A Profound Sadness

Lately, I have been feeling restless and a bit lost in what I want to do with myself. Work is not exactly what I want to be doing, though it pays the bills and keeps me off the dole. Fortunately, baseball season has beginning so I have that to look forward to as well as perk me up. Speaking of sports, recently there have been some things happening that are making a lot of female sports fans and women in general feel lesser and marginalized by our society.

Earlier in the year, MLB sponsored a contest to find the ultimate fan. This person would be in a decked out place and watch all 2,000+ games this baseball season. As part of this, the winner would write a blog about the experience as well as use social media to talk and promote it. The winner was announced and it turns out to be two guys who have on-stage and acting experience. This is all fine and dandy. At first I thought, ok cool for them. Then as more details emerged, it started to make me sad. Continue reading

New Adventures

So . . . for the past month or so, I have been sitting on big news for me and I have been DYING to talk about it.  Well, I finally can and my big news is that is that I am going to be joining the network of blogs!!!  You can read more about it here, from founder Julie DiCaro. I am really excited to be doing this and I will be covering none other than the White Sox!  I hope you all get a chance to check it out once we launch on February 1, 2011.  Rest assured, I will continue to post things here, such as the long awaited post on sports learnin’ that I have been meaning to get around to.  And who knows, I might even get my fangirl hat on and go to SoxFest 2011 this year.  We shall see.

This is a really cool thing for me because of the purpose behind it, and to be included in the 30 women so far who will be writing about sports is amazing.  I can’t wait for you to read their work in addition to what I have been writing.

In the mean time, keep reading things here and as things progress with G9, I will be sure to keep you updated on what is happening!  Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter for the latest happenings with a girl’s perspective and G9sports.

We are still looking for female writers who know their stuff to cover ALL the teams in NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.  And it is not just a midwest sports thing, so if you live on the coasts or know some fans of teams on the coasts, contact me so we can bring you on board.  We could really use some Red Sox and Yankee loving ladies (with baseball season fast approaching).  There will also be coverage of the various college teams as well.

Opposites Attract

I love sports.  They are dependable for ensuring that if I am having a crappy day, that watching a game, whether it is an old one or currently happening, I will be cheered up.  They rarely let me down in terms of knowing what is going to happen.  The thrill of finding out how the ending will occur is so much fun for me.  If I am let down by sports, it is usually because the team I am rooting for didn’t end up with my desired result.  Though, this disappointment doesn’t last long as I always look forward to seeing the next game.  Even if I am having the best day ever, sports just are icing on my fabulous cake for keeping the party going.

I will watch most any sports, but my favorites are about as opposite as one can get.  Fortunately, they are also in opposite times during the year, so that I am occupied with sports year-round without a break.  Some may find this strange because you should take a break from your loves just for sanity purposes, but for me, there is an inherent break given the sports I follow closely. 

Hockey and Baseball.  Fast, heart-pounding, brutal, ice, clock.  Those would be things that come to mind when I am thinking about hockey.  Slower, long grind, nine, grass, timeless.  Those are some of the words that come to mind for me when I think about baseball.  In almost every way, these two sports are opposite.  Both are team sports, except that baseball is deceptive in that while it is a team sport, it is more about the individual players coming together to do something.  Guys can still be superstars even if only one person is putting up stats while the rest of the team is just blah or in some cases, just bad at the game.  With hockey, sure, there are superstars, but every guy on that team needs to do his thing in order for the points to be put up on the scoreboard and the team to win.  Sure, at times a team will get a win that can and should be credited to a goalie who stood on his head, but for the most part, you need all the forwards, defensemen and the goalie to work in concert for things to equate to a win.

The biggest difference for me between the two is the speed of the game.  In hockey, you are up against a clock.  The guys are athletic and moving around on skates!  Things happen quickly and if you aren’t paying close attention, you can miss something in the blink of an eye.  When I watch hockey, it can be the most intense 60 minutes ever (spread out over about 2.5 hours).  If a guy with the puck gets a breakaway to the net and then shoots and JUST MISSES the goal or the goalie makes a great block, it is super intense, waiting for that score to happen.  I think it is probably more intense when it is a potential goal that the team you aren’t rooting for shoots.  When your team’s goalie makes a great stop, you will realize you were holding your breath waiting to see if the puck crosses the line.  In baseball, there is none of this type of heart-pounding stress.  You know you are in for at least 3 hours of time to sit back and relax while watching the game.  Sure, there are times when you will hold your breath — usually when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter or making a bid for a perfect game, but generally, guys get hits and you just want to make sure that the base runners don’t score.  Sometimes, the game can go really quickly if you get two pitchers who like to get the ball and throw it to the plate.  Those type of pitchers will not allow for batters to play games to mess with their rhythm.  Those are also games where no one is getting very far on the base path.  Honestly, I love those types of games because anytime there is a great pitching duel, sign me up.  I know a lot of baseball fans out there don’t care for them because they would like to see lots of home runs (and the ensuing fireworks that some parks will shoot off when a home run is hit).

