How does it feel being a woman in the man's world of the NFL?
How are you treated by men?
Do they show you respect, or give you a hard time?
When you support your team, do you wear your team colors?
These are just a few of the questions I have been asked from time to time being a hard core, female Raider football fan. I was recently prompted to write an article about my responses to these questions, so ladies, pay attention and feel free to comment back.
Guys, now is definitely the time to put your two cents in. Let's keep it real in the Raider Nation!
First of all, it is true that NFL fans are mostly men, but the female fan base has grown fairly rapidly over the last several years. Taken from the New York Post, NFL statistics show that from 2001 to 2005, the percentage of female NFL fans increased by 8.6 percent.
In 2005 an ESPN fan poll found that 43 percent of the football league's fans were women.
It was reported by the NFL in 2006 that the female fan base grew by 6.5 percent, and currently averages the same growth percentage annually.
With that said, the NFL is not necessarily a man's world anymore.
However, ladies, there are some things you should know if you are wanting to keep it real as a Raider fan.
I was asked how I was treated as a female football fan, and I must confess I am treated very well by the members of the opposite sex in the NFL environment. However, I feel it is extremely important to note that the respect of the male football fan-base must be earned.
I will tell you a short story.
At the time, I had accepted a wonderful job opportunity which required me to move to a new town about an hour and half south of Tampa Bay, Fla. in 2002. Wanting to make new friends, I ventured to a sports bar for a Raiders game.
Dressed, as always, in my silver and black, I was expecting to see a barrage of red Bucs jerseys for which I would have to swim through just to find a couple of fans in Raider gear. I was happy to see hardly any Bucs jerseys and quite a few Raider Nation fans in attendance.
I had a gentleman say to me, "Wow. I have never seen a Raiders jersey look so good." My response was, "Thanks, but I am more interested in seeing if you are sweet enough to give up your seat so that I can have a better view of the game." He smiled and gave me his seat. He knew I wasn't there to flirt at that point.
I was there to keep it real. I did thank him by buying him a plate of chicken wings and a beer, as I really did appreciate his awesome gesture of giving up a really good seat for the game.
Another point relates to how I was proudly wearing my team colors regardless of whether or not I would be the only silver and black jersey in a sea of Tampa Bay red.
Ladies, listen up.
I have spoken to several men about this next particular topic of discussion, and the general consensus is the same. Pink is not acceptable to wear for your team colors. Even if what you are wearing sports the team logo and is the cutest top you have ever seen, just say, "No!" Real women wear silver and black! It doesn't mean you have to wear a big, bulky jersey.
There are plenty of chic and hot tops, jeans, skirts, and even jewelry available in real Raider colors. We have the best team colors in the entire NFL, and you better believe you look hot sporting them!
A very important point to keeping it real for 2010, ladies, is in relation to knowledge. Know your team.
Another story involved a female Bucs fan who probably had a little too much to drink when she decided to trash talk the Raider Nation. I listened to her go on and on about nothing at all, really. That's when I knew she was just there for the beer. Tapping my spoon on my bottle of Mich Ultra, (don't give me any crap ... I like to look GOOD in silver and black), I gain the attention of the crowd.
Turning towards the woman, I ask, "What is the name of the Bucs quarterback?" When all she did was blink due to lack of, what should be, common knowledge, I decided to answer for her giving the response, "I will give you a hint. The initials are 'B.J.'"
The crowd erupted in laughter, and she shut her mouth.
Knowledge equals power and gains respect. You don't have to be a walking encyclopedia of knowledge to impress the crowd.
Ladies, if your guy is a football fan, and you are willing to hang out, watch the games, and start out learning even just the basics, you will be surprised at how quickly your knowledge of the game of football will grow.
If you want to learn more after reading this, for starters, check out NFL.com and view the Raiders site. You can access everything from the team roster, allowing you the opportunity to get to know the players, to purchasing 50-yard line tickets for you and the man in your life.
Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Asking questions shows your guy that you are willing to learn. Trust me. He will love to answer all your questions to the point that you may have to ask him to settle down if the information starts to become overwhelming.
There you have it.
Football isn't just a man's world anymore, however, gaining respect as a female requires a little bit of effort. To recap, know your team players and the basics, wear your real colors proudly, knowledge of football is power, don't be afraid to ask questions and always be willing to learn.
Keep it real Lady Raiders!