Women are FED UP with the NFL. This is according to the ten women that Yahoo Sports interviewed recently for their ”Women In Football” series. Many women are serious NFL fans, but their enthusiasm is definitely waning in light of the team’s stance (or should we say lack of stance) on the anthem.
The NFL really needs to cater to their female fans, who make up a whopping 45 percent of their fan base. The league definitely wants more female fans but they’re not doing so great attracting these ladies to the sport.
What has women all up in arms about the NFL?
Yahoo interviewed 10 women who ranged in age from 21 to 55 and were selected from fans of teams ranging from west coast teams like Los Angeles to east coast teams like the Patriots, and several teams in flyover states as well.
As it turns out, women focus on real social justice issues. One of their major concerns is how the NFL has handled the issue of domestic violence incidents among their players. The Ray Rice situation in 2014 was a huge issue with women.
It was abundantly clear then that the NFL had a big problem. Women were definitely tuning in to see whether the NFL would hold its players accountable for beating their wives and girlfriends. We all remember the footage of Rice punching then-girlfriend (now wife) Janay hard in the face then dragging her by the shoulders out of the elevator.
The NFL made light of the situation, but then the video surfaced, and only then did the NFL take action against Rice. Fans later found out the NFL had possession of the video, and all hell broke loose. Women say that with that snafu, the NFL alienated a huge portion of the female fan base and they’ve been struggling to catch up ever since.
While they’ve done public service announcements and have now actually started holding players accountable, the ladies still want more action in this area. For some of the ten ladies, the NFL’s handling of Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault charges was particularly difficult because the NFL had appeared to not have learned their lesson. Bleacher Report stated that Roethlisberger seems to have nine lives when it comes to his bad boy behavior—behavior that would have earned lesser men definite prison time.
“I think these problems have been happening for years and years and now there’s the realization that women are a huge part of the fan base and they’re spending money, and as their children play football, women are a huge part of that decision,” said one of the interviewees.
Women also criticize the NFL for not recognizing the issues of concussions, traumatic brain injury and CTE much, much sooner than they did. A CNN report from this summer says CTE was found in 99% of deceased players autopsied. One woman said she learned about how prevalent and severe CTE was by watching the movie Concussion, and is disappointed that information didn’t first come from the NFL.
Others said that the NFL is singularly driven by the almighty dollar and doesn’t care about concussions or long term health implications of their players at all. The ladies say the movie forced the NFL to take ownership of the issue and have transparency.
Some are wondering why the NFL continues to lie to the American public, a feat they say is impossible in today’s world of social media and 24/7 news. The conclusion here is that the NFL has a whole lot more work to do on the CTE issue, particularly in letting players know what is in store for their health in the future.
In summary, the ladies think the NFL cares about ratings but not so much about them as individuals. The gals said that the NFL has to care to some extent, but the league’s responses to women seem reactive rather than proactive. The NFL definitely is giving these ladies the perception that they care much more about the money than any pressing issues their female fans might have or want the league to address.
These gals seem to have their priorities straight, caring much more about social responsibility than social justice. As one woman put it, “I always feel like there’s a social responsibility for corporations – you can see these days in the news, topics about diversity, inclusion, women, minorities, environment, sustainability, all these things that are social issues these days. I don’t see that coming a lot from the NFL.”
With players kneeling, ticket sales dramatically decreasing and advertisers dropping like flies, the NFL certainly doesn’t need to borrow more trouble by alienating its female fan base.