The NFL Suddenly Realized Women Like Football

During every Super Bowl, it's inevitable that somebody at the party will tell me, "You know a lot about football... for a girl." To which I'm tempted to answer, "You know very little about girls." Luckily, the National Football League is wising up to the fact that women comprise a large portion of its fan demographic. The NFL teamed up with Marie Claire to promote its women's line, which will appear in the magazine's "Ultimate Fangirl's Guide to Football" in its September issue.

According to Adweek, 44.9 million women watched this year's Super Bowl, meaning more women tuned in to watch the Seattle Seahawks demolish the Denver Broncos than to marvel at the designer gowns on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. And according to Marie Claire, 45 percent of women watched football every week last season. Well, duh.

Until recently, if women wanted to show team spirit, their options were limited to gender-coddling apparel — baby tees in various shades of pink that hardly represent the ferocity of their favorite team. I mean, the manly pirate in the Oakland Raiders' logo swathed in pink? It just doesn't make sense. It's like the NFL was sugarcoating the sport for us, prettying it up before spoon-feeding it to us. It was patronizing.

"About five years ago, we did an inventory of all our offerings [for women]," the NFL's director of apparel, Rhiannon Madden, told Adweek. "We had a growing female fanbase who were just as avid as the male fans, but we weren’t giving them the best outlet to express their fandom."

We'll say.

Nowadays, the NFL's shop is stocked with women's gear that actually reflect the sport, not some antiquated, sexist stereotype that women will only wear something if it's pink and bedazzled. Some of the new apparel is featured in the NFL's "Together We Make Football" campaign, which features female celebrities like Jordin Sparks, Dania Ramirez, and Erin Heatherton.

After the success of its debut, Marie Claire's September issue will feature another "Ultimate Fangirl's Guide to Football" this year, sponsored by the NFL. Expect the booklet to cover favorite female game-day rituals, a pull-out poster of the new NFL Thursday night schedule, plus football-inspired manicures and stylish game-day outfits. Hey, just because we don't want to be covered in pink doesn't mean we can't still look like girls on Sunday.

Images: Women's NFL Apparel