The World Cup is a big freakin' deal for soccer fans all over the globe, yet the media somehow manages to forget, as per usual, that women actually watch sports. Well, some women do - others just ruin everything.
Our first exhibit: A letter to the Telegraph by reader Nick, who feels bad for his "football widow" Sandra, but doesn't know how to handle having both a girlfriend and an interest in soccer. Sandra, he writes, "moaned her way through the [2006 World Cup] and resented how much time I spent watching matches." He wants her to just "take a chill pill" and "realize that I don't love her any less because I'm watching the odd game of footie." That's a tall order, Nick.
Resident "agony aunt" Sarah Abell gives Nick a little good advice (don't ignore your girlfriend entirely because there is a sporting event to be watched, take her on dates when you're not watching a game, let her know ahead of time that you're not available, etc) followed by an insane "guide" to surviving the World Cup. She tells the "football widows" to make a diary of matches in order to plan around their partner's television-watching schedule (though, anal-retentive as this is, I sort of wish I had thought of this while Lost was eating my brain). The rest of the list reads like a combination of Common Sense 101 and Advanced Micromanagement (or, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Matches). Except number 7: Buy your partner some snacks and drinks so that he has something to eat while he's ignoring you. Charming. Also, be sure not to ask stupid questions. Football fans hate that. And if he's all sulky because his team lost, cheer him up by wearing an shirt "with nothing underneath!" Don't know about you, but my boyfriend has seen me braless enough times that I can't imagine that this would give him a huge thrill. In case you didn't catch it already, the Telegraph has basically turned into a less enthusiastic (and alliteration-inclined) version of Cosmo.
And the stupid doesn't stop there. One of the more obnoxious trends of World Cup coverage is to focus on the WAGs. In this new, soccer-obsessed world, even ex-girlfriends can't catch a break. Take, for example, Elizabeth Minett, the former girlfriend of England's goalie Robert Green. Not one but two UK papers blamed Minett for Green's failure to save an easy shot in the match against the U.S. Some fans even reported seeing tears in his eyes as he walked off the field (perhaps that had more to do with the disastrous shot than the girlfriend he broke up with months ago?).
Finally, we have the objectification issue. Maybe it's because I'm an American, but I really don't get the whole WAG fascination. However, some people - who, USA Today remarks, prove that people really will bet on anything - decided to go the latent objectification route. Hence, Paddy Power and the WAG World Cup, which allows fans to place bets on the "sexiest" and "grumpiest" of the player's partners.
This is really all to say: It seems like no one really knows how to work women into their coverage of the World Cup. But I have a suggestion for sportswriters everywhere. Stop trying to force it, and just cover the goddamn game as though you truly believed there were fans of both sexes reading. Because, guess what? There are.
How To Keep Your Relationship Intact During The World Cup [Telegraph]
Did Break-Up With Toronto Model Haunt Besieged English Goalie? [The Star]
Robert Green Split From Elizabeth Minett Just Weeks Ago [Daily Mail]
Sexiest World Cup WAG? More Proof That You Can Bet On Anything [USA Today]