Watch out boys -- there's a new type of girl infiltrating your local sports pubs and athletic venues, and she wants to be taken seriously. In casual conversation she mentions the impressive stats of Washington Nationals rookie sensation Bryce Harper and then shows off her newest purchase from the designer sample sale at the mall. She drinks Budweiser while painting her toenails. She watches SportsCenter before the newest weekly episode of The Bachelorette. She embraces the sorority girl stereotype and proudly wears her campus intramural flag football champions t-shirt to class. She's me.
That's right. I'm a girl and I love sports. Long gone are the decades when women were expected to sit quietly in their perfectly pressed dresses while keeping their opinions to themselves. As a result of the evolution of this mid-20th century paradigm, women have garnered equality in virtually all facets of life, not just athletics. I take pride in the fact that I can bake a three tiered white chocolate birthday cake while verbally maligning the Falcons coaching staff for poor game clock management in the final minutes of a very important contest against our division rivals. I can join the conversation among male coworkers in the break room because I watched LeBron drop 60 points against the Magic the night before. I can build relationships with new friends, clients, and perfect strangers because I understand and appreciate the passion they have for their local teams and heroes. Besides this passion being a fundamental part of my soul, I see the relatibility that a working knowledge of the sports world brings me in both my personal and professional life, and many other women are embracing this dichotomy too.
The reality is that women today have an incredible opportunity to slowly turn what was known only a couple of decades ago as a "good ol' boys' club" of sports business into a very gender balanced industry. Women are climbing the ranks to executive level status while wearing the hats of mother, wife, and community leader, among others. Kim Williams, COO of the NFL Network, Rosalyn Durant, Vice President of ESPNU and ESPNHS, and Sharon Byers, Vice President of Sports and Entertainment for The Coca-Cola Company are just a few women who have achieved noteworthy professional success without the slightest trace of nepotism. Frankly, league and team offices, corporate sponsorship departments, marketing agencies, and broadcast and cable networks need the diversity of thought that women can bring to the table. The sports industry has already begun to reap the benefits of its female contributors.
So ladies, consider this your call to action. As female fans, we comprise 30-45 percent of major American sport fan bases -- the leagues need us! Whether you're a casual or avid fan, don that team jersey with pride. Show those men in your life you don't root for Tom Brady just because of his Adonis-like good looks but that he has earned your fandom by virtue of his merits on the field. Put those dreams of becoming the next bombshell broadcaster into action. Sign up for that sports business class and start your journey to become the CFO for the New York Knicks. Subscribe to Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine with pride -- if anything your boyfriend should be impressed. And prove to both yourself and society that you are a renaissance woman. You're brains and beauty. You're athletic yet graceful. You're passionate yet disciplined. Be proud to be you.
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