Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Female Fans Stand by NFL, If Uncomfortably

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Female Fans Stand by NFL, If Uncomfortably

Article excerpt

CHICAGO * Mary Jo Kane, a lifelong Chicago Bears fan and college professor, settles in to watch a football game and finds herself taking a tally of the players one she'd rather not do, but can't help.

Have any of these guys committed a crime? Tried to strangle a wife? Knocked one out? Beaten a child?

The NFL has an image problem. Some would say it's at a moral crossroads as focus on abuse allegations against players and the league's response to them intensifies.

Some women have been among the most vocal NFL detractors. The National Organization for Women has called for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to resign. Yet female NFL fans even those such as Kane who are stinking mad about the abuse and the way the league has handled it continue to watch.

Why?

The question could be posed to any football fan, female or male. But dissecting the relationship of the female NFL fan with the league reveals an already complicated union one that, despite this uncomfortable chapter, runs deep.

Many female fans grew up watching football with their families. Sometimes, it was a point of bonding, perhaps with a father or a brother. So fans such as Lisa Welch, 21, can't really imagine a life without the NFL.

"I was raised in a household where we watched football every Sunday," says Welch, who notes that this wasn't the case for her mother's generation.

Now a senior at the University of Minnesota who's majoring in sports management, Welch still has a dream of working for her beloved Chicago Bears. She had been relieved the controversy hadn't embroiled her team until 2008 allegations against receiver Brandon Marshall resurfaced in a news conference by his ex-girlfriend's father this week.

Samantha Robinson is a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, whose defensive end Ray McDonald is facing charges that he hit his pregnant fiance. The team has not benched him.

She's all for players who are guilty of crimes being punished. But Robinson, 25, who works in public relations in her team's city, also says she refuses to let the actions of a few spoil the game.

"I think it's just bigger than football," Robinson says. …

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