Men have historically drawn the lines around sports as male territory. Female encroachment is viewed with suspicion by some. For these gatekeepers, fandom is not measured by affection or loyalty toward a team, but by knowledge of its statistics, plays and history.
It is one thing to be home with a bunch of friends and debate and discuss about the latest in Bollywood, party circuit, office gossip, but completely another to be discussing the latest in sports. The weirdness is thrown to an altogether new level when you realize that the girls are not only involved in these debates but also holds on to their own.
Over the course of 3 years, I’ve overseen debates with women arguing about the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, and more. When I say debate, it’s exactly that. They know exactly who’s playing for whom, where the games are being held, the personalities of their team, the whole thing. It truly is a sight to sit back and stare at watching a female vent and erupt at the sight of her favorite team’s batsman is giving up, or a bowler not bowling well , or anything that suggests he isn’t doing his job. I’d go so far to say there aren’t too many feelings better than that.
Cricket will always be my first love, and for any man who has a particular sport as their first love, you can ask that same man how he feels when he sees an woman share a similar passion for the game and can break it down to a T. During the last IPL season, you had female cricket fans who were just as invested into the games as the guys were. They’d cheer on their team, cuss out a player, motivate them, and anything else it took to be a part of the game, and do so in an authentic way.
So, why is it that this still small group of female fans looked in a different light? Why do they have to prove their interest in the game each time they want to be involved in the game? Why are they subjected to questions about their knowledge each time they speak of their love for the game / sports? Why is it acceptable for a guy to have an opinion on soaps & reality shows and not acceptable for a woman to have an opinion on why Raina should be picked over Rohit??
As a heavy cricket season is around the corner, I’m sure there are going to be loads of friends turning up at my place or vice-versa. I, for one would like the female participation to go up during these meets. Let us create our own fantasy leagues, let us have your perspective on why Dale Styn should play for CSK, discuss why is SA a better cricket team than England etc etc.
Go ahead, make the hardest guy smile, make a grown man cry. We will not insult your intelligence by asking you to name the playing eleven. Let us leave the name game for the college kids. Let us enjoy the sports season together and derive equal pleasure out of it. Let us enjoy cricket the same way we enjoy the 9 am show on a Sunday. Let us discuss the game just the way we discuss Rahman Sir’s music.
Thanks in advance for all female sports fans (my wife, in particular) for enhancing the sports experience of everyone involved.