Only Two Things - The Elusive Female Sports Fan
The LPGA is preparing to tee off tomorrow at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club northwest of Portland OR and the mood is cautiously optimistic.
The Safeway Classic is the tour's longest-running non-major event, and one player's particularly enjoy for what they describe as "a family atmosphere, of long-established friendships and warm relationships with sponsors and organizers". Then of course, there are the fans. Last year's event drew a record 87,800 of them. Which is great.
Despite recent challenges, the LPGA remains the most successful professional sports organization for women and as efforts continue to rebuild a parred-down schedule, first-year commissioner Mike Whan has expressed his confidence that there will be more events 2011 than in 2010.
But what about the LPGA and female fans? According to ESPN, 70% to 75% of an average sports audience is male. For women's sports, it doesn't really change: 60% to 70% of the audience is still male. Having attended several LPGA tournaments this year, I can vouch for the fact that the number of females in the galleries is consistently lower than the number of males, and quite substantially so. 30 - 40 percent seems about right to me ...and I'd imagine television viewership more-or-less mirrors those figures. The LPGA, like the WNBA and the WPS, could definitely use a little more support from the ladies.
In fact, one of the few major sports where women make up a majority of the viewers is women's figure skating. It's a sport that involves extraordinary talent, skill and athleticism... and also features sequins, feathers, pantyhose and make-up. Coincidence?
The question is: Why, almost three decades after the passage of title IX, is there still such female fan deficit especially in women's sport?
Does it come down to societal roles and culturally imposed preferences? Is it because women aren't treated like athletes and shown in prime time? ~ I've often opined that women simply have much more competing for their attention than men do. Then there are some who claim that the skill level of women's sports is not as high. ~ Oh, and what about the immense interest generated when women compete against men as Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie have... what does say about gender and sports fans?
That's what we'll be talking about tonight on "Only Two Things". We'll be broadcasting from 9:30 - 10:30PM ET. And you can weigh in on-air by using call-in number 917-889-9592. Or join the conversation in the chat room or on Twitter... or just listen at BlogTalkRadio. Talk to you tonight.