Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What's wrong with being a cause?

Almost passed over yet another article about the bad economy and the effects on women's sports. You know, the one that invokes almost immediately the folding of the Houston Comets and the shaky pitch the WPS finds itself on.
Though much later in the article it is noted that the WPS needed to average 4,000 attendees per game to remain sustainable and in the first weeks of the season is averaging 6,000.
It is the LPGA actually that seems to be hit the hardest among women's sports and that is probably because they appeal to a different clientele. The hope among other women's sports is that the low cost of attending a game, tournament, or competition will draw people who are no longer willing to spend well over $100 for a family of 4 to attend a baseball game. The LPGA does not have those same advantages. And professional golf has always relied on high-end sponsorship because it is said to appeal to higher end customers--hence sponsorships by Rolex, Cadillac, etc. But in tough economic times those sponsors are not going to cut back on sponsorships where they do not feel they are getting the full bang for their buck. And women's golf falls into the category.
So most women's sports are holding their breath and crossing their fingers. Well so are a lot of people these days. And most agree that women's sports will get through this recession and certainly in better shape than if it had come a decade ago.
So yeah the growth of women's sports! This is certainly the sentiment expressed by Women's Sports Foundation CEO Karen Durkin. But she thinks it's because women's sports are not seen as part of the larger women's movement:
"We're no longer being positioned as a cause. That's very symbolic for the next frontier of women's sports."
Hmmm...you're the head of an organization that was created in the heyday of the Second Wave and your goal is make people forget that women's sports has anything to do with feminism. That's problematic. Especially because there is no future, no frontier in site that does not include patriarchy and thus a need for feminism. One might even be able to argue that women's sports needs feminism more than other venues. Or that a more obvious collaboration between feminist organizations and women's sports organizations could benefit both.
Do you have to identify as a feminist to enjoy women's sports? No. But it would be really nice if you did. (Especially if you are head of an activist organization that has "women" in the title.)


Diane said...

Durkin has obviously been hanging out too much with Billie Jean King.

ken said...

I was thinking the same thing as I read her comments.