NFL teams give female fans their own clubs

Verdell Blackmon showed up to a recent NFL game and left no doubt who she was cheering for this afternoon.

Blackmon’s hair, makeup, nails, and dress were bright blue, and Detroit Lions Women of the Pride was printed on her black shirt.

The Lions season ticket holder was one of 50 women from the Women of the Pride squad who attended a pre-game night at Ford Field and witnessed Detroit’s first victory in the season against Minnesota last month.

Earlier this season, the Women of the Pride had access to the turf before Detroit played in Green Bay and watched the game against the Packers on television at a club in Lambeau Field. The group will meet again later this month for a football clinic at Ford Field.

“Female fans aren’t recognized the way they should be in the NFL, and it’s about time that started happening,” Blackmon said. “We love our teams as much as the guys.”

The NFL is starting to recognize this.

More than half of the league’s 32 teams have female fan clubs, according to the NFL, and that doesn’t count Philadelphia and its annual Eagles Academy for Women.

“With women making up just under half of the NFL’s fan base, it’s so important for women, of all ages, to feel like they belong in football, whether it’s playing, coaching or in fandom, ”said Sam Rapoport, senior manager of the NFL. diversity, equity and inclusion. “While there is still work to be done in the league in this space, clubs that have programs for women and fan clubs for women are showing that representation matters and that women are and will continue to be an element. imperative of the NFL. “

The reigning Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, launched the Women of Red six years ago and more than 1,000 women attended a dedicated day of training camp.

Buccaneers co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, a champion of diversity and inclusion, has made the group a priority. The franchise made Rob Gronkowski, trainer Bruce Arians and general manager Jason Licht available to women for field exercises and question-and-answer sessions and did not charge a fee for the Women membership. of Red.

“This sport brings people together and we are very proud of the bonds we continually build with our female fans,” said Tara Battiato, vice president of community impact for the Buccaneers. “Whether it’s through our annual Women of Red events, or how the organization advances gender equality through women’s flag football, college scholarships and career development programs, we believe football is for everyone. “

In Detroit, female fans paid $ 129 for Women of the Pride membership and received a ticket to the game against the Vikings, as well as a pre-game reunion, other events and opportunities to meet. networking.

“It is important for us to reach our fans in any way we can and we have had the opportunity to tap into what is often an underserved and powerful subset of our base,” said Emily Griffin, vice-president. president of marketing for Lions.

Jacki Jameson was all-in when she received an email from the Lions, even though she lives far from Motor City.

“I drove 2.5 hours to get here and couldn’t be happier actually,” said Jameson, standing on the grass at Ford Field after gaining access to the Lions locker room. “It’s great to meet women who have the same love for sport as I do.

“It’s pretty wonderful that they are giving people this opportunity to go behind the scenes because there are a lot of female fans out there who honestly deserve the extra perks after being overlooked for so long.”

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