Women are in and around baseball everywhere. I think that it is pretty awesome to turn on the TV and see a knowledgeable woman reporting from a game. I also enjoy having great discussions with fellow female fans during a game at a ballpark. However, I always feel as if there is this stigma that females can’t be just as passionate about the sport as men. That we always have to have some ulterior motive when enjoying the sport. I’ve heard so many different things over the years: women just like to look at the players, they only pretend to watch so that they can impress their boyfriends, or that they’re “cleat chasers.”
According to the MLB, females make up nearly half (47%) of their fan base, but often times they aren’t viewed as equals to their male counterparts. Whether it’s the pink jerseys, hats, and shirts (WHY is it assumed ALL women like pink??), “ladies night” promotions, or male fans asking females trivia questions to make them “prove” that they’re a “true” fan (this has honestly happened to me more times than I can count), the disparity between how male and female fans are viewed is very evident. The same can be said for how male and female sports reporters are being viewed and judged differently. It’s slowly getting better, but it is nowhere near where it should and needs to be.
I never wanted to get into this personal subject on my blog, but I felt as if now was the time to bring up some of my experiences. Recently, as both a writer and a fan, I’ve had things that have been said to me that probably would never have happened if I was a male.
First off, I haven’t posted a new article in over a week. The reason? It’s been hard getting players who want to tell me their stories. I’ve had quite a few ideas for player features over the last couple weeks and have reached out to them in hopes of getting an interview or some quotes for a blog post. One player flat out told me that he doesn’t take a blog about baseball seriously if it is written by a female because we can’t play the sport. This is probably the one thing that can be said that really bothers me. Assuming that I do not know the sport just because I cannot play it at a professional level is absurd. I have spent every summer for the last seven years at a ballpark, and yes, I pay attention and watch the game. I don’t go to “gossip” with my friends or just “stare at the players”!
A couple of other things have happened this past week that weren’t “female” related, or they possibly could be and it just wasn’t given as the reason. Another independent player, who has spent time in affiliated ball, told me he wasn’t going to be with an indy team long, so he didn’t want to be associated with an independent based blog. And finally, most players just don’t reply to my inquires or blow off my request for an interview because I’m not “official” or associated with some media outlet. A “no thank you” reply is much nicer than a “No, you don’t know how to write” reply. I know that I’m not official, and I don’t expect players to agree to an interview. However, I do expect some sort of professionalism and respect.
On the flip side, it has been even worse as a fan. If anyone knows me, they know that I’m passionate about the sport and the guys who play it. I’ve been a season ticket holder for a major league team and an independent team since I was in college. Being at a ballpark practically every night, you get to know the players that you see all summer long. In addition, I’m pretty big into social media, so I’ve followed and have become friends with many players on and off the field over the years.
I’m a very giving person. I love to help out anyway that I can. Most of the time, that means sending care packages to players during spring training or throughout the season if I know that they need or want something that they don’t always have the luxury to get with their indy or minor league salaries.
I also LOVE to draw. I have even written a blog post about my drawings HERE. For me, baseball players are a natural choice for subject matter to improve my skills and drawings during the season.
However, recently my care packages and drawings have led to fellow fans labeling me as a “stalker.” I understand that for an outsider who doesn’t know my friendships with players, it appears odd. But I really wish that they didn’t talk about me, spread lies and gossip about stuff that they don’t understand without getting to know me and who I am.
The same can probably be said about players’ girlfriends. The care packages aren’t really a new concept with me. I’ve actually sent one to a specific player for the last three years. This off season, he started dating a girl who didn’t understand me at all and wouldn’t bother to listen to my side of the story. She sent me a message telling me to forget about sending him candy this spring and that I better “stay away” from her man. When I tried to reply, she blocked me. Another player, who recently broke up with his girlfriend, told me that he wasn’t allowed to be my friend during the season when he was dating her, but we can be friends now that they broke up.
Sometimes, issues like this completely blow my mind. I’m not out to steal anyone’s “man.” I don’t dress provocatively at the ballpark or try to bring a player home with me. I’m just trying to be a nice fan and help out any way that I can.
If the care packages and drawings bring a smile to a player’s face after a hard day at the field or a tough road trip, then it is all worth it. If I can make a player’s day by featuring them in a blog post, it’s worth it.
And really that’s all that matters to me.