Jordi Scrubbings, our corespondent in charge of Rays affairs, is back with his latest take on the Raysiverse…

In late 2011, in an attempt to “bring a fresh look and feel in the delivery of content on TV and the digital platforms”, Fox Sports Florida took a page out of Maxim Magazine and created the “Fox Sports Girls”, a marketing device geared towards the 18-35 male demographic. These two 20-something attractive women joined the network to “guide viewers through the outstanding lineup of live games and programming”.

They might be amazingly nice, sweet, intelligence women off the air and away from Fox Sports Florida, but the Fox Sports Girls are a slap in the face to female sports fans everywhere. In a time where we have more female athletes than male athletes representing our country in the Olympics, for a major sports network to stoop to horrible female sports fan clichés to attract more male viewers and page views sets female fandom back at least 30 years. I would expect that from some of the sports blogs out there or perhaps an alcohol promoter, but not a regional sports network.

According to recent statistics, women make up 46% of baseball fans. For you non-math majors, that’s almost half. They are buying tickets, merchandise, and equipment. They are a growing part of the game at every level, from the playing to watching to reporting. They are no longer outsiders. To quote Wendy Thrum of SBNation,

“Some keep score at the game, while listening to the radio broadcast in their ears. Some have favorite players instead of favorite teams. Some can name every member of her team’s 40-man roster. Some can’t even name the starting rotation. Some love the Victoria’s Secret-inspired team gear. Some wouldn’t be caught dead in it, or in any gear that’s pink or sparkly.”

They are fans. And they come in all shapes, sizes, and interest levels.

But I can almost guarantee the Fox Sports Girls aren’t there to appeal to the female fan base. They are for the eyes of the other half of baseball fans. The ones who have been playing the sport for years, the ones who it has been socially acceptable to like baseball since the day they were born, the ones who stereotypically need no introduction or motivation to watch more sports. The ones with penises.

This is how Fox Sports Florida looks for “new and unique ways to create a deeper connection with our loyal and passionate fans”? By showcasing women on their website and asking them “What is the most important quality you look for in a man?”, “The celebrity or athlete you would most like to go out on a date with?”, and “What is more romantic flowers or chocolates?”. With so many women in the Florida sports fanbase, this line of questioning is completely embarrassing and uncalled for.

The coup de grace of chauvinistic shilling and in a move that I am surprised didn’t completely isolate their female viewers, in March of this year, Fox Sports Florida held a “Go to the HEAT Game with the FOX Sports Florida Girls Sweepstakes”. Yes, because that is exactly what female fans want to do: go to a basketball game with two girls known for being network eye candy.

What I find particularly insulting is that Fox Sports passed over so many great Florida-based female sports voices for women they only use for appearances and photo shoots. There are women out there that speak well on camera, do radio shows, write well, and know as much about sports as any man. In Tampa alone there are women such as Jenna Laine, Sarah Tyson, Roxanne Wilder, and Lynne Austin. Those are just off the top of my head. There are also dozens, if not hundreds, of women active on twitter and facebook contributing to sports conversations.

Florida in general has been an extraordinary launching pad for women to achieve success in sports media. Erin Andrews started in Florida; Pam Oliver went to Florida A&M; Tiffany Simons, current broadcast reporter for the New York Mets, sat next to me in class at Florida State; Jenn Sterger also went to FSU; MLB Social Media Coordinator Whitney Holtzman went to the University of Florida and worked as an intern with the Rays before getting her current gig; and of course, Laura McKeeman is the current broadcast reporter for the Rays and other Florida sports on none other than Fox Sports Florida. And there and have been many other women who have hosted radio shows or worked other jobs behind the scenes to foster the great Florida sports scene we hold dear.

(By the way, contrast the usage of the Fox Sports Florida Girls and McKeeman’s thoughts on her looks and her profession in this article. I’d like to ask McKeeman what she thinks of how her fellow sports media women are being used strictly for their appearance. Notice there are no questions on McKeeman’s Fox Sports page about her ideal man or whether she likes chocolate or not.)

I don’t know where Fox Sports Florida found Jordana and Annile. Like I said, they might be amazing women and great people, but I don’t think they are doing right by women by subjecting themselves to the whims of an obviously antiquated view of female sports fans. Optimally, I would like to see all women (and guys who support the cause) boycott Fox Sports Florida until they replace the Fox Sports Girls concept with women who are more than just glorified network mascots. Women who know sports and can talk about sports in more than just clichés and general questions.

