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Hey NFL, Don't Patronize Female Football Fans

 by Ruth Schneider   Posted on November 3 2013

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Dear NFL,

I spotted your recent 16-page advertising insert, "A Savvy Girl's Guide to Football," in the recent issue of Marie Claire, and I commend your efforts to reach out to a broader audience.

It's true that 46% of your 2012 Super Bowl audience was female -- a huge increase from the 14% who watched the big game in 2002. Last season, 80 million women watched football games on TV and 310,000 attended in person, according to Forbes magazine.

We are fans of the game.

But, let me be clear about this, pink jerseys studded with rhinestones do not appeal to me. My fianc?, the hardcore fan in our relationship, practically hit the ceiling after seeing a Green Bay Packers lace-corset jersey. And the rhinestones. Don't even get her started on the rhinestones. She started ranting something about "there's no rhinestones in football" and not wanting to look like a cheerleader.

While this is clearly a step away from the overly femme "pink-it-and-shrink-it" scheme you guys in the NFL came up with a few years ago, there's still room for improvement.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for pink NFL gear -- October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Plenty of players sported pink socks during the games. Plus, donating a portion of the proceeds of the sales of the pink jerseys toward breast cancer research is great. But let's not go overboard with the girlie stuff. There are plenty of female fans who prefer to stay clear of the frou-frou glitter and rhinestones.

Alyssa Milano's line of clothing, Touch, is a step in the right direction. It's fashion-forward, it's trendy and it's not super-revealing. (I watch a lot of Project Runway.)

And if you truly want to appeal to women, open the NFL up to us. There is a clear gender barrier here -- so much so that some people refer to the NFL as the "No Female League." That's an obvious sign of a problem.

What we want to see is ourselves represented on the field. For the first time in NFL history, a woman tried out as a kicker earlier this year. And Sarah Thomas could be the first female referee in 2014. (There was a woman who worked as a replacement referee during the 2012-13 season, but she was never hired on by the NFL.)

Those are far better methods for attracting our continued business than giving us more ways to bare our cleavage. Don't you think?

Thanks for your time,


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