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The NewSLU

Personal Essay: Dealing With Sexism as a Female Sports Fan

The author reflects on her personal experiences with misogyny while being an avid female sports fan

When Borussia Dortmund drew Chelsea FC for the next round of Champions League matches, I knew that I could not miss either match. As my friends and I got ready to go to Teatro Barcelo for the night, I proposed pregaming at Triskel so we could watch the game and have a few cheaper drinks before going to the club. Lucky for me, they agreed.  

Arriving at the bar, I notice there is a queue for a table. While waiting in line, a waiter approached asking us if we were there just for drinks. “Also to watch the game,” I replied. “To watch a game?” he asked. “Yes, to watch the Champions League match,” I replied. The waiter stared at me for a minute and then replied, “you girls want to watch the game? This game? Do you know what it is?”. Instead of continuing the pointless conversation, I rolled my eyes and led the group out of the bar.  

From a young age, I’ve been a passionate sports fan. At 14, I became a member of the Cauldron, the supports section for my local MLS team, Sporting Kansas City. Growing up with two University of Kansas graduates as parents, I’ve also come to love KU basketball. Of course there are the Kansas City Chiefs, who have brought so much glory to the city over the past few years. I also love European soccer (or football!) and Formula One. Truthfully, there is not a sport I dislike. Loving sports has brought so much to my life. It has connected me to my community, introduced me to other fans who are now friends and allowed me to express myself. I would not change being a sports fan for the world, but there are times that being a female sports fan is the most frustrating thing imaginable.    

Being a female sports fan means feeling like you have to know the ins and outs of all sports in order to be a “real fan”. It is accepted that men are sport fans so there is not an expectation that they must remember a whole team’s squad including reserves, or that they know who won the World Cup in 1985, or who is leading the EFL League One.   

I’ve had it happen too many times where I’ve mentioned being a Chelsea and having the follow up question be, “is it because you think Mason Mount is cute?” Though he no longer plays for the club, I still get asked that question occasionally. I can’t help but wonder how many men have had that experience.  

The purpose of sports is to provide community and a sense of belonging for all, and somewhere along the way that message has been lost. Placing such emphasis on gender distracts from the potential bonds that could be formed over a similar love for sports. Supporting the same team is grounds for the beginning of a potentially beautiful friendship, but the chance is taken away by misogynistic assumptions that are entirely irrelevant.  

Women are allowed to be casual fans. Also, they are allowed to be passionate fans. Women are allowed to not be sports fans at all. The same goes for men. Ultimately, it is important to let people enjoy things!  

This summer, I am going to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. I cannot wait to revisit the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after my incredible experience last year. Hopefully Mercedes will be back on the podium this year! 

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About the Contributor
Abby Langton
Abby Langton, Editor-in-Chief
Abby Langton, a senior and communication major, is the Editor-in-Chief of The NewSLU. She has covered hard news, features and sports.

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