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  1. Bucs

Hey, Bucs, the fan experience can just be gender neutral

The Bucs today announced the launch of its RED program, a new "Buccaneers Women's Movement" that will "reinvent the female fan experience."  [buccaneers.com/red]
The Bucs today announced the launch of its RED program, a new "Buccaneers Women's Movement" that will "reinvent the female fan experience." [buccaneers.com/red]
Published Aug. 6, 2015

Ladies, I know we were all wondering how we were ever going to make it through another NFL season chock-full of complicated rules, or without knowing what the numbers in the little black box in the end zone mean. But have no fear, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have our backs.

Or so they think.

On Thursday, the team announced the launch of its RED program, a new "Buccaneers Women's Movement" that will "reinvent the female fan experience."

What was wrong with the experience we had before?

By launching RED — which plans to provide "year-round educational experiences" where we can learn how to "blend personal Buccaneers pride with the latest NFL fashions" — the Buccaneers are trying to engage their female audience. But they're doing little more than pushing it away with sexist assumptions.

Providing educational experiences — including an explanation of the play clock, RED's "term of the week" — specifically geared toward women implies that they are the only ones who need to learn a thing or two about the rules of the game. And that women could only be interested in the sport when it intersects with things that are generally thought of as feminine.

I don't blame the Buccaneers for wanting to acknowledge their female audience. The gap between male and female viewership of NFL games is decreasing, and 54 million women tuned in to watch the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Patronizing nearly half of its audience and perpetuating gender stereotypes, however, is not the way to do it.

Admittedly, I'm probably not the kind of woman the Buccaneers are trying to target in the first place. Watching football on a Sunday afternoon was a non-negotiable family activity in my household growing up. And the love for sports that was instilled in me at a young age carried over to my profession.

It's not uncommon for me to be the only woman covering a sporting event, and the press box is the only public place in which I've never had to wait in line for the bathroom.

But just because men, on average, watch and attend sporting events in higher numbers, doesn't mean that women have simply been bystanders, only there to look pretty in a pink, bejeweled jersey.

In a news release sent out by the team Thursday, Glazer Family Foundation co-president Darcie Glazer Kassewitz said the goal of RED is to "celebrate our female fan base."

After this stunt, forgive us if we're not behind you throwing pewter and red confetti.

Kelly Parsons covers high school sports for the Times. And, yes, she's fully capable of following the action without a man breaking it down for her.

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