Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mets vs. Braves and Women Sports Fans

What a game, right? I actually missed the top of the sixth in the transition from living room to the sports bar around the corner, so I don't even know how they got their three runs over on what seemed to be a tight Mets defense throughout. Or until the ninth, anyway. Still, awesome game. No homo on this, but does it count as small ball when the winning run is a homer? Whatever it's called, it's fun baseball to watch.

Unrelated, but a blog post that was somewhat tangentially baseball-related prompted a user comment linking to an older discussion on a (booooo) Yankees fan blog that is more or less about what sexist boors Yankees fans are. No surprise there.

Anyway, I read this several days ago, and aside from thinking that I probably know more women baseball fans than men (and that Peter and I are more likely to discuss the history of uniforms than statistics), I didn't give it much thought. But when I woke up this morning, the phrase the Bronx Banter guy used to characterize the sexist conversation happening around him—"[l]et's make fun of women because they don't have a clue when it comes to sports"—came back to me. What a hilarious thought! And my favorite defense (offered by multiple commenters in the original blog post) is that, well, for at least some sports, most of the knowledgeable fans really are men, so what's sexist about saying so? Even more hilarious!

Grant that the premise is true: women, in general, don't know or care anything about baseball. Well, we could say the same thing about, say, Dungeons and Dragons, or prog rock. Sure, there are dozens of women who play tabletop RPGs or listen to King Crimson, but they are scattered across the population and therefore sparsely represented. These pursuits are hugely male-dominated. But what would we say about a 14th-level paladin who sought to "make fun of women because they don't have a clue when it comes to" rolling for initiative? We would quite rightly identify the speaker as an insufferable dork, a hopeless geek who probably has a chip on his shoulder from not getting laid.

Not only that, but if we perceive that kind of attitude as widespread in the worlds of tabletop gaming, then that perception functions as an indictment of the entire hobby, and women's lack of participation is completely justified, a rational reaction to an environment hostile to women. It's like making fun of black people for not playing golf: this kind of inequity can not only not be made light of, it must actively be lamented, lest the male prog rock aficionado or white golfer immediately be suspected of getting into a hobby because of who it excludes.

But anyway, I don't grant the premise, as men don't at all appear to be overrepresented in the population of sports fans, but merely in the population of people who can only talk about or form relationships over sports. I.e., the population of geeks. Which, yeah, we've had a lock on since probably while most of the cavepeople were out bringing down a mammoth, these two cavedudes were out looking for specimens, making fun of women who didn't know the first thing about stone collecting.

Update: I forgot to mention something I noticed at the bar as I checked out the scores across the rest of baseball. First, watching the Yankees get whooped as my Mets came back to win was a treat. But then Seattle also won while Detroit lost, putting the M's ahead in the AL wild card race. So all my teams won and all my anti-teams lost. Awesome.

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