I don’t think I’ll be travelling to Atlanta or Minneapolis to watch baseball anytime soon, and it’s not just because both cities are low on the list of places I’d next like to visit.
Their professional baseball teams, the Braves and Twins, respectively, plan ladies night promotions this season aimed at boosting women’s attendance at their home games.
Luring fans with the promise of free tchotchkes isn’t new among the professional sports leagues. Bobblehead dolls and t-shirts have been part of free in-game giveaways and ticket-buying incentives for years.
But the promise of a free feather boa (!!!) or a chance to sip Barolo at the ballpark suggests that women need to be targeted in different ways in order to pique their interest in sport.
And sure, maybe a group of friends would take advantage of a ladies night at a sporting event to try something different, rather than spend yet another evening at their usual bar or restaurant. But my guess is they would do so for the novelty, have little interest in baseball or the team specifically, and may never attend another game after.
Teams may see a boost in attendance when they offer free food or the chance to win big prizes. But what happens on days when they don’t? Who is left in the seats then? The real fans, that’s who.
And real fans can be men and women, who like attending live sports events, understand the game they are watching, and not only have a favourite team but know all the players, their injuries, the WAGS and all the other miscellaneous details that fans keep track of.
And yes, this can include women, too, who aren’t watching because their boyfriends or husbands are or they enjoy ogling fit men in tight pants. It’s because they grew up getting dusty on the baseball diamond themselves, or on skates or running track or on the ski hill. They may not have had the same big-league dreams as their brothers, but loved sport all the same.
Wrapping a woman in a feather boa stamped with the Braves logo isn’t going to make her a lifelong fan of Atlanta baseball.
Fans, all fans, are born from one thing, and it doesn’t come in the form of a gift with purchase. It’s the love of the game.