ESPN is revving up its fantasy football engines for the new season. And they have come up with a different way to attract more women to their game.
Adweek is reporting that the ESPNW portion of ESPN’s website has hired the Sisters Williams, who also produce the Her Fantasy Football Podcast for “levelheaded people who love Fantasy Football but don’t want it as their second job.” The podcast, and the article that will appear on ESPNW uses a different ranking system for its fantasy players; they use terminology that correlates to relationships rather than traditional terms.
“That’s why we have a simple relationship-based rating system that cuts through all of the clutter,” the sisters wrote. “LeSean McCoy and Calvin Johnson are two of the very best players in the game, so we consider them ‘Marriage Material’ (elite players). Arian Foster and Andre Johnson? ‘Boyfriend Potential’ (terrific catches). Wes Welker and Vernon Davis—’It’s Complicated’ (pretty good placeholders until you find something better). And so on.”
It kind of tweaks the meaning of “fantasy player.”
It seems like a bit of a stretch that ESPN would have to resort to such behavior. First, ESPN produces numerous short, concise videos to help explain what fantasy football is and how it works. It may also be folly for ESPN to think this is the only way to reach women.
Football doesn’t need that much help getting women’s attention. Currently, 46 percent of all NFL fans are women—and 63 percent of women 12 and older say they love the game. While according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association only 20 percent of Fantasy Football players are women, that number is increasing rapidly. Even the NFL has come to realize women want jerseys and what not, and they want the same offerings men get, just in more appropriate sizes. They also realize that the majority of women want color options other than pink.
Bustle.com is reporting that this concept of “translating” for easier understanding is unnecessary. “If ESPN wants to appeal to women, that’s great. But the solution is not to remake their existing content with an added mix of sexist stereotypes. They could just try things like including more actual women in their regular content, paying more attention to women’s sports, maybe even — gasp — unambiguously condemning the violence against women done by some professional athletes, and just generally acting like women can be a normal part of your audience. This shouldn’t actually be hard, guys.”
The NFL season, for both women and men, starts Thursday, September 4, when the Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers