The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced a new program Thursday geared towards women dubbed “RED”.
The announcement sent many female fans across the country into a tizzy claiming the program is sexist.
From the Buccaneers’ website:
RED will provide female Buccaneers fans with year-round educational experiences focused on providing a better understanding of the game, along with unprecedented access to their favorite team. In addition, RED will re-invent the female fan experience by providing insight into topics such as: what goes on behind the scenes on gamedays at Raymond James Stadium; how to maximize their gameday experience; how to blend personal Buccaneer pride with the latest NFL fashions; as well as tips on sharing their experiences and ideas via social media platforms such as Pinterest.
RED members will also have access to exclusive networking events throughout the year designed to encourage interaction while providing practical advice on how to express their love for the Bucs into original design projects, fashion-forward team apparel and creative culinary creations.
The portion of the RED program that seemed to anger most fans was a video explaining what a play clock is. While instructional videos can be a positive thing, this particular video is the only one currently listed on the program and insinuates women can only be fans if the game is dummied-down for them.
Many diehard fans across the country, male and female alike, were angry about the program’s focus.
But guess what: You’re not the demographic the Buccaneers are targeting.
Whether you’re a casual or diehard fan, everyone enjoys football and the surrounding culture differently.
I have friends (male and female) who have been season ticket holders for years, attend every home game and couldn’t tell you what a two-point conversion is. I have friends who buy a ticket to a game only to socialize with their friends and look up occasionally to check out the score.
And I know many diehard football fans, myself included, love tailgating, cooking and fanicures. (Yes, fanicures. Get over it.) That doesn’t make me any less of a fan than those who scoff at the idea of a woman enjoying something usually female-centric.
But with that said, teams can do more to cater to a wider demographic of football fans.
For those few NFL teams that have an official women’s club, Football 101 programs are nothing new. But that’s not all they provide. There are training camp events, community service opportunities, film study, football practice drills instructed by coaching staffs and even yoga on the field.
While NFL teams could invite men to these events, it’s not necessarily needed because it’s rather nice to be surrounded by like-minded female fans, no matter their knowledge of the game.
I once covered a Ravens "Purple" event. Women rans drills on the field. Players and coaches talked schematics. No mimosas or fanicures.
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) August 6, 2015
How dare you besmirch mimosas and fanicures.
Let’s not forget, the primary reason Football 101 programs exist is because for a very long time, the NFL wasn’t inclusive to women. Hell, they didn’t even start making jerseys in a female cut more than five years ago. The constant joke among guys was, “Don’t watch the game with your girl because she’ll bug you with dumb questions about what a touchdown is.” DURR.
That’s why books, events and special programs were created to help women to understand the game. And if free mimosas and fanicures are the olive branch, I’ll take one of each and say thanks.
But as the NFL’s female fan demographic continues to rise and evolve, they also need to recognize the need for a variety of programs that target multiple demographics and both genders.
Quite honestly they need to set some of these up for some of their male fans as well. Im just saying. https://t.co/hNxQ9RzZ14
— Stephen White (@sgw94) August 6, 2015
I'm all in favor of "beginner clubs" for fans new to the game. By why the need for gender segregation?
— Melissa Jacobs (@thefootballgirl) August 6, 2015
What’s wrong with gender segregation? Ever have a girls night out? GENDER SEGREGATION.
The point of these programs is to help me meet fellow women who are like-minded about wanting to get more into football. They may be a lot less or a lot more knowledgeable, passionate, etc… but it’s a different environment when you start throwing dudes into the mix.
Always wish teams creating programs for women would put less emphasis on "education" and more on chance to meet other passionate female fans
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 6, 2015
And what’s wrong with emphasizing education? When you market the educational aspect of it, you attract a different type of woman — the type of woman who would be interested in learning and investing more deeply in the team.
Listen, I’m not saying it’s perfect. The Buccaneers swung and missed with the debut of RED to a certain demographic. But let’s recognize the need for more programs that could help fans (especially female fans) become more engaged with their favorite team.
Because as we said earlier, only a select few NFL teams have an official club for women. And I’m sure many fans would love the opportunity to attend half of what the Buccaneers are offering, if only their team would provide it.