Now that espnW has been up for a few weeks, I thought I would revisit the issue of a landing spot for women who enjoy sports to look at. As I stated in my original post on this, I was at first skeptical about how this would work and was worried that it would be an attempt to pink up sports and possibly further push sports-loving women into a box and possibly further separate women’s sports from men’s sports rather than just being another topic of the general sports conversation.
The site officially launched on December 6, 2010 and as soon as it did, I quickly went to go check it out. Upon first perusal, I was excited about it. I saw that two writers whose work I already follow were contributors to the site, Amanda Rykoff and Sarah Spain, both of whom I follow on Twitter. In addition to seeing those two writers, I also saw some other female writers whose articles I will occasionally read. This was exciting because it meant, for me at least, it wasn’t going to be a site that seemed to pander to women and would just talk about the sports in yet another forum for the sports obsessed.
Some of the things I like about the site include most of the writers because I think they are good writers. I am also impressed that there is no pink to be found. I know in general that is a bit of a lame thing to notice, but when this concept was first talked about, this was a HUGE fear of sports loving women — that the site would pink things up to attract more women. I also enjoy that I get to see a few more of those behind the story types of posts about sports. It is nice to have a place where a lot of this information is so I don’t have to go hunting for it like I normally would. I also appreciate that there is coverage about sports from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY and not a New York / Boston focus, which is a problem I see with ESPN in general.
Sadly, after reading stuff, I am coming to the realization that I am not the demographic that this site appears to be aiming for. I already love sports. I already seek out more information about my favorite players, teams, sports. A lot of the stories that I am seeing on the site are what i refer to as “behind the scenes” types of stories. These are things such as the dad who sent a letter saying a girl shouldn’t be on the hockey team because she wasn’t good enough or the story about the chauvinist sports writer and his book signing. These are stories that I would seek out on my own if I found a snippet on the internet about them. Having then in one place is nice. But that kind of sports reporting to me seems to be more of the type that my non-sports loving female friends might enjoy. They are also the same ones who find the olympics more enjoyable because in addition to seeing a sport, they get all the “heart-wrenching and heart-warming” stories of triumph” that sports can tell.
I do hope this succeeds because I think sports can be such a valuable thing, aside from entertainment value. If this site can bring in more women to watching sports, great. However, it would be nice to also cater a bit to ladies who are already into sports. Right now, it seems there is a focus on bringing in a new audience at the exclusion of an already existing one. I still stand behind my original ideas that the mother-ship ESPN can do some things on its other brands to further engage women without resorting to putting up a website that specifically caters to women. I love the idea of women writers who are out there engaging in sports and even at times schooling the boys on “their” sports. Therefore, I am all for more women writing about sports and engaging fans, both male and female. Ultimately, I just want a place where women writing about sports is just as respected as the boys writing about it and that coverage of women’s sports is just ANOTHER PART OF THE SPORTS CONVERSATION and not a special “oh, let’s talk about this amazing feat by ___ women’s ____ team” because as I have said before, as women we may not play sports in the same way, but we sure can talk about them with the same passion men do.