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I need to change the settings on my phone to not alert me of new mail anytime after 1am, because the lack of heat in my apartment makes it hard enough to log in a healthy number of sleep hours, without have a high-pitched beep screaming on my end table whenever I get so much as junkmail from 1-800-CONTACTS. 


The point of this being is that last night I get an email notice circa 2:45am about a new segment of BleacherReport.com, targeting women in sports. Middle-of-the-night rude awakening notwithstanding, the notice of this new group triggered a nerve--an issue that has long made me huff and puff in aggravation, and consequently riles Susie Feminist's pink feathers in indignant protest.

Remember Sports Illustrated for Women? Yeah, neither do I. That's because I have gummy bears that have lasted longer than this defunct periodical. The problem with this type of desperate niche is that it overlooks a significant insight. Women don't like sports. HOWEVER, those that do, like SPORTS. They don't want need to have sports tailored to their sex. 

This book "Differentiate or Die" by advertising genius Jack Trout talks about why this type of marketing to seeming untapped niches isn't necessarily the brightest move:

"Successful firsts aren't tricky. They tend to be good ideas. Conversely, unsuccessful firsts tend to be bad ideas. R.J. Reynolds spent a fortune on the first smokeless cigarette. This is the antithesis of common sense. Their theory was that smokeless cigarettes would appeal to nonsmokers. Unfortunately, nonsmokers don't buy cigarettes. Something like $325 million went up in smoke (or nonsmoke) with the dismal launch of Premier cigarettes... Premier may have been a first, but it was just plain stupid."

If you smoke or like sports, you don't want a skewed version of either. I will take a man reporter over a female one 10 out of 10 times. Not because I'm sexist, but because they're better at it. And not because they're guys and necessarily know more. In fact, plenty of times the women's encylopedic sports knowledge edges out those of men. But I don't need or want to hear every fact ever about a running back. I just want pithy, conversational, uneffected analysis. The reason I never get this from women is because their reports indicate they don't identify as a sports caster. They categorize themselves as WOMEN sports casters. 

The glaring difference between them is that men have nothing to prove. That makes them sometimes sloppy but ultimately likeable. Women do have something to prove. And that makes them ultimately successful and often unentertaining. It's like watching a boardroom scene in The Apprentice or something. 

After being absent from the scene for so long, women deliver their commentaries with noble ambition and meticulous accuracy. Kudos, ladies. But no matter how much you know, no matter how hard you try to dodge the stigma, it still comes across to me as impersonal and trying too hard. Both of which are understandable, but not something I care to mix with the effortless leisure of watching the game.

No matter how ridiculous Boomer sounds, no matter how many melodramatic Gus Johnson seems, and no matter how vacuous John Sterling is, I still prefer their grounded, honest, and seemless game coverages. I want to hear Sterling's bubbly and often substanceless celebration of a grounder to short that he describes as "nearing the warning track," than I want to hear Suzyn Waldman's rattling laundry list of every radar gun count of every pitch thrown since the turn of the century. 

I'm frankly sick of hearing girls start any fantasy league story with "I'm the only girl in the league." WHO CARES? If you like the sport, then what difference does it make? Constantly bringing your gender to everyone's attention proves your love of the game is punctuated by your love of the fact you're a girl who loves the game. 

If women want to be considered as equals in the sports industry, then why do they perpetually imbue their work with reminders of their sex? If they want to be seen as a professional journalist and treated like one, then what difference does it make that you're a super brave independent girl tackling the intimidating world of Monday Night Football?

Women should take their cue from Terry Griffith, the underrated 80s B-list movie character who chopped off her locks and de-feminized herself so she could be taken seriously as a writer. Not exactly follow it to letter, but write for the sake of writing, not for the sake of qualifying that with your gender. It baffles me in sports journalism the same way it confounded me during the election. 

Can we put this question to bed? Was the election about race or not? Because all I'd hear during the campaign was how it wasn't black vs white. It was about the candidates stances on the issues. Until Obama was elected, an outcome that was as predictable as the presence of a sheltered conservative pitted up against a gay minority in any given season of The Real World. On November 4, facebook all but exploded with the rampant status updating, notifying me that essentially everyone I know was crying with joy over the happiest day of their lives, the day America restored faith in its citizens by electing a black man to president. 

Except...I thought it wasn't about race. Why is it a big deal that he's black? Why not be excited because you're glad his policies were victorious? And why is a big deal if you're a chick who likes sports? Why not just be a sports fan, rather than perpetuating a stifling prejudice by qualifying your success by the fact you're a girl? 

I'm not saying it's an industry that should be exclusive to men. But I'll opt for the bumbling male every single time for the same reason I didn't like Lost in Translation, Vanilla Sky, or Taxi Driver. I don't care how impressive the cinematography is or how sophisticated the script is or how challenging the production was. When it comes to entertainment, I'm not deep enough for subtext. Give me Vince Vaughn playing video games over Scarlett Johanson transcending existential barriers. Any day.

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