The inherent heart-pounding with hockey is a great change for when it is not baseball season.  And conversely, the relaxed games of baseball are great to get away from the heart-pounding that is hockey.  Hockey is just intense and I love it.  The fact that you have guys going after each other and even the fights are just amazing.  Seeing those guys do that, it is a way to enjoy getting out aggression without being an angry person myself.  With baseball, it is just more relaxed in terms of being able to watch, but you don’t have to do it super closely to know what is happening.  Once in a while there will be a fight, but the whole team will get involved.  Personally, I like the way hockey goes about dealing with the aggression and hits.  Unfortunately in baseball, it doesn’t always happen. Especially if you happen to be watching an American League game where the pitchers don’t hit.

Overall, each sport has its own unique rhythm and beauty and watching to see what the beauty in each game is, is a wonderful thing.  Speed, athleticism and skill in each are all on display in different ways.  Every sport has its own rhythm and beauty, but for me, the beauty in hockey and baseball is the best kind of beauty to behold.  If you haven’t experienced the beauty, I’d encourage you to take a look and appreciate it for all its glory.

I just don’t fit the demographic

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.

A Female Focused Sports Network?

Yesterday, news broke that ESPN was going to be launching a new landing spot in conjunction with its main site that is focused on women. I first learned of it on Twitter and of course, at that time, all kinds of jokes started flying. Jokes made by both men and women.  I even saw one that said they instead of calling it ESPNW, they should call it LESPN.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out what was being referred to.

In any event, my initial reaction was why is ESPN suddenly being condescending toward women?  Why single us out and potentially “pink” up the network?  Were they saying suddenly that the regular ESPN wasn’t really where women should be watching sport?  So many questions I had and admittedly, a bit of anger because it seems a lot of times when people do this, there seems to be an implication that women just aren’t smart enough to “get” what is usually something highly male dominated and it needs to be “dumbed down” for women to understand and appreciate it.  However, after reading more about what was happening and the reasons behind it, I will hold off final judgment until I see things.

As a female sports fan of sports other than what is considered as appealing to women, such as figure skating, I think this could potentially be good to broaden sports appeal to women.  After all, anytime attention is brought to “the powers that be” that women ARE interested in sports, it is a good thing.  ESPN, to its credit did do some research to find out who was watching their shows and found that some of their lowest viewing by women was where they did studio shows.  The attempt with the ESPN Women blog and the hopefully eventually tv channel is to cater to the female demographic with the focus on hosts being female and having women give their perspectives on shows.

I can see how an ESPN Women could be beneficial though.  When they talk about that many women are not as passive in their engagement of watching sports as men are, I could see where trying to make it more interactive could help to get more women interested in sports.  And if well done, this could also be a learning tool to help women who know nothing about sports learn something so they can better enjoy it with boyfriends, husbands and friends who are sports fiends, but they don’t get it.  (will do a post later on how to “learn” about sports if you are late to the game).  However, personally I think that ESPN could do all of this without needing to resort to a separation.

The concept is all well and good, but what concerns me is whether there will be some sort of push to get female sports in a separate venue, rather than just part of the larger discussion of sports.  Additionally, it seems that the main network seems to have given up on making what the currently do more engaging for women to want to actually watch the network.  In all honestly, I rarely watch ESPN currently and it is NOT because I perceive some sort of slighting of women or the other things they found which prompted the network to try something to cater to women in general.  I don’t watch ESPN because I don’t live on the East Coast and I find it to be extremely East Coast biased in its coverage of sports or its favorite athlete of the moment (i.e., love fest over Brett Favre or LeBron James).  I know a lot of people, both men and women who feel this way.  I have nothing against the East Coast.  In fact, one of my favorite cities ever is Boston and NY is right up there in favorite places to visit.  I just feel as someone who lives in Chicago, I’d like to hear about my town’s teams from the national perspective as well when I watch shows that are supposed to be national in scope.  Ever since MLB Network debuted in 2009, I spend my sports tv coverage time watching that instead of the baseball shows on ESPN because I feel they do a far better job of covering the sport I love.  These networks, in my opinion cover ALL of the teams and not just the ones located in Boston or NY.  I do the same with NFL Network and NHL Network.

Currently, there are plenty of women who work for ESPN who are on air as hosts and reporters.  A few things I could think of to get women more engaged in the studio shows would be to have a WOMAN sitting in the “big chair” i.e. the host chair.  Currently on many of these shows, the woman is relegated to what appears as a token role where she is there to “look pretty” and only add snippets to the conversation had by the boys.  Sometimes the women are just used as a reporter to talk about a story and then it goes back to the boys talking and leading the conversations about sports.  Female sports fans have a lot to say and are more than capable of hosting a studio show and leading the discussion as the men typically do.  That kind of typical set up almost screams to me that the men don’t value the opinion that women have and therefore women can speak, but not really because they are not fully included in the discussions.  I and probably a lot of other women (maybe men? i can hope) would like to see women leading the discussions.  I think just that small little change would make it more of the interactivity that the research showed that women engage in more.  It has been difficult for women to break in to sports coverage (just look up some of the stuff that was said and written about Inez Sainz when she was in the Jets locker room), but I am hopeful that things will start to change where the guys who are doing the sports talking will see women as just another “guy” in the conversation rather than as a pretty woman or someone the men need to school in the fine art of sports discussions.  Just because we may not play them in the same manner that men do, doesn’t mean we can’t understand and appreciate them in the same manner and with the same passion that men do.