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Study says women watch sports only to make husbands happy

July 16, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
The L.A. Times ran a story earlier this month claiming that married women watch sports like football, basketball and NASCAR mainly to please their husbands or boyfriends.

They based this claim on a study that appeared in the journal Communication, Culture and Critique. The 19 women who were surveyed – all married women in their early 20s to early 40s –said the sports they watch for fun are short, condensed events like the Olympics or sports like gymnastics and figure skating. Most apparently don't like to watch women's sports.

This is considered a bit of a quandary because Title IX, legislation passed 40 years ago, was supposed to increase interest in women's sports. The legislation banned discrimination based on gender in schools and universities and required equal opportunities in sports for women and men. There are a lot more girls and women playing sports but apparently fewer women who are actually fans of those sports the way men are.

None of this surprises me overly, since sports bore me. I exercise for my health, not for any particular pleasure, and I instantly reach for the remote if I see that Monday night football is on. I rarely read the sports page, unless it's something I might be required to cover. I actually do know the rules for basketball, having briefly (and badly) played on a team as a child, but I don't see anything that interesting about that sport either.

If I watch the Olympics at all, I will probably watch the women's gymnastics and perhaps the platform diving competitions. How stereotypical of me! I like sports like gymnastics and figure skating and platform diving because they are pretty and rather artistic and there are individual gymnasts to root for.

I think a study based on 19 women is pretty unscientific, but I wonder if they're on to something there. Are women just less interested in watching team sports in general? And what does that mean for girls that want to play in the big leagues?


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