Despite the title of this entry I am not going to make sweeping generalizations about male fans. because sweeping generalizations are bad--very bad. Instead I am going to relate an incident I observed this past weekend and offer a brief analysis.
I went to a women's Big Ten volleyball match. Not a big crowd but very enthusiastic. Arriving shortly after the first serve (is there a volleyball equivalent to tip-off or faceoff?) were two men I had seen at women's softball games the previous spring. Both were wearing rather offensive (sexist/homophobic t-shirts) which initially made me wonder why they support women's sports at all--an incongruity to analyze another time. Both cheered but one was cheering in a different sort of way. He was, essentially, coaching. He would tell players, by calling out their numbers, what they needed to do: "Number 5 you need to set up the pass." Most obnoxious was that whenever a home team player went to the line to serve he yelled where she should serve: "Go short left" and "Hit deep middle."
Umm...they have a coach, dude. Do you really think they are going to listen to you yelling from the crowd in such a manner that everyone--including the receiving team--can hear? No--they are going to follow the covert, behind-the-clipboard signals made by their coach. I should note here that it is a female head c0ach. Perhaps the fan thought he could do a much better job.
Why couldn't he have just cheered when things went well or groaned when points were lost like the rest of us? Why the need to dictate (but not really) play? Is this a way for men to exert control (whether real or illusional) over women's sports since it is pretty clear they can't get rid of them? I don't want to be a separatist but if this is the way some men (yes only some--not all) are going to support women's athletics then maybe they shouldn't be there at all.