Mr. Simon Borg
420 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10018
I am writing with regards to your comments concerning female soccer fans around the 59′ mark in the May 2, 2012, edition of the ExtraTime Radio podcast on MLSsoccer.com. Since the podcast itself has been edited to remove said comments — and just in case you’ve managed to forget what you said during recording — I’ve provided the quote below:
It’s fine if you’re a female and you want to be a super-fan. Clearly go for it, that’s your choice. But there is something to be said for how appealing that might be to the other sex. Having a woman that’s such a fan, like painting your face, tuning in to every podcast. I don’t know how many males would be into that.
It’s great that in Kansas City there are a lot of women in the stands, it’s great, but for the guy who wants maybe a serious relationship… If you are following just casually, but if you’re such a die-hard, I don’t know, it comes a point that it is a bit of a turn-off. (source)
Where to start, where to start. Oh, I know… that was a pretty sexist statement. Effectively, you’re saying that it’s not really socially acceptable for women to be “super-fans”, or at the very least that it’s not “appealing.” You know what else used to be unappealing for women? Voting, being in the work place, and wearing jeans. Perhaps you’d like it better if we could wind back the clock to the good ol’ days before women’s suffrage was ratified, where ladyfolk wore respectable, floor-length dresses and they knew their role was to let their husbands enjoy an MLS match without being bothered by her cumbersome yapping.
Last time I checked, ExtraTime isn’t a league-sponsored dating advice podcast. It’s an MLS-centric and soccer podcast, so perhaps we can stick to commentary that’s along those subject lines. Even if your show was about dating, your comments could best be described as terrible advice. Isn’t it awfully presumptuous on your part to assume that not that many males would be into a females that are “die-hard” soccer fans? You confirmed that’s not what your into, but I can guarantee that there are plenty of guys who are.
In fact, one of the multitude of reasons I decided to marry my wife was due to her being an ardent soccer fan prior to the two of us even meeting. I liked that I didn’t have to take her to her first MLS match (never mind her 20th or 30th), that she played and continues to play soccer, and that I didn’t have to explain to her the difference between club football and international football. She has her own opinions about the sport independent of mine, and we’ve even had heated arguments spawn out of conversations about who should be in Tottenham’s starting eleven on match days. To be honest, I had to marry a girl like her just because she understands my passion for and need to write about the beautiful game.
However, my biggest problem with all of your comments, Mr. Borg, is that you’re not just some small-minded journalist writing for a mid-sized, Midwestern city’s newspaper or blogging at some underexposed blog from the same portion of the country (ahem). No, you write and talk on the league’s official website. Which means you’re technically on the league’s payroll, and therefore represent their interests. And whether you believe it or not, your influential position means you can help to shape the thoughts and ideals of your listeners and readers. That makes statements like these extremely dangerous.
I can guarantee you that MLS wants those female fans just as much as the men, and I’d imagine a short walk up to Don Garber’s office will confirm as much. Their tickets and replica gear cost just as much as their male counterparts, after all.
And if you think about it for a minute, female MLS fans could potentially be even more valuable than male. They’ll bring not just themselves to the game, but could also potentially lure admirers to attend — men have done far worse to earn a woman’s admiration — or bring an army of children to games too. Soccer mom’s are a powerful demographic, or so the story goes.
So next time your on air and the topic of conversation swings in a similar direction where your personal opinion on non-soccer matters could come in to play, stop and think for a moment. Otherwise, you should probably get used to pulling that foot out of your mouth.
Wrong Side of the Pond