I’m putting it out there right away. I don’t like pink jerseys, hats and other official team gear targeted toward female fans. I’m not talking about promotional items related to the Breast Cancer Awareness efforts of professional teams. I’m talking about the cutesy, pink, bedazzled jerseys that marketers somewhere think women sports fans want to wear.
I thought I was in the minority until I read a column by my Her Game Life colleague, Deepi Sidhu, which ended up on the front page of CNN.com this week. In her column, "Confessions of a Female Football Fan," Deepi says, "I like pink and I like jerseys but I absolutely abhor pink jerseys. Wear your team’s true colors."
Amen, girlfriend, I thought. And when I posed the question to other female sports fans, the responses I received were overwhelmingly against the pink jersey. I am definitely NOT in the minority, it appears.
"It screams ‘my boyfriend bought this for me’."
"Women who wear pink jerseys aren’t true fans. They just want to look cute at the stadium where they are clueless about what sport they are actually watching."
"Leave the pink bedazzled jerseys to the 12-and-under crowd."
"If you’re going to wear the jersey, wear the team colors. Period."
"The cheerleaders don’t wear pink, they wear the team colors. Why would manufacturers think ladies need pink?"
My friend Karen’s husband, a die-hard Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox fan, calls anyone who leaves early from a game "the pink hats," whether or not they’re actually wearing one. If that doesn’t make the pink jersey/hat phenomenon synonymous with a fair-weather or reluctant fan, I don’t know what does!
I understand that professional sports teams are trying to tap into the female audience – and our wallets – but I strongly argue that the old "pink it and shrink it" strategy is not the way to go. From my quick bit of research, female sports fans – me included – find it condescending and demeaning. Instead, we want fashionable gear that is cut to fit women’s bodies and that shows we support our team -- IN OUR TEAM’S COLORS! Why can't they figure that out?
So you can imagine my dismay when a friend who coaches his daughter’s soccer team told me that he was having pink t-shirts with the club logo made for all the moms on his daughter’s competitive soccer team—whose team colors are blue and gold. After making sure I was still breathing, I asked, "Did you ASK the moms if they wanted these shirts?" His response, "No, but I figured they would rather wear pink than blue and gold." Really? "Why do you think that?" I asked? He had no answer.
He thinks that because the professional sports marketers – mostly men – have forced the pink jerseys on women, whether we want them or not. How? By marketing to other men – the boyfriends, the husbands, and now the coaches – who buy them for women, not to the women themselves.
So everyone: please stop pinking with me and my fellow sports moms. Keep your pink jerseys, t-shirts, hats, and visors. Give us gear in our team's colors that fits and flatters us and lets us feel good and look good while we cheer our team--from our child's soccer or Little League team to our college teams to our favorite professional sports team.