Monday, December 10, 2007

Quoth the Ravens: Never more … is football a club just for men

I used to hate football. I used to loathe Sundays when the television was commandeered for hours on end of what appeared to be mere chest-thumping male chauvinism.

Then, one day, I decided to stop ignoring it and to start asking questions. And as it turns out, men really love to talk about football.

What does it mean to be “2nd and 2”?
Do you need both feet in for a catch to count?
What is a safety?
Why did the ref stop the play with a flag?
What makes the special teams “special”?

Through this process I learned many things, but most importantly I learned how much I truly love the strategy, hard hits, story lines, play calling (sometimes), and fan and community camaraderie that all come with football.

I thought I was an anomaly, but 46 percent of Ravens fans are female. More than ever, women are putting down their apron, donning a jersey and trekking out to M&T Bank Stadium for the beer-drinking, brat-eating and touchdown-cheering revelry that is football.

This has not gone unnoticed by the Baltimore Ravens, who hold an annual Football 101 Festival for women and recently introduced a women-only fan club called Purple. But if you ask me, we women already enjoy plenty of perk without a special fan club.

For instance, our wait to get in the stadium or use the restroom is considerably shorter than that of our male counterparts. When my boyfriend and I attended training camp, he received one autograph and I received six. Women even save money on jerseys by purchasing them in youth sizes.

Really though, the biggest perk is standing in the stadium, wearing a Ray Lewis jersey, screaming out the players names (“Reeeeeeeed”) and being a part of a club that is bigger than just football. And I, for one, am glad that it’s coed.

Any fellow female fans care to share their love of the game?

-EMILY ARNOLD, Special Publications Editor

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