We’re Way Past Sports 101: Female Fan Sophistication at College and Professional Sporting Events

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Student Presentation

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Faculty Sponsor

Laurel Traynowicz


Female fans of college and professional sport are far from novelties at sporting events, currently constituting roughly 35% of each league with growing numbers every year (Adler, 2014). The National Football League (NFL), industry leader in marketing to women, recognizes that it depends on female fans in order to grow (Chemi, 2014). Yet attitudes toward these fans seem stuck in the mid-20th century. This gender bias, part of America’s growing pains as it struggles to truly embrace diversity and inclusivity, continues to encounter both progress and distress. One example of female fan misperception lies in the continued offerings of rudimentary lessons in “Football 101” or “Basketball for Women.” While these clinics may address the needs of a segment of the population, women have largely exhausted these basic camps. Yet college and professional sport clinics that go beyond the first level are virtually nonexistent. One underlying reason for this is the lack of a distinct identity for a team’s female fans. The current study employed interview methodology in examining attitudes and perceptions of over 700 female fans at college and professional sporting events. Results reveal a wider range of fan sophistication than previously acknowledged, and recommendations are made for the future of female fandom.

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