Tag Archive | ESPN

Random Thoughts: The Fall Edition

Since I am trying to write a blog post each day this month, it seemed like a good time to do another one on the various random thoughts that go through my head. Nothing in particular other than just the randomness that occurs when I am working out, running, or getting annoyed at work because there are too many chatty men around causing me to be unable to think.

img_0422.jpgSo without further ado, here are some random thoughts: Continue reading

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.

So many things

Wow, it has been a busy 24 hours with my White Sox. First there were the comments from Mark Buehrle on the end of this coming season and what he might do after next season. Then, Paul Konerko held a mini presser with media before tonight’s game to discuss his impending free agency. On top of that, ESPN has announced it is coming out with a station for WOMEN. I have so many thoughts on these issues and if I write about them all, it would be one really long post. So, for now, I will give you a taste of my opinions on these things with much more in-depth though in later posts coming this weekend. (because i really am trying to keep up with the blogging and start doing it regularly).

On Buehrle: I don’t begrudge him contemplating retirement, but I did hear some stuff on sports talk radio that he was being a whiny guy for walking away from it if he does given how the economy is right now for a lot of working people.  That was an interesting debate to listen to and frankly those who “don’t want to hear it” from Buehrle, I can see where they may get that from, but I think their irritation is misplaced. Particularly given some of the reasons that Buehrle has given as to why he could potentially hang it up after his current contract ends.

On the Beloved Paul Konerko:  He is such a classy guy on the field and seems that way off the field.  I won’t go so far as to say he is, because 1) i don’t know him and 2) i don’t want to live in a fantasy totally in believing he is a great guy when he just might not be and hides it well.  Please don’t misunderstand that I am slamming him because I LOVE Paul Konerko, the first baseman for the White Sox for the past dozen years.  I just have to be realistic about how a guy may be off the field and how I am not privy to how he may behave otherwise.  His comments on pending free agency are understandable, especially given the fact that no one knows what direction the team is going and if he is indeed tired of the off the field drama that has occurred this season, I can’t blame him for wanting to go to an organization that doesn’t have those issues.  If he chooses to not come back to the White Sox, I would be sad, but completely understand.  I am so thankful for his years of service and the entertainment he has provided me since he has been a member of this team.

On ESPN Women:  Dear 4-letter network buffoons:  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?  Are you now implying that women aren’t smart enough to watch your regular networks?  Are you implying that you need to have a channel focusing on women so you can show stupid commercials, pink up the viewing, etc. to get women to watch?  Am I not allowed to watch your regular stuff and understand?  This has got to be the dumbest idea ever.  I suppose I could “give” it a shot, but really I am just feeling insulted that somehow I need to have my sports catered to me, in the same way that clothing manufacturers figure that if they make my favorite teams’ attire in pink, I will happily buy & wear it.  Never mind that 1) my team’s colors are NOT pink and 2) I want to wear my team colors in flattering sizing!

Those are my very brief initial thoughts on the day’s news that struck me.  In the next couple of days, I will have much longer posts on each of these things and hopefully, I can reconcile my feelings with what has been said and discussed.