Women Love Football

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.

To paraphrase a feminist concept of male resistance to the growing power of women in our society, it has been said "the stronger women get, the more men love football." This to be interpreted that men love football, revere football, because it's seemingly the last all-male frontier. Fighter pilots in the military, surgeons on the front lines of battle, jockeys in the great thoroughbreds' saddles….women today work and compete side by side with men. But football, that's a testosterone world. From Pop Warner to junior high, from Texas to Ohio, from goal post to goal post, everything about the gridiron speaks male. The extra broad shoulder pads, the extra tight slim-hipped pants, the terminology. Warriors, gladiators, brothers.

If we sat down a group of outer space aliens or foreigners who know nothing about our culture or children too young to yet make gender differentiations and showed them a Dallas Cowboys game, what would they glean about the roles of men and women in America? Men are strong, valiant, fast, willing to be accountable for each other. They can leap beyond human dimensions. They throw deep Hail Mary passes with bionic biceps.

So we're conducting a focus group experiment. Our viewers are watching the Cowboys and getting the picture, loud and clear, that men are powerful, fearless, and immensely capable. They are Action personified. Then the camera pans the bevy of Cowboys cheerleaders. The camera works from ground level. They zoom up to extreme close-ups. The proverbial pom poms shake, rattle and roll. The message is clear. Women stand by their men. Actually, the message is that women just stand by.

And yet through all the male imagery, the male aggrandizement, that is the essence of football, I find it more than curious that a full 44 percent of NFL fans are women. And we're not talking about women who necessarily relate to the cheerleaders. We're talking about independent women. Women who make their own living. Women who raise their own children. They…oh who am I kidding….WE love the NFL.

It's the most successful sports league in the world, with yearly parity that keeps fans from cities all over America realistically hoping their team is going to be the big Super Bowl champion. It's the league that makes crossover stars far more successfully than does baseball or basketball. Whereas the public at large doesn't know or care much about the current World Series winning pitcher, they do know Joe Namath and Terry Bradshaw and Brett Favre.

I'd like to hear sociologists explain the dichotomy, the vast chasm between women voting and lobbying and protesting to take our rightful, equal places next to men in all sectors of our culture while we, the same women, brazenly proclaim die-hard fanaticism for a game that is nothing short of hallowed male worship.

All I can say is: I have a friend, a woman friend, who's a doctor. Very smart. Total feminist. She's driving around L.A. this week with a big cheese slice on her head. As for myself, outdoors fanatic, will spend this beautiful Sunday fixated on the television screen for seven continuous hours. The Pack is Back.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.



Diana Nyad