Women who at least know how to hold a bat.

Tags

 
 

23 Comments

  1. maggie says:

    Thank you. They are an insult to all women, not just sports fans. Their attributes are obvious when their mouths are closed. We (women) cannot say these things, because it would sound like sour grapes. So, again, thank you.

  2. Rayalan says:

    HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED AND NFL GAME OR NBA GAME. DUH It is part of our culture.

  3. I don’t think the point of the Q & A on that web page was to offend female readership. I think it’s actually there because guys (who are probably 90% of that page’s visitors) really would like to know what an extremely hot woman’s responses are to that line of questioning. I don’t think most viewers of that page are interested in her political views or athletic resume. That said, I don’t disagree with what this article is saying, but these ladies have done nothing wrong and Fox Sports has the right to represent themselves the way they choose. I don’t think they’re the only sports programming out there hiring eye candy to attract more male viewership. And if your stats about female attendance are correct, maybe the intention was to increase more male interest in the Rays in general.

  4. don says:

    I was going to say…this is a spoof…..right?
    Well you got me, EVERY media outlet in the world, TV, radio,internet whatever has attractive mostly blond women “reading” the sports news..they know as much about or care as much about sports as my wife(she doesn’t know sh__)
    Thats media’s view on “what attracts viewers”, I’m sure if one station had a fat, shot putt olympian “reading”sports….
    Jordi would be the first to tune in

  5. bbmern says:

    Thank you for saying something about the sports girls. I agree with Maggie. And…the most annoying thing for me is the repetitive clip after the commercial ends.

  6. David says:

    I think the most demeaning thing is you are basing this entire article on the assumption that these girls are not worthy of their job because they are very attractive.

    Rays Index is awesome. This article is ridiculous.

    Dear Cork – I know you didnt write this but I leave you with this thought…you can build a thousand bridges…

    Keep up the good Rays insight, leave this trash elsewhere.

  7. Sarah says:

    Thanks, Jordi, for noticing that about half the people at any ballgame are women. I personally don’t care if Fox and other sports related industries promote themselves with women in tight fitting outfits – I’ve always assumed they do this because heterosexual men would otherwise start to feel self-conscious about spending so much of their time obsessing over men in tight fitting outfits (by which I mean the players, if that’s not clear). But they sure miss an opportunity to market to fans like me.

    If I were a man I’d be insulted that Fox thinks it can make me more interested in baseball by this kind of appeal — but clearly some men are difficult to insult.

    • ALLEN says:

      Baseball players aren’t wearing tight fitting outfits, neither do college or professional basketball players. Loose fitting clothes are much more comfortable and that’s what most people seem to wear. Rightly or wrongly, sex appeal has been used in media marketing for decades. I’m not offended by it, but I do find it kinda boring.

    • Andy says:

      Sarah, your comment literally made me LOL!!! Despite some protestions expressed here, I agree w/ur observation that the preponderance of the male viewers could tend to “feel self-conscious about spending so much of their time obsessing over men in tight fitting outfits”. Like Shakespeare said, “Methinks they protest too much”. However one describes the athletes’ uniforms, they can surely be quite pleasing/stimulating to the eye; Lord knows they have been to me – a Gay man!!! Admittedly, I have to use more imagination than they str8 men do w/the likes of the Fox girls, b/c the clothing industry seems to care rather minimally when it comes to attiring the female body.

      Case in point are the beach volleyball outfits – women in bikinis (weather permitting), & men in long shorts + t-shirts. Most sports have a similar disparity. Yes, this issue is far bigger than FoxSports, but awareness of it on whatever level is key to changing it!

      Thank you, Jordi, for exposing the stereotyping used on this sports channel & others like it!! The common ground they share does not condone the choices, rather it underscores the need for breaking the chains of oppression that objectifies beauty & limits the roles of women – especially those who don’t fit the Playboy image of 1/2 of the population.

      Lastly, I was glad to see some networks utilizing the wonderful skills of a female commentator who may actually not fit all the qualities so many think are what America wants to see working actual games. Maybe it was my imagination, but after some initial success, her popularity & usage seemed to grow :) Unfortunately, women like Doris Burke have traditionally been the exception, not the rule. Hopefully her pioneering work will help to effect more change in a more inclusive direction.

