Female Fandom in the United States
6 x 9
How women gain respect as fans in the world of sports
The Classical, an independent sports website, featured an interview with Andy Markovits on November 6, 2012.
The typical female sports fan remains very different from her male counterparts. In their insightful and engaging book, Sportista, Andrei S. Markovits and Emily Albertson examine the significant ways many women have become fully conversant with sports-acquiring a knowledge of and passion for them as a way of forging identities that until recently were quite alien to women.
Sportista chronicles the relationship that women have developed with sports in the wake of the second wave of feminism of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The changes women athletes have achieved have been nothing short of revolutionary. But, as Markovits and Albertson argue, women's identity as sports fans, though also changed in recent decades, remains notably different from that of men.
Sportista highlights the impediments to these changes that women have faced and the reality that, even as bona fide fans, they "speak" sports differently from and remain largely unaccepted by men.
"Sportista is an extremely well-researched and thoroughly enjoyable look at one of the most important topics in our culture today: how women and girls view, enjoy and talk about sports. Markovits and Albertson have tapped into a fascinating part of our nation's sports and social history with their intriguing, ground-breaking reporting. And their timing is perfect; the book arrives on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the law that changed the playing fields of America."
—Christine Brennan, USA Today columnist, ABC News and NPR commentator, and author of Best Seat in the House
"In this well-crafted book, Markovits and Albertson expand the horizon for the study of sports and gender by focusing on female fandom in the United States. They lucidly present the case for how women’s support of sports as fans contributes to gender equality in society, business, and politics. A must-read for gender, sports, and cultural studies as well as American politics."
—Eileen McDonagh, Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
"The gender divide in sports is no longer who plays—everybody does—but who cares enough to follow sports, obsess over stats, talk about it endlessly, and play in fantasy leagues—in short, to be a fan. Some women do cross over that Rubicon of Fandom—indeed, half the audience for the Super Bowl is female! In this fascinating study, Markovits and Albertson take you into their world. Looking through historical, cultural and gender lenses, Sportista offers a surprising, engaging look at these women's deft navigation of femininity and fandom—and its startling invisibility to male fans."
—Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Stony Brook University, and author of Guyland
"As someone who follows the National Football League through season and offseason, tunes in every day to Boston sports radio, and cannot be interrupted on Sundays in the fall, I was fascinated to read Markovits and Albertson's findings. Men always seem surprised—and a bit bemused—to hear me reel off the details of draft acquisitions and team strategies. Now I understand better why. Male and female sports fans alike will have fun with this book."
—Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University
"They provide a comprehensive review and analysis of women's athletics, sport journalism, and difficulties women encounter in the gendered domain of sport.... (T)he book fills a gap in the fandom literature. Thought provoking and enjoyable to read, this book will interest readers in a variety of social scientific fields--e.g., psychology, sociology, history--as well as those interested in sports. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"Markovits and Albertson explain that just as women have been demoted to secondary roles in the history of sport, female fans have also been relegated to the margins.... While Sportista raises numerous questions and makes controversial claims, the topic of female fandom is relatively under-studied in the discipline of sport studies. Markovits and Albertson's foray into the male-dominated arena of sports spectatorship is a first step toward understanding and deciphering the sidelining of women in the big-time sports in the USA."
—Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics
"Sportista is an interesting look at female (and male) sports fandom.... (I)t is an important contribution to the study of sports fandom and a step toward an understanding of why and how women consume sport and why so many don’t."
"Sportista offers an impressively global (in both senses) discussion on the impact of gender segregation in sport.... (T)his text is a fine feminist critique of hegemonic sport culture, and adds to the library of work demonstrating how gender segregation is detrimental to gender parity in sport and in wider culture."
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments
The Origins of Gender Difference in Sport
2 Women in Men’s Worlds
Process of Exclusion and Suppression of Females in Male-Dominated Realms Other Than Sport
3 Women as Sports Producers
Progress and Problems
4 Fandom and the Typical Female Sports Fan
5 Sportista I: Professional Women in the Contested Space of Sports Media
Issues of Entry and Acceptance
6 Sportista II: Following as a Hobby, the A-Typical Female Sports Fan Superfans in Their Own Right, with Their Own Voice, and Speaking Their Own Language
Appendix: Lists of Interviewees
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey
This series will disseminate serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics to be addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.