The real female sports fan

Pictured: Daniela Marulanda, writer for the Daily Campus.  In this article she discusses redefining what it means to be a female sports fan.  (File photo/ The Daily Campus)

I’ve met a lot of women who happen to love sports.

I’ve met a lot of women who know more about their team or sport than anyone else. I’ve met women who, every game day, are the loudest and proudest person to be wearing their team’s jersey. I’ve met women who are casual fans and enjoy sports.

Too bad they are always doubted or, in many cases, ignored and portrayed as eye candy during the game.

I grew up in Colombia, so soccer was just something I grew up loving and being a part of.

Too bad I never see myself represented in it.

Not as a coach, assistant, medical staff member or reporter and even, most of the time, as a fan. Maybe that’s why, when I was growing up going to an all-girls school, it felt weird – almost embarrassing –  that I liked sports.

It feels even worse when you do a quick Google search of “women soccer fans” and all you find is pictures of women in really tight jerseys, posing for the camera.

Is this wrong? No. I am not trying to say they are less of fans than those women who dress differently. But they are certainly not a good representation of women sports fans as a whole.

Two weeks ago, I came across the work of Laura Blake and Amy Drucquer, two English photographers who took on the project of finding the real female supporter.  They traveled across England to different soccer stadiums to photograph women who went to cheer on their teams.

You could see older women with Everton scarfs, a darker skin woman with West Ham jersey and a woman in a hijab wearing an Arsenal jersey.

This is a different picture than what you see on Google.

During the World Cup, camera operators seem to spend an awful lot of time looking for the next eye candy. Galleries with the title “Hottest female sport fans in the 2014 World Cup,” are not uncommon.

And again, is this wrong? Perhaps not, but I know it does paint a picture that these women are not real sport fans, and are merely there as a sidebar to the main event.

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA, pictured during a professional soccer game.  (Daniela Marulanda/ The Daily Campus)

As a female sports fan, you tend to fall into these stereotypes. That’s something I refuse to do.

Women aren’t here to be a sideshow for the game. Women are not trying to impress any guy or be one of the guys.

They just love sports.

They feel so deeply about something that they would spend hours watching whatever game is on. They look up stats, keep up with the transfer rumors and analyze games in their heads afterward.

I am one of them, and that’s why I’m choosing a career where, wherever I look, I barely see anyone like me.

I love sports. I’m a real sports fan. Period.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.