This whole time, I have been keeping a small secret from you all. A secret that will probably change your opinion of me forever. A secret that has been really difficult to keep hidden as it constantly threatens to expose itself - perhaps it already has.
Before I became a baseball fan, I was first a football fan. Not just any football fan - a passionate one.
Football was my first love, and though we have had our ups and downs (mostly downs lately), I still love it. I love discussing it, watching it, playing it. I just love it.
When I was in the third grade the Rams were my one and only. I had just switched schools in the beginning of the 2001-2002 season and left all my friends behind. There was no Facebook to keep in touch, no Twitter - I had just signed up for my e-mail address (lil_scooter93 FTW!), but barely knew how to use a computer, let alone the slow dial-up internet out in the Boondocks. My friends and I wrote letters and called each other occasionally, but it still wasn't the same. I was very shy and very lonely.
Third grade is a tough age to make new friends. It is just the age where you start to feel self-conscious, in addition to the being the age where you become wary of strangers. I didn't have cable or satellite TV growing up, so bonding over Spongebob Squarepants wasn't yet an option, and normal kids apparently didn't watch The Joy of Painting, which frankly is a parenting failure. My sense of humor hadn't really developed yet, and I had glasses and liked to read. I wasn't awkward or picked on really (I was witty as hell and would shut that down fast), but I was quiet and shy (the opposite of what I am now) and it was slow making new friends.
So watching Kurt, Isaac, Tory, Marshall, Aeneas, Adam, London, and the gang on Sunday was like being with friends. It made me happy and as a "Daddy's Girl" gave me time to hangout with Pops. Football was and still is a huge part of my life, even though I am excellent at making friends now, and have split a lot of my attention to baseball.
For Christmas, my uncle got me a Kurt Warner jersey. I told him I wanted Aeneas Williams, but he explained that Warner was a smarter investment due to his long-term contract or something. I wore it proudly to school the next day I could, and I was so happy until I heard someone say something to me that ruined everything: You can't wear that - you are a girl. Do you even know anything about football?
The specifics of the subsequent conversation are not important, but it ended with me getting quizzed about football by a group of fourth grade boys to prove myself. Even though I knew most of the answers, it was mortifying, and I never wore my jersey to school again. I didn't know it at the time, but I had just experienced my first incident of overt sexism.
As the years passed my love for other sports grew, yes, including baseball. Part of this was due to the expansion of my family's television provider from the basic "rabbit ears" antenna to satellite TV, but I think another part was my own tiny version of rebellion. I cannot like sports because I am girl? Watch me. Incidents like that gradually grew rarer - though I could fill pages of stories from cat calls while playing basketball to the powder puff football game controversy of 2010 to #LearnBaseball.
As a woman who is also a fan of sports, I have dealt with sexism in that area for most of my life, so when I saw CBS was promoting a sports talk show to "appeal to woman", I didn't really know what to think. On one hand, I applaud CBS for recognizing that there is an audience of women viewers out there who are not being adequately represented, and that there are female sports journalists, producers, and directors that could thrive on a bigger stage, but - and this is a big but - women are not a gimmick to use to get attention. It is one thing to represent the female audience with women who provide intelligent analysis, but another entirely to create a sports show with a female staff and promote it as "for women". Does this mean other sports shows are not "for women"?
What women want in their sports talk shows is not all that different from what men want. We want good information. We want witty banter. We want intelligent opinions. It isn't like women prefer bWAR and men prefer fWAR. If a station would like to create a show that appeals to female fans, maybe, just maybe, they could start with not having their analysts make disgustingly sexist and just plain stupid comments (ESPN did suspend Smith and Esiason apologized, which is something).
Women can like, even love, sports and I really believe that most people are aware of this now. While this show may have good intentions, and looks to showcase a very respectable lineup of women, it doesn't fix the real problem - it hides it. Instead of telling Mr. Smith he cannot say offensive and sexist things on television, it instead appears to tell women "Hey look, ladies, we made this show for you to watch. Let us men say what we want over here."
Sports can appeal to anyone - athletes and non-athletes, adults and children, men, and yes, women. This is part of their beauty and attraction. The attention should not be on creating a show that appeals to men or appeals to women, but a show that appeals to all fans. Why can't we make one like that?