You might be able to pick us out in the pub. We're alongside those with eyes glued to the screen, holding our breath, crossing our fingers and cursing at the ref. With one small difference: We're female.
We're the ones listening to the match on the radio as we arrive late to a cousin's wedding or yelling "GOOOAAAL!" in an airport plane full of weary travelers. We're the ones surreptitiously checking our Blackberries and iPhones on the drive to work, minimizing the game on our work computers and pulling up something else like the Times or TMZ when our boss walks by.
We are not into the sport because our man is watching it, pretending to like it when we are actually bored to tears. In fact, many of us are more into sports than our better halves. (Though not in my case — that's what happens when you date a Scot.) In general, our hearts race at the ninth inning home run, the winning touchdown, and the goal scored in overtime. And this year, I was up at 6:30am to watch Mexico, the land of my ancestors, play host nation South Africa. We know the stats; we know the players and we hate the refs just like any other fan. And we are not in it just for the eye candy.
This year, in order to get more female viewership, the media trend is to focus on how "hot" the players are — a shirtless photo spread by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair comes to mind. The blogs — this one included — have taken a similar tactic, with many female-centered blogs focusing on shirtless photos of players or ad campaign for Bebe featured tarted-up models pouting in the goal, posing with a World Cup trophy while wearing heels.
I have to sigh, because for me, this isn't what it's about. For women like myself, we don't need extra reasons to support soccer or any other sport. Like our male counterparts, our love of the game is enough.
Yes, we can all admit that Ronaldo's abs can get out the toughest laundry stains, Drogba's pearly whites can melt the hardest hearts and Dempsey's thighs can crack walnuts, but that's not the only reason to watch. And for true fans of the sport, these elements have nothing to do with our interest. It's a given these warriors are in top physical condition. But the female who is a true fan is more interested in the competition offered by a player's physicality; this hold our attention for longer than the prospect licking chocolate off their perfectly toned bodies (aside: do you think Donovan prefers dark or milk chocolate?). Sure, many of these men are irrefutably attractive — and the "aren't they hot" approach is all in good fun, for the most part — but no one looks hot after missing a crucial penalty kick. And it's the penalty kick that really matters to us.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to my conspiracy theories about Messi's and Maradona's Hand of God goals.
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