On a Saturday night in March, I left the musical "Once" and immediately checked my watch. If I hurried home, I could catch the last 15 minutes or so of the NCAA semifinals. If Kansas won that game, I would win my pool. (They did, and I did.) Though my boyfriend joked at my quick shift in attention, neither of us found it strange that a woman might want to see a Broadway love story and then scream at the TV over a basketball game in the same night.
The women behind the new -- and already controversial -- "While The Men Watch" seem to suggest otherwise. Billed as "'Sex and the City' meets ESPN," the CBC show features commentary about sporting events from producer Lena Sutherland and holistic nutritionist Jules Mancuso, which, according to their website, includes "everything from interpreting the rules of the game to coaches in need of a makeover."
All together now: Sigh.
Both married to "sports addict" men, Sutherland and Mancuso started the program as a way to cover the game in a way that appeals to the ladies, but from what I've seen, the broadcasts just play into male-female stereotypes. There are plenty of women who follow sports just as closely as men, and to suggest that their broadcast is something that "women actually want to hear" is just wrong. I actually want to hear what the penalty was. This bothers me the same way pink team items bother me -- I like pink as much as the next woman who happens to like pink, but do women really need a specially tailored female-friendly sports-watching experience?
Furthermore, "While The Men Watch" just kind of makes women look dumb. On Sutherland and Mancuso's blog post titled "6 Things Not to Say if His Team Loses," their No. 1 item is "At least they came in second place." And in this interview with CHUM FM, one of the co-hosts explains, "We've been watching football for the past three weeks, and we're still trying to figure out what a punt is." Really? No, you're not even trying. Not every woman -- or man, for that matter -- has to like sports, but it becomes problematic when you act like it is just too complicated to understand. Or as Erin Gloria Ryan put it on Jezebel: "Jesus ice-dancing Christ -- how are we still stuck on the notion that when it comes to watching sports, women are clueless idiot children?"
Now I will admit that there is one thing Sutherland and Mancuso do that I have found myself doing as well, and that is referring to a player on the field as my "boyfriend." (Oh, hello, former Longhorn Jordan Shipley.) But I didn't watch his games because of his good looks -- I just happened to notice his good looks while watching the games. I can multitask like that -- just as men were once able to watch the game and comment on Jim Tressel's sweater vests. Anyway, I certainly didn't choose my football "boyfriend" for their suggested reason: "It helps to choose a 'boyfriend' on the same team that your man is cheering for."
"My man" isn't even into college sports.