So you say you're a football fan a Seahawks fan. Well ladies, if you want to be taken seriously, if you want to be asked for your opinion instead of asked to go grab another beer, you have some work to do.
Let's start with the pink jerseys. You know what I'm talking about. The cute little pink or light blue or lime green jerseys so many women choose to show team spirit. Throw in a hair toss and a giggle and it's enough to make me sick! Look, unless you are under the age of twelve GET A REAL JERSEY! A home or away jersey that says I'm a fan, not I'm here as arm-candy for my husband/boyfriend/whoever. And as for any other fan attire, if it has sparkling sequins it is as bad as the damn pink jerseys. Nowadays, you can find many acceptable garments made for women. It's fine to go the oversized guys clothing route as well. Just think about the message it sends and choose wisely!
Speaking of attire for game day, if you want to be taken seriously as a fan, Qwest Field is not the place to show off your high-heel shoes or your pancake make-up or your perfectly coifed hair. It's a football game, not a fashion show. Dress for the occasion. I admit that you can be fashionable and warm at the same time, but all those women who start whining halfway through the second quarter about the wind and the rain and the cold give the rest of us real female fans a bad name.
When it comes to game day, food and beverage consumption is another area where women can easily lose any credibility. The best choice for a game day meal is always a beer and a dog as in hotdog. A hard lemonade is an acceptable alternative to a beer, but wine is for dinner parties, not ball games. I know Qwest Field has prided themselves on the plethora of available food choices, but choose a tossed green salad and you deserve to be attacked by that flock of seagulls hovering over the stands. Besides, if you eat and drink something you might actually stay a little warmer just sayin'.
Football etiquette can be tricky. Know when to yell and scream (defense on the field) and when to be quiet (offense on the field). Know when to admit the other team made a good play and when to blame it on the stinking refs (no offense to the great Ed Hochuli). Know when to stand and when to sit. Be aware of the goings on in the stands around you. It is acceptable to high-five a perfect stranger, maybe even hug one if it's that big of a play. However, the butt-slaps should be left to the boys on the field, so feel free to slug the guy who tries to sneak one in at the game. And for the record, real fans stay until the clock reads zeros, regardless of the score.
Now truly ladies, the most important part of female fandom is having actual knowledge of the sport and knowing when to share it. In some respects this is where you have to be better than the boys. Yes, you need to know the players names and numbers, who plays what position, etc. But to be taken seriously you need to know more. Actually, one of the best places to start is the three dollar program they sell at each game. I also highly recommend listening to pre- and post- game radio broadcasts, as well as paying attention to knowledgeable television analysts.
For a woman to be able to hold her own in the sea of Seahawks fans, she needs to know the game and the team. The most important day in April is not Tax Day or Earth Day, it is Draft Day (or for the real fan, Draft Weekend). The name Nordstrom should immediately evoke thoughts of the beloved family that helped bring the NFL to Seattle as the first owners of the team, not the Half-Yearly Sale. Efren Herrera is not a designer; he was a wily kicker for the Hawks in the '70's. Steve Largent is the only inductee to the Hall of Fame as a Seahawk, but not the only one who played for the Seahawks. Fredd Young was a linebacker, after Michael Jackson (not the entertainer) but before Chad Brown. (That was for you, Todd).
And you have to have an intelligent opinion. What makes Patrick Kerney so hard to contain? He's strong, quick, and has a lethal spin move. What has contributed to such a strong showing by Marcus Trufant this season? It is his move in the secondary to a more comfortable side where he had success in college. Why did Shaun Alexander's wrist injury slow down his running productivity so much? It kept him from using a stiff-arm on the outside where he prefers to run the ball versus up the middle. You don't have to be right - heck, those drunken idiots in sports bars say flat out stupid things all the time and the other guys listen. You just have to have a plausible idea and be able to articulate it in an intelligent manner. You have to be able to speak the language. You have to show you have a brain and it does more than hold recipes and entertainment news.
When it comes to speaking up, there is a fine line for women. The line falls somewhere between where guys are a little excited by a chic who knows football and where guys are embarrassed at being shown up by a chic who knows more than they do. It's a line I have crossed over many times. The key is to speak up when you know you are right, but only a few times - no one likes a show off, and when you can bring another viewpoint to the conversation to make others think but not look foolish. This becomes even trickier when the male of the species has consumed many beers. I suggest practicing with family members before venturing out in public. I will admit, honing this skill has helped me in my professional life as well in being able to engage in small talk with men that makes them comfortable and eases in to work conversations.
I was lucky. I grew up with a love of sports and a grandfather who took me to dozens of Seahawks games, nurturing the 12th man spirit and pride. My Steve Largent Wheaties box and Raiders Busters t-shirt are still in my garage. My fourth grade English paper was about my goal of becoming the first female NFL head coach. I suffered through 2-14 seasons and swelled with excitement and pride at the first Superbowl appearance. My dream is to raise the 12th man flag. I have been a Seahawks fan since the beginning and will be for life. And I know I am not the only woman out there with a passion for the team and a knowledge of the game!
So ladies, be proud of your love of Seahawks football. Don't allow yourself to be relegated to second-class fan status because of your gender. Support your team with intelligence and gusto! Go Hawks!
Kelly with son Ben at a Seahawks game this season.
Kelly Martin writes for Seahawks.NET. When she's not on the road with work or spending time with husband Dan and her boys Ben and Nate, she's cheering on the Hawks. Kelly can be reached via email here.