Are Women Sport Fans?

15 04 2009

Today I was giving a talk at a local Rotary Club, which I enjoyed very much. It’s fun to talk about my work and (try to) translate it into interesting information for those outside academia. The questions I get are varied and always thought provoking.

The talk pertained to how to develop physically active girls and mentioned the importance of increasing the number of female coaches in youth sport—which is less than ~20%. One attendee asked me if we are to increase the number of female coaches aren’t we assuming that women WANT to coach and like sports enough TO coach? (this is the stuff of another blog…stay tuned). He wondered if I knew of any data about the percentage of females who “support” and attend sport events. I didn’t know off the top of my head, so I looked it up (See Table).are-women-sport-fans1

The answer to his question is “Yes!” women do consume, attend and support sports. Not in equal numbers as do men, but in higher numbers than I think is normally assumed. Notably, females attend the WNBA most frequently and one-third of fans at NFL and NBA games are women. Given recent attention to women’s basketball and the viability and sustainability of the WNBA, those in charge of marketing the WNBA should pay attention to the fact that half of their fan base are women. (I’m sure they are well aware of this fact and then some) But the $1,000,000 question is—How do you market to female sport consumers effectively? I don’t think we’ve got this formula quite right… yet. But I think one reason links back to the question posed to me this morning. I think far too often it is assumed that females aren’t as interested in sports as are men. I also think it is assumed the strategies used to market to sport-loving men, will work with sport-loving women. I hope for the sake of the new WPS and the WNBA that someone who knows a lot more about sport marketing can help us get it right.

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6 responses

15 04 2009
20tauri

I recently participated in an online discussion on women’s interest in sports and overall interest in women’s sports (see http://gothamist.com/2009/04/12/making_the_call_perfection_apprecia.php). Thanks for digging up the numbers.

15 04 2009
MER11

Good piece. The hockey attendance stat struck me. The Washington Capitals have started a campaign aimed directly at women fans — Club Scarlet. It’s a lot of online engagement and well as events and other activities. It’s new and will be interesting if it can be a model for other teams/sports reaching women and growing that fan base.

Thanks for the interesting post. Looking forward to reading more.

16 04 2009
26 04 2009
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24 03 2010
The NBA.com Dance Bracket? « Nicole M LaVoi.com

[…] comprise a growing, and predominately untapped, market of sport fans. In a previous blog about female sport fans, I summarized the statistics about the percentage of women that attend professional sport […]

16 12 2010
Predictions on how the media will talk about UConn Women’s Basketball winning streak « Nicole M LaVoi.com

[…] success of and support for men’s professional sport is attributed to only males. The fact is, nearly 40% of all fans of professional men’s sports are women. Therefore the lack of interest and coverage of UConn should be equally attributed to males and […]

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