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Men’s Jerseys and Women’s Soccer

My parents came over for dinner on Sunday. As the meal was being prepared, they watched the final game in the FIFA Women’s Wold Cup – U.S. vs. Japan. I don’t do sports, so I paid almost not attention, but two things caught my attention. First, Japan won. Way to go ladies! Second, in between shouting at the TV and practically jumping out of her seat, my mother made a stray comment regarding the “scandal” about men’s-sized women’s soccer jerseys.  Whoa, what scandal?  I’m the snoopy, inquisitive type, so I asked my friend Google what this scandal was all about. I found little on the Internet (oh, the scandal!) except this one article at The Wall Street Journal. Apparently when Nike designed the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team jerseys, they failed to make a version in men’s sizes for retail sale. What The Fried Pickles? Now, I told you already I don’t do sports, so please forgive my sports naiveté, but follow me here…  I have seen women’s sports fan attire, ranging from things that resemble negligees to oversized house coats, for every men’s sport I could imagine and some I’ve never heard of. Okay, I can accept that there are millions of ways for women to show their fandom of men’s sports team. Men’s sports have had a huge following since the last ice age. In recent years, though, women’s sports have been getting increasingly more attention and more and more followers (for me, the non-sports chick, to even know that, you gotta know its true). I get that there won’t be as many jerseys for sale for male fans of women’s sports to wear compared to the number of jerseys for female fans of, say, the Dallas Cowboys… but none? Not a single one? To make matters worse, the women’s jerseys available for purchase are cut and tailored to fit women, so some male fans could not even wear an XXL women’s jersey.

While I think the intentional exclusion of men’s sized jerseys for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team is bad, that’s not the real issue I have. It’s the thought process (or lack thereof) behind the exclusion that bothers me. Is it so inconceivable that men would be fans of a women’s sports team that Nike couldn’t even be bothered to make a men’s line of fan jerseys? Did Nike think that men wouldn’t take the Women’s World Cup seriously enough to actually want to buy a jersey? Or did Nike really think there was no market for men’s-sized jerseys? Whatever the reason, this failure on Nike’s part just gives us another example of a male-dominated culture not taking women’s contributions seriously. I think this undervalues the amazing accomplishments of the women on both the American and Japanese soccer teams, and I say, shame on you, Nike!

What say you, Persephoneers?

2 replies on “Men’s Jerseys and Women’s Soccer”

That is astoundingly sexist. At the very least they could have produced a small run of the men’s jerseys to see how they sold!!!

It happens in reverse, too, with male-led sports clubs assuming that they have no female fans (or that their fans only want things in pink). The rugby club of which I am a supporter got into hot water last year for only having one jersey for female fans, despite having a huge range of men’s ‘leisurewear’ and jerseys in both home and away colours. Moreover, the women’s jersey that they did produce is astoundingly badly cut – it’s like they took the kid’s jersey and just made it wider and shorter. I wear it anyway, but it’s obscenely tight around my boobs and super loose around my waist. Today, if you go to their website you can buy a jersey… and a polo shirt. So, win? As opposed to the huge range of men’s clothing. It’s such a wasted opportunity to make money off idiot fans like me.

This is the first I’ve heard of it, but I would assume that Nike did not make that decision lightly. Companies have a lot of marketing research that goes into their planning.

Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if the issue isn’t the lack of male fans for the female sport, but a general distaste for men dressing in ‘womens clothes’ or dressing as a woman. I think it’s taken to an extreme when applied to sports jerseys, but it might keep some men from even looking to buy a jersey.

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