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What is the ‘female sports fan’? espnW attempts to define.

posted by Same Size Balls
Monday, December 6, 2010 at 10:49pm EST

Same Size Balls is about exploring issues facing the quest for equality in women's sports. Ever wonder why men's and women's basketballs are a different size? Why women can't play five sets in tennis, check in hockey, or play physical in lacrosse? I do, too.

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espnW is a destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes. We hope you find it surprising, informative and inspiring, because we created it just for you. We welcome your thoughts.

espnW has materialized.

Even before its official inception, espnW was, for some, a contentious concept, and maybe still is. It was for myself.

But maybe the harsh reactions were premature; maybe detractors shouldn’t have doubted the marketing efforts and research of the espnW team. The site has legitimate sports coverage–not the yoga and fashion some were perhaps expecting. Right now, it looks exactly as its intentions were proposed: a site to reach female sports fans. But the question all along has been, what does that mean?

I can’t seem to find where I fit in. There is a wide-range of articles about the NCAA women’s soccer final, BCS opinion, the death of Ron Santo, attending the Winter Meetings, along with thoughts about the direction of the WNBA post-Orender and mainstream professional male sports stories. But I can find stories about women’s sports and mainstream sports elsewhere–so why espnW? Is espnW not for me, as I originally suspected, as a sports journalist who thinks and absorbs sports on a different level than a casual fan?

Is the market narrow enough as the blog stands now? That’s quite a range of topics.

Is espnW espnW because it comes from a female perspective? Well, maybe, but there are many women sports writers. Is espnW espnW because it is written to a female audience? I would guess that that is the difference from espn.com (which espnW links to frequently) and other sports outlets. Perhaps the female-audience-factor is at work in the site’s content and that is the fundamental difference between espnW and other women’s sports coverage. There has not been enough time or content to see if there are differences in the direction and style of sports writing.

But how does it define a female sports audience? When the concept first arose, the words “holistic” and “pedicures” were involved–glad to see that has not been evident on the launch of the site. But if it’s not just about women’s sports and if it’s not just about women writers, then it must be about the way espnW figures the female sports fan tends to ingest sports.

So, what, then, even is the female sports fan? That is espnW’s mission. I’m not sure it is me, unless being a female sports fan refers to enjoying and following women’s sports, which I do. Or is a female sports fan someone who wears a Tony Romo jersey and watches football on Sunday with friends? Is the female sports fan someone who follows fashion in exercise attire and participates in pilates and gets pedicures?

Does espnW even know yet?

So far, the writers and content seem promising; but it is too soon to tell about how espnW will choose to reach and address the now-infamous female sports fan. From the beginning, I have proposed a strong emphasis on women’s sports; but they may have other ideas that will develop in time, as well.


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