The Marginalization of Female Sport Fans
Victoria K. Gosling
Sport is historically a male cultural practice. It is (and it seems always has been) predominantly played and watched by men. However, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of female participants in, and fans of, sport. With women's sport participation on the increase, coverage of sport in the mass media is rising, and with some changes in relation to gender roles and expectations, it is becoming more common to find women with an interest in, or even a passion for, sport. However, women continue to be marginalized both in fan communities and in academic research and literature on sport fans. What little has been written on female sport fans has been produced mostly in relation to changes in the nature of sport audiences, and more specifically, the rise in number of female fans has often been viewed as evidence of the embourgeoisification of certain sports (such as soccer in the UK) and the marketing of these to more middle-class, family-based audiences. In an earlier paper Crawford and Gosling (2004) suggest that there exists little consideration of women's everyday experiences of being a sport fan, limiting our understanding of what being a sport fan means to many women. Building on this earlier paper, this chapter offers a critical consideration of the existing literature on female sport fan culture, and in doing so, offers a basis for future research into the everyday experiences and identities of female sport fans. This chapter, drawing on existing literature and our work on British ice hockey fans, therefore considers the case of female fans of sport and their continued marginalization from sport and supporter communities.