Ohio State University Study Finds Women Sports Fans Rarely Attend Sporting Events

A new study by researchers at Ohio State University finds that American women who identify as passionate sports fans don’t watch or attend athletic events much more frequently than women who say they aren’t as interested in sports.

“Sport is commonly assumed to be a masculine activity,” explains Frances Sutton a doctoral student in anthropology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “Women are not always made to feel comfortable or welcome in sporting environments, such as stadiums or sports bars, which may be one reason they are less likely to attend. In addition, women generally have more family responsibilities and may have less time than men to enjoy sporting activities.”

But the fact that many women who already identify as passionate fans aren’t going to many sporting events indicates that teams need to learn more about what types of fan experiences would appeal to women, Sutton said. “A lot of promotions by teams to attract women assume that all women are the same and don’t recognize that many are already passionate fans.”

Sutton is a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio. She holds a master’s degree in anthropology from Ohio State University.

The full study, “U.S. Women’s Sport Consumption and Self-Identified Fandom: An Exploration of Social Structural and Sociocultural Antecedents,” was published on the website of the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. It may be accessed here.

Kelsey Slater, an assistant professor of sports management at North Dakota State University in Fargo who was not involved in this study, notes that one reason professional sports teams have had difficulty marketing to women is that they employ few women in marketing and executive positions. There are also fewer opportunities for women to play professional sports which could influence fandom. “Women are making a great deal of progress in gaining a foothold in the sports industry – particularly in leadership positions –  but there is a long way to go,” Dr. Slater told WIAReport.

Dr. Slater notes that the National Football League has been successful in encouraging fandom among women. In fact, the league maintains that 47 percent of all its fans are women. More women watched the Super Bowl in 2020 than the Grammys, Oscars and Emmys combined. The NFL markets an extensive collection of apparel made especially for women. At least half of all teams in the league have fans clubs specifically for women. And the huge growth in fantasy football leagues has attracted many women and increased their interest and enthusiasm for watching and attending games.

Dr. Slater is a graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she majored in environmental studies and was a two-sport athlete in volleyball and track and field. She holds a master’s degree in sports administration and a Ph.D. in kinesiology with a concentration in sports studies from Mississippi State University.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply