On Tuesday, AL.com published a piece about an event coming up this Thursday called "Girls of Fall: Food, Fashion and Fun." It's a gathering in Mobile, Alabama, for people who don't know enough about football but want to learn more about the sport and perhaps how to throw the best football party. It is a gathering for people like women, actually, because as author David Holloway noted in the opening sentence of his piece, "Football can be a confusing and often vexing concept, especially for women."
According to Romenesko, the article was quickly amended after it became a bit of a Twitter sensation so that it now reads "Football can be a confusing and often vexing concept" with no mention to the gender of the person who might be confused by the sport. The post now has this clarifying remark at the bottom:
This story has been edited to remove incorrect and offensive assumptions about women and football. We apologize for the error in judgment.
The rest of the piece contains no real references to this event being particularly "female-friendly", except if you're reading into the connection between a woman's place being in the home, hosting parties and the emphasis on the party aspect of a football game. "Girls of Fall" must be a notable event, however; while Holloway wrote his piece for the Food section, another article on "Girls of Fall" was published just the day before in the Sports section of AL.com. The latter piece includes a quote from Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage who helped organize the event. (For those women reading who don't like football, the Senior Bowl is an all-star college football game played in the off-season.) Savage explained the event not much differently than Holloway had done in the original lede in his piece:
"This is for the wife or girlfriend," Savage said, "that maybe the man is really into the game, and she wants to know more so she can enjoy it more when they go to a game or they're watching on television. At the same time, this is for the mom whose kid is playing youth football or high school football, and they want to know more about it. What position is he playing? What are his responsibilities? What to really look for.
The name of the event is apparently a reference to a Kenny Chesney song about football players and Savage says he got the idea for the event because hosting "Football 101s for women" is a bit of a trend right now:
"We don't want to make it too complicated for those that really don't know a lot about the game," Savage said, "yet we don't want to make it so simple that those that do know something about the game walk away saying, 'Well, I already knew that.'
"It doesn't really matter what level of the game they know, I think they'll come away knowing more about it."
Coincidentally, this tactic as employed by the minds behind the Senior Bowl is also being taken on by NBCUniversal, who is hoping to make Sunday Night Football amenable to women outside of the Mobile, Alabama area. Variety reports that the media company is changing its marketing campaign this year, featuring ads across their properties (like E!) with everyone from Heidi Klum to Joan and Melissa Rivers to the team of Today. In each ad, the stars attempt to sing the Sunday Night Football theme song.
“Our goal is to be as welcoming and as broad as we possibly can,” said John Miller, chief marketing officer of NBC Sports Group. Indeed, he expects the new series of promos to appeal to women as well as the usual male crowd that usually tunes in for football.
The word "inclusive" is used by another executive, because this is all an attempt to assure that Sunday Night Football "remains the number-one show in television,” said Miller.
Though NBC's tactic might be far subtler than AL.com's original quite accurate description of the intention of the Senior Bowl's event, the purpose and motivation for all actors is the same: make more money by harnessing the spending power of women.
Image by Sam Woolley, source via Iwona Grodzka/Shutterstock.