      • Beth says:

        Andy, I’ve always felt professional men’s sports could do well by marketing more to gay men and to straight women. I mean, no need to come up with lame excuses like the “Fox Sports Girls” or the “Rays team” to attract our attention – we just have to watch Desmond Jennings run the bases or Sean Rodriguez flash a smile (because lord knows he hasn’t had many opportunities lately to run the bases) and we’ve gotten our money’s worth.

        • Andy says:

          Couldn’t agree w/you more, Beth!! Especially these days w/major sports teams getting a lot of attention b/c none of them have had a Gay athlete feel comfortable enough to come out publicly, even after all of these years of progress :( A few years back, I had a brief conversation about this w/Andrew Friedman & Matt Silverman. Unfortunately, they didn’t see the connection between things like marketing to the LGBT comm’y & creating an environment of inclusion & support on the team :( Hopefully, things are changing, given their support of LGBT Pride Day & the It Gets Better campaign :)

          In any case, I just ran across this old post from our very own Rays Index where the subject of the Sexiness of our Players was the main topic, complete w/a sexy pic of Gabe Kapler. Here’s the link:

          http://www.raysindex.com/2009/04/the-rays-new-moneyball-statistic-sexiness.html

          Hope you enjoy it! :P Who knows, maybe we can even have a fund-raising Hunk-o-Rays calendar some day :D

  8. Political_Man says:

    Honestly, I think women should be more offended at the garbage on the Lifetime network. No one is insulting women’s intellegence by having a couple of models urging you to watch the game. No more than movies or tv shows hire hunky guys who are marginal actor.

    My main problem with the Fox Sports girls is the commericals don’t show enough of the fox sports girls. By the time I turn my head toward the tv, they are off the screen. Look everyone is entitled to their opinion but I really think you should lighten up.

  9. I think this has more to do with the fact that they play the same stupid commercials during Rays and Marlins games about 100 times per game.

    I think I am more tired of that then anything. We all know they are just eye candy to fill space for the lack of sponsors for both teams.

    Everyone who is watching already knows they are watching Fox Sports Florida where Rays / Marlins fans live.

    They sure as hell know how to beat that horse to the ground though!

  10. Clark says:

    Personally, I always wondered if there was an unreached demographic that made the Fox Sports Girls necessary; men who might change the channel or not tune into a ball game in the first place unless there was a possibility of glimpsing sexy, sexy girl during the commercials. I guess there is though – guys that hate this article. Talk about a niche audience.

  11. Michael says:

    Thank You for saying something! I saw them on TVs months ago & checked them out. I can’t believe they’re still employed. HOOTERS Girls are way better! Let’s Go Buccaneers!!! AAARRRRRGH

  12. How about the beautiful and loquacious, Nancy Donnellan? She has been a baseball fan in Tampa Bay since day one.

  13. RLM says:

    I’ve gotten very tired of the “where Rays fans live” clips. At first they were attractive, no they’re like your irritating sister.

  14. Mike says:

    What’s next, Jordi? Bash cheerleaders, basketball dance teams, Hooters girls, girls in the Tilted Kilt Sports Pub commercials, etc? At the core, they are all marketing approaches looking to land the same demographic. Your article, focused so tightly on the Sun Sports girls, makes me think one of them turned you down when approached for a date. In this tough economy, this talent search led to creating a couple jobs for a pair of women who likely just graduated and were looking to enter the workforce. The publicity (that even your article creates) is nice exposure for them to possibly score other jobs in the industry, like the aforementioned Jenn Sterger who if you recall, was nothing more than eye candy at first. Plus, I personally, don’t mind the 5 second reminders that Sun Sports is “Where Rays fans live.” Basically, lighten up and enjoy the game.

  15. Dennis says:

    You are right. When they appear in person like they did during last night’s Red Sox – Rays game, it gets my attention, while my wife just sits there. She’s as big a sports fan as I am. The FS girls are definitely there to serve as eye candy for the mail audience.

  16. Patrick Ragin says:

    No ma’am. She sounds more schizophrenic more than anything and its much more serious than bipolar. Bipolar people have mood swings. Schizos talk to imaginary people, their appearance is completely off, and their reality ain’t nowhere here on earth.

  17. paul says:

    Thats true, almost everyone one the regional fox sports networks have a set of these girls now.

Leave a Comment