like Miami FC did leads to a misconception of women in sport. It implies that women are not passionate sports fans. It may also imply that women merely attend to impress men. On another spectrum, this could also lead to the misconception that men need to be lured into sports by “babes”.
From my experience as a soccer fan, when I see women used to promote the game such as the women in the Miami FC tweet, Columbus Crewzers, or the woman pictured to the right, it takes away from my own credibility as a knowledgeable, passionate supporter of the game. Using women as a marketing tool, makes female fans have to work harder to prove their worth as a fan. This is frustrating, as we shouldn’t have to prove our dedication of sport to others.
Similarly, Kirschner closes her article by stating, “But this brings women one step farther away from being viewed as just fans. They used to be there just to watch men, and now they are there to be watched by men.”
In the end, this delusion of women in sport needs to be abolished. When do we start?