Please give me a moment to digress. I've been writing on this website a little less than a year, and I find writing about Chivas USA to be a great experience day in and day out. I follow MLS because I love it, and I support Chivas USA because they are my team and I love them.
You are most likely aware of this, but look up at the byline - I'm also a woman.
This is not a secret. I do not use a pen name, I have never hid my gender, but I also consider myself an MLS fan and blogger, much like the male fans and bloggers out there. Frankly speaking, I feel like there's considerable common ground between males and females who follow the sport and the league.
But lately, I've been feeling more and more cast out about being a woman who follows MLS. The latest incident came Monday, when Simon Borg, who is a writer and editor on the league website and co-hosts two podcasts, said on Extra Time Radio (you can fast-forward to the last 5 minutes of the show) that women who were super-fans (to be distinguished from "casual fans") were not appealing to potential male partners. He also said that women as casual fans was great, as they could go to games with their male partners, but to be fanatically interested in the sport was kind of a turn-off.Here's my biggest issue with Borg's comments: he represents the league whenever he opens his mouth. They pay him to say things like women who are "too" into MLS are not attractive mates. And this example is not the first by the league's official media in the last few months to be, frankly, straight up sexist. For example, the website Fake Sigi posted this screengrab from the official MLS facebook account in March. Just a joke, right? Chicks are strippers...haha, yeah that's sooooo hilarious.
I got all hot and bothered several weeks ago, when MLS posted a cartoon picture of their "Kick off Mug" character on March 30, who was supposed to be the frat boy dream of the male soccer fan, I suppose. Drinking, picking up ladies, and watching soccer...what a life. People complained about the picture heading that post so much that the league took it down, but to my knowledge never apologized or acknowledged that a photo featuring a "lady mug" who was almost pure breasts was kind of an insult to the female fans of the league. (Click here on my twitter profile, to see the image...never mind the other picture of the dog).
You may think I'm overreacting, but I don't think so. This is an alarming pattern, and MLS needs to stop immediately. The cascade of representations of women as good supporters of the real deal, the "true" and legitimate male MLS fan, was retrograde when the league was founded in the 1990s. I encounter a lot of cool male MLS fans who never take issue with my gender, and I don't feel like I'm being treated differently on a daily basis than the average male fan. I also find my dealings with media members to be almost universally positive, and I don't have a lot to complain about.
But this awful "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" garbage is too much. Nobody is forcing women to become MLS fans, and there are a variety of levels of interest, from those who hate all sports to those who are the biggest "super-fans." Guess what? The same goes for men! Being a guy does not make one a sports fan or soccer fan. Start considering women likewise.
I know that sexism still exists in society, but I can shut out random people who continue to be sexist. If I am expected to follow the league and write competently about this team on a daily basis, however, I can't shut out the league's official media entities. This pattern needs to stop - get rid of the comments and images that make women feel like intruders, and support them like male fans. Otherwise, the league risks alienating some of its most passionate and loyal fans, and everybody loses.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!