Today I was giving a talk at a local Rotary Club, which I enjoyed very much. It’s fun to talk about my work and (try to) translate it into interesting information for those outside academia. The questions I get are varied and always thought provoking.
The talk pertained to how to develop physically active girls and mentioned the importance of increasing the number of female coaches in youth sport—which is less than ~20%. One attendee asked me if we are to increase the number of female coaches aren’t we assuming that women WANT to coach and like sports enough TO coach? (this is the stuff of another blog…stay tuned). He wondered if I knew of any data about the percentage of females who “support” and attend sport events. I didn’t know off the top of my head, so I looked it up (See Table).
The answer to his question is “Yes!” women do consume, attend and support sports. Not in equal numbers as do men, but in higher numbers than I think is normally assumed. Notably, females attend the WNBA most frequently and one-third of fans at NFL and NBA games are women. Given recent attention to women’s basketball and the viability and sustainability of the WNBA, those in charge of marketing the WNBA should pay attention to the fact that half of their fan base are women. (I’m sure they are well aware of this fact and then some) But the $1,000,000 question is—How do you market to female sport consumers effectively? I don’t think we’ve got this formula quite right… yet. But I think one reason links back to the question posed to me this morning. I think far too often it is assumed that females aren’t as interested in sports as are men. I also think it is assumed the strategies used to market to sport-loving men, will work with sport-loving women. I hope for the sake of the new WPS and the WNBA that someone who knows a lot more about sport marketing can help us get it right.