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There was an interesting dialogue on The Atlantic‘s website this week between contributors Alyssa Rosenberg and Hampton Stevens, which began with Rosenberg discussing the difficulties of being a female sports fan.
She rightfully takes issue with the misogynistic streak that seems to run through sports stadiums and sports media, that not only leaves female sports fans like herself feeling unwelcome, but (occasionally) unsafe.
Stevens chalks that up something inherent in guy culture: Dudes are violent and ugly and like to insult each other and sports are the best place to let that out. Hostility (to everyone, not just women) is part of the game.
That may be how it is for a lot (or most) fans, but does that mean it should be? Women shouldn’t be locked out because they don’t want to play along with the worst elements — there are plenty of women who do play along and are just as boorish as the guys. (I don’t want to watch sports with either of them.)
Rosenberg is right that sports are best when everyone has a seat at the stadium, and no one way of watching and enjoying the game should be prized more than others. Trash talk is one thing: tackling children in the parking lot is another.
There’s enough hostility between us all in the real world that there’s no reason to carry it over to our games. Those are supposed to bring us together, remember?
The problem to me doesn’t seem to be sports: It’s men who don’t know how to behave around women … in any situation. They’re intimidated by ladies all the time. They don’t want to feel like they have to impress them even when watching the game with their boys.
Maybe the best (and worst) thing about sports is that it reveals everyone as they truly are, not how they want to be seen. As anyone a Super Bowl party tonight could tell you … it makes it really hard to pick up chicks that way….
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