After the NFL regular season ended, we started collecting data on the role of the woman within all aspects of the NFL. In this series we are going to explore the many varieties that make up the female NFL fan. In this first article, we cover the remarkably low number of women in a leadership role among NFL teams and if that will have a negative effect on the fastest growing fan segment.
Most fans across both genders are well aware that legitimate female fans exist within the NFL fanbase. But with the percentage of that female fanbase reaching an all time high at 45%, it can probably be assumed that this number will only grow.
But it won’t come from the front offices of teams across the NFL.
Among NFL front offices, five teams have zero female Executives and/or Directors. And an additional 9 teams employ just one woman serving in a leadership role within the organization.
While the NFL has slowly increased its efforts to appeal to the female fanbase by doing things like creating merchandise that’s less pink and and establishing women’s fan clubs in 6 NFL cities with more on the way, it’s just not happening fast enough.
And that reason could be the lack of female leadership in almost every NFL city across the country.
There is not a single CEO, COO or CIO that is female and only one listed as President within the 64 women executives/directors league wide.
While there are two women titled with CFO, the over-whelming majority, 43%, of all female executives and directors are in the marketing, sales and community outreach fields.
Which is where things just don’t add up. Every team is so different in how they handle (what should be) an easy market to exploit for more sales.
Take the Seattle Seahawks organization for example. They have 9 (NINE!) female executives and directors. But they don’t have a official team female fan club?
On the other hand, the Ravens, Redskins and Broncos are three of six teams to have an official team fan clubs specifically for women; filled with social hours, rules 101/102, discounts on clothing etc….with only one of those teams (the Ravens) having just one female Executive/Director between them.
While the majority of the NFL front offices remain a sausage fest, there exists a group of women who hold the most power in the NFL among teams…
- appears to be the highest ranking exec on any NFL team that isn’t in line for ownership of the team (Colts). She is listed as Executive Vice President / VP of Brand Management / President of Charity Foundation and is said to have her say in everything from managing Super Bowls to ensuring the proper type of concrete used at Cowboys Stadium.
- Katie Blackburn (Bengals) and Dawn Aponte (Dolphins) both are responsible for negotiation those high-powered player contracts.
- The Colts the highest amount of high ranking executives in the NFL with two out of three having the word “Irsay” in their last name with Carlie and Kalen who both serve as Vice Chair/Owner. Kalen is also president of the Indianapolis Colts Women’s Organization and has represented the team at NFL Owner’s Meetings.
- The other Colts sister is fellow Vice Chair/Owner. While she is an Irsay by birth, she is actually the one responsible for “revitalizing the Colts Women’s Organization and planned the group’s first major fundraising in 2007”.
It seems the only team in the entire league with women serving both a leadership role and enthusiastically supporting their women fans is the Colts organization.
Every other team is just puzzled as to what to do, doesn’t want to foot the budget/time/effort or it could be as simple as the “higher up’s” ignoring the marketing/sales department suggestions.
The NFL should be wary about this however. They were sloppy and slow entering the clothing/merchandise race allowing for competition that effectively beats them continuously on pricing/fashion. Without reaching out to women fans, either by the women in front offices or employing someone specifically targeted to that market, the NFL could be losing out on even more profits in the years to come.
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Teams with ZERO Women in Leadership Roles
Raiders (have Kalie Pagel listed in Football operations but no title given)
Teams With at Least One Female Executive/Director
Teams With Two Female Executives/Directors
Teams With Three Female Executives/Directors
Teams With Four Female Executives/Directors