And I thought I was just good for buying pink jerseys...
Turns out the NFL is looking to keep me and other women interested in the NFL. Apparently, about 40% of the viewing audience is female and those gals want to be catered to without being treated differently.
There are a few things the NFL can do to further the cause.
1. Involve women meaningfully in the broadcasts and other marketing of the sport.
Everyone wants to see themselves represented in what they're watching. So put some women in the booth or at the desk for goodness sakes. There is talent available right now. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is so reason for talent like Suzy Kolber and Pam Oliver to be relegated to the sidelines. I have nothing against sideline reporters, weather girls or cheerleaders, but there shouldn't be a "dome ceiling" when they'll let any washed up athlete who can string a sentence together learn on the job.
2. Give us a little eye candy.
If the NFL is going to shamelessly stick their cameras up cheerleader's skirts, then they can make sure the women have a little something to look at too. I don't want a bunch of Tony Reali clones, but this can range from just making sure the male on-air talent looks their best all the way to giving the ladies a few shots of the guns and some close-ups of the handsome guys.
3. Encourage girls to play football.
Girls like Holly Mangold may be an anomaly right now, but it won't last. Girls are going to start playing football, whether the NFL gets on board or not. Michelle Wie is already trying to force the issue in golf. It's going to happen to the other sports. At a minimum, an excellent female athlete is interchangeable for an average male athlete.
Baseball. With the development of fast pitch softball, a lot more girls are going to be developing skills that are transferable to baseball. What position on the diamond couldn't a woman perform? Maybe females will never have the arm to be the best outfield player or hit 50 homers in a season, but all the other roles in the dugout are fair game.
Basketball. Those WNBA girls are going to get tired of making $50K a year when they could be getting boy money. No female will likely ever be Shaq, but, if she could withstand the certain groping, why couldn't a female develop into a Ray Allen type superstar?
The ladies have shown that they can take a little violence. There are already female boxers. The WWE embraces female wrestlers to the full extent of the woman's ability. They even let the girls fight the boys.
And it's going to happen to football too. There are several positions that women could potentially play on the field. There are already quite a few high school kickers, there have even been Division 1 female kickers and female tackle leagues are growing. Real soon, a girl is going to show up at the combine ready to put Mike Vanderjagt's cocky ass in check. And who knows? Maybe a glimpse of flaxen blond hair peeking out from underneath a helmet and the torture of knowing some choice C cups are being unfairly restrained underneath an authentic Reebok NFL jersey could melt Bill Parcell's cold, cold heart toward kickers.
But, really, one of the positions that immediately come to mind that could be especially suitable for a woman is the position of quarterback. Quarterback is largely a mental/management position, especially with the league bending over backwards to minimize QB contact. A woman may never have the speed and explosiveness of Michael Vick or the long arm of Brett Favre. But if you ask a woman to sit in the pocket and make good decisions throughout the game? No problem. Women could excel at being so-called "competent" quarterbacks. There are other positions that a women could be successful at. Football players generally aren't that big, therefore women aren't automatically excluded on their inherent physicality. A woman could be a receiver, a cornerback, or any position where the woman would be the tackler or the occasional tacklee (is that a word?). But if Holly Mangold wants to be a lineman, it's her prerogative.
Sports is one of the ultimate meritocracies in this country. If the ladies get it in their mind to make it happen, it will happen. If a girl shows up that can do the job, an organization is going to bite. It may not happen next year or even 5 years from now, but it will happen. The ultimate goal in sports is to win, not to exclude. It's the NFL's choice whether they want to be on board from the outset. (And they will sell a lot more copies of Madden video games. I'm not ashamed to admit I am restricted in my ability to succeed at that game because I've never played the game. Goddamn X's and O's....)
So, if the NFL is really interested in the gentler sex, that's my take. And, oh yeah, keep selling those pink jerseys.