Photo: Peachy Green
You might be surprised how often the subject of football comes up at Birchbox HQ. But it does, and not just because Matt Field is a sports fanatic. As Katie Baker pointed out in the NY Times last weekend, 34 percent of the National League viewers are women. Anecdotally we can tell you that our staff has at least three die-hard female football fans (don’t even bring up the Jets around Katia – she’s still sad). And so, here’s Matt’s take on this weekend’s match up, and why you should care.
At 6:30 PM EST this Sunday night, people across the country will make the ages old pilgrimage towards their lazy boys and local taverns in preparation for Super Bowl XLV. Jerseys will be donned, copious hot wings will be eaten, the Black-eyed Peas will perform, and at the end of it all, one city – Pittsburgh, PA or Green Bay, WI – will rejoice, while the other will capitulate into a state of enduring melancholy, consoling itself only with the knowledge that “next year will be different.” So what?, many of you may be asking. Why does this matter to me?
Well, the answer is that, whether we like it or not, the Super Bowl, and football more broadly, have become an increasingly ubiquitous part of all of our lives. Last year, more than 100 million Americans tuned in to watch, roughly one-third of the population. This figure has grown steadily over past decades, to the point where it’s regularly the most-viewed television broadcast. What’s more surprising, however, is its increasing popularity among women. According to reports, women account for as much as 40% of the Super Bowl’s TV audience, a stat that is mirrored every Sunday during regular season games. For the female demographic 18-49, “Sunday Night Football” is now the third-most watched show in America, ahead of “Glee”, “Gossip Girl” and “American Idol.” In fact, Nielsen data indicates that growth in the number of women watching football significantly outpaces that of men (23% in the last two years). This shift in audience towards sexual equanimity has had far reaching effects on the game, from more gender-neutral advertising to more female reporters on the sidelines. Every October teams across the league sew pink ribbons onto their uniforms and wear pink cleats and helmet stickers in honor of breast cancer awareness, a show of support that is not as explicit in other major American sports leagues. So at 6:30PM on Sunday, when you start making your way to that sofa or bar-stool, whether you are a die-hard fan or an indifferent observer, know that you are not alone. You are part of the greatest spectacle in sports, one that welcomes all.