Major League Baseball and a company called Pandora Jewelry have teamed up to create a line of charms/charm bracelets for each of the 30 MLB clubs. Since my birthday is coming up, I just wanted to make it clear to all involved that I do not want a Cleveland Indians charm bracelet for my birthday. Or Christmas. Or any time, actually.
Officials from both organizations are quoted as saying things like “Men aren’t the only ones who watch sports these days, women are huge sports enthusiasts as well.” and “Women comprise almost half of baseball’s fan base and we are continuously seeking creative and fashionable ways to appeal to such a significant audience.” They say this as though they just now noticed that women watch baseball. Actually, we’ve been watching it for a while now. Since before Title IX. Maybe they were home watching the kids while their husbands went to the game, but they were paying attention. In her great book, Breaking Into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, Jean Ardell notes a 1957 joint survey by the Red Sox that showed 27% of the fans at Fenway were female. A few years later, a survey by the Baltimore Orioles found that 55% of the women in that city followed baseball on TV. Just because they can’t always make it to the ballgame in person doesn’t mean women aren’t fans. Female baseball fans aren’t a new thing. Pandering to them, however, is a relatively recent development.
This jewelry collection isn’t MLB’s first attempt at cross promoting shiny pretty things to female fans. MLB and Victoria’s Secret teamed up a few years for the MLB Pink Collection. Apparently the assumption is that two X chromosomes make you genetically unable to resist baubles and the color pink. And we all know you should never assume.
Creating baseball gear “for women only” assumes that, in this binary world of ours, there are only two ways to enjoy baseball–a male way and a female way. That is limiting to both genders.
There are as many different ways to enjoy baseball as there are baseball fans. Look around the ballpark. Some people keep score. Some go to see something that’s never happened before. Some go because it’s a time to connect with a friend. Some go because they like to get drunk in public. Some go because they like listening to the sounds of the ballpark. Some bring their earbuds because they want Tom Hamilton in their ear at all times. Some go because they don’t like the televised game. Some go to entertain clients. Some go because their kid or spouse loves the game. Some go because they think “that one player” is cute. Some go because they just want to get out of the house. Why and how you appreciate the game isn’t based on gender so much as it is on personality.
If you really want to cater to female fans, just make sure the restrooms are clean and that some of the affordable T-shirts fit us. The bathroom and the shirts don’t need to be stinking pink. When you paint all female fans with the same brush, you end up with cheesey events like this one, held by the Houston Astros. Let’s not go there.
So no Indians charm bracelet for me. And no pink shirts. But if anyone has an old Andre Thornton T-shirt hanging around, I’m your girl.