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Want female Bucs fans? Try treating them like just fans

Fans of the Buccaneers cheer their team on against the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 14, 2008 in Tampa.
Fans of the Buccaneers cheer their team on against the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 14, 2008 in Tampa.
Published Aug. 7, 2015

Full disclosure: I'm a girly-girl. And a feminist. And a sports fan. And I don't need all three to co-exist if I'm watching a football game.

Most college football Saturdays will find me clad in a decades-old 'Bama jersey, hair piled on top of my head and beer in hand — while the other hand clutches a remote that maybe (definitely) gets chucked in the vicinity of the TV after a boneheaded play.

Yep, little ol' female me understands the game. I love a good defensive battle. I love yelling at the refs. I love the mean mugging of coaches on the sidelines — and I don't give two thoughts about how I look while taking it all in.

And that doesn't negate the fact that I will drool over a pair of 5-inch shooties or that I have LOFT sale alerts buzzing my phone at all times of the day.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced their intent to "reinvent the female fan experience" I was intrigued … until I realized reinvention really meant throwback.

Aw, y'all are going to teach me how to throw parties and look cute while doing so? Send me back to the kitchen where women belong? And then I can share it on Pinterest, for the rest of my fellow Stepford Wives out there to emulate? Oh, sign me up … never.

Look, I get the intent of the program. I am well aware of the issues the NFL has had in regards to my gender, issues that make feminist me and sports editor me all kinds of ragey. I have no issue with providing "fans with year-round educational experiences focused on providing a better understanding of the game." If those "fans" include men, too.

Basically, the execution — much like the Bucs' onfield product of late — leaves a lot to be desired.

I've worked in sports media for more than a decade. I grew up playing tennis, and I am pretty sure my first words were "Roll Tide." I could probably school most of my past boyfriends on the intricacies of a football game. (Oh, who am I kidding? I have totally conducted my own form of Football for Dummies, with a dash of profanity. Ahem.)

My aunt once had a shrine to Jeff Gordon in her house. My girlfriends and I text each other after touchdowns on game day (no emojis allowed).

I don't claim to know everything about every sport out there, but I generally tend to enjoy the bulk of them without all the bells and whistles and style tips.

Want to really reinvent my fan experience? Make donations to domestic violence agencies. Prevent drunken idiots from feeling me up in the concession stand line. Add more women's bathrooms (and cleaner ones).

There are plenty of ways a team can show it is invested in female fans without those lovely side dishes of condescension and misogyny.

Traci Johnson coordinates high school coverage for the Tampa Bay Times and once threw a tennis racket at her mixed doubles partner — during a match. Duck if you meet her.

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