The L.A. Dodgers are currently experimenting with a marketing program that aims to reach out to female fans by offering such fare as yoga nights and "Stitch N' Pitch" evenings at the ballpark. But is it really necessary?
It's not as if baseball is suffering from a lack of women in the stands; as Stephanie Sy of ABCNews notes, "female fans make up more than 45 percent of MLB fans, more than any other professional sport." So the focus on women, it seems, is less about attracting them to the sport and more about cashing in on their fandom by offering "female friendly" programs and perks.
Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt, a woman, has set up a program called "Dodgers WIN" which stands for "Women's Initiative Network," and bills itself as "a network of initiatives designed to bring women closer to the game of baseball, and to integrate baseball into women's lifestyles." So far, the program has offered the aforementioned yoga night, and Stitch N' Pitch session, and according to Sy, "at all home games, a WIN tent is erected where soap stars and other celebrities make appearances." There are also Dodgers WIN broadcasts every Wednesday, hosted by Jeannie Zelasko, that cater specifically to women.
Does this strike anyone else as a pink hat on steroids? Sure, I understand that teams (and advertisers) would want to reach out to women, but it's a bit insulting that they think female baseball fans need yoga nights, female-specific broadcasts (whatever that means) and soap opera stars to get excited about the big game. I don't go to a baseball game to do yoga or knit or meet the cast of Days of Our Lives, I go to a baseball game to watch a baseball game.
If the Dodgers, and the MLB, really want to "integrate baseball into women's lifestyles," perhaps they should recognize that for many women, going to the game, drinking a beer, and crying for hours on end (I'm a Mariners fan) is already a perfectly acceptable lifestyle, and we don't need to be pandered to to head to the park and have a good time. McCourt appears to have good intentions, in that she really does seem to want to get women to feel more connected to the game, but a quote she gave Sy, "I always say that behind every man is a woman with her checkbook," makes me a bit wary.
McCourt says that the money brought in by WIN might "eventually be donated to women's charities," and if that's the case, it's a horse of a different color, in that I wouldn't mind a night dedicated to raising money for a good cause. But until then, I'm skeptical of the real motivations here, and I fear it's just another attempt to slap a pink label on something and sell it to "the ladies." Sometimes, the best way to reach your fans is to just treat them like fans, regardless of their gender.