From F1 To Cricket, Why Do Most Men Look Down On Female Sports Fans?

female sports fan

Did you see Charles Leclerc holding the winning trophy at the Monaco Grand Prix podium with Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz on the sides? It’s a sight to behold. There isn’t a happier moment in a sports fan’s life than watching their favourite player or team take the winning stage. But things aren’t the same if you are a female sports fan, especially if you are into male-dominated sports like Cricket, Football, Formula 1 and so on.


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To explain it in simple words, imagine you are wearing a Nirvana t-shirt, and someone asks you to name three songs by the band on the spot. That’s how it feels to be a female sports fan. It is naturally assumed that we watch all the races and matches because of good-looking players like Charles or Shubman Gill. (Collective eye roll)

As Taylor Swift once said, “The worst kind of person is someone who makes you feel bad, dumb or stupid for being excited about something.”

Jokes or Sexism

Most of the time, female sports fans become a casual joke while discussing theories or sports strategies. Sports enthusiasm is sadly often associated with masculinity in traditional gender norms.

Not Funny GIFs | Tenor

Women who question these expectations or enter what they see to be areas that are dominated by men may feel threatened. Making fun of female sports fans is not just derogatory but a degrading act motivated by insecurity or a need to establish some alpha control.

The Rise of Women in Sports

The rise of female sports fans is a testament to the increasing inclusivity and popularity of the game, be it cricket in India or Formula 1 globally. There’s no denying that historically, these sports have been viewed as male-dominated domains, both in terms of athletes and fans. However, in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift as more women actively engage in sports.

There are several factors contributing to this: the visibility of female sportspeople, such as Susie Wolff in Formula 1, Smriti Mandhana in Cricket, Sania Mirza in Tennis and many more. These women have helped to break stereotypes and encourage more women to participate in and follow the sport.

Women who are passionate about these sports are finding communities and support networks online and offline, where they can connect with like-minded fans, share their enthusiasm for the sport and feel a sense of belonging within the community. One of them is Pink Pit Stop which has been my go-to book for all things F1 for the past few months. Pink Pit Stop has created a vibrant and inclusive community where women can celebrate their passion for F1.

But as societal attitudes towards gender roles evolve, there is a growing acceptance of women participating in traditionally male-dominated activities, including motorsports and field games. This cultural shift has contributed to the increasing visibility and acceptance of female sports fans.

The Experience

I have been super lucky to be surrounded by so many females who enjoy watching sports; first, my mother, who is a passionate cricket fan, and my friends, who enjoy watching various sports. And when I asked them about this casual sexism, here’s what they had to say.

Reese Witherspoon What Like Its Hard GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Arushi Mehta, the beauty intern at ELLE, who is my go-to F1 best friend, says, “When I was younger, even if I was interested in a sport, I couldn’t show it in fear of being ridiculed or asked stupid questions like ‘do you know what X means?’ I am okay with not knowing because that’s how you’ll learn, but it’s the tone or how they expect you to already not know. It’s sad because it steered me away from it super young.”

“Only now, in my 20s, am I watching the sports I am interested in. Today I am an ardent F1 fan, and no, not from watching Drive To Survive, and even if I become a fan after Drive To Survive, there’s nothing wrong with it. Whatever the reason is for a girl joining the community, even if it’s from a reel on Instagram, I think it’s amazing but if you’re a girl, they think you are into the sport because the drivers like Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz are good looking.”

“I’ve always supported Ferrari, from Kimi and Sebastian to C2 now, and they’re excellent drivers. No one knows strategy like Mr. Smooth Operator, and no one has race pace like Charles, hence the number of poles. I watched him win F2 as well. There’s an expectation that you won’t know enough, and when you do, the most random questions come up—’Who won the Imola Grand Prix in 1990 or who won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1955?’ and if you don’t know, you couldn’t possibly be into the sport. A man actually got offended when I said I watched F1 and before I could complete my sentence, he questioned ‘Okay, but what is DRS?’ Rolling my eyes, I told him I know it’s the Drag Reduction System, and I know why it’s used.”

Apart from F1, we have a fair share of female football fans here; one of them is ELLE’s beauty writer Sakshi Rawte, who had some solid points to make. “I’ve been a fan of sports ever since I could run. I’ve always played everything I could, but football was the closest to my heart. Growing up and playing with my male friends was always so much fun; they’d never make me feel like I loved the sport less or knew less about the sport.”

“However, as time went by and I started talking about my love for this sport, I was met with a slew of hate online. ‘Explain the offside rule to me.’ ‘Oh, can you tell me what Rooney’s favourite beer is?’ – I get these questions every time I make video content on football. I can’t fathom why it’s so difficult for men to accept that there’s a woman, or rather multiple women out there who love football, watch it regularly and even go for games. I love football just as much as I enjoy getting ready to go out or do ‘traditionally feminine’ things. The two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive to each other.”

F1 in general has a large female community online where I generally share my few cents about the race. And thats where I became friends with Rashi Gaur, who is an avid Lewis Hamilton fan (special mention to her fanpage which is a Lewis Hamilton stylepedia) and a social media marketing person by profession. When I asked her thoughts on the topic, she shared, “I started watching F1 when I was still in high school. And I later joined the online F1 community on Twitter; that’s where I started interacting with a lot of F1 fans.”‘

“I was pretty shocked by the reaction that men had toward the women supporting the sport. And obviously, the first thing men will utter is that female sports fan support the drivers and the teams because of how they look. And it was funny to me because, when I started watching, I was not even supporting a particular driver on a team. I got into this because my dad used to watch the sport.”


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“I was just really fascinated by the technology and engineering that goes behind the pitstops, the car design, and all of that. So gradually, I started researching about what the sport is, what the rules are. And later I started supporting Lewis Hamiltion and McLaren. So this entire narrative does not make sense to me. Why do men think that women support a particular sport because of how the drivers look? The drivers look amazing. Of course, I’m going to appreciate how they look, right?”

“But that does not mean I’m supporting the entire sport. To be honest, when the cars go around on track, they’re all covered in helmets. How do you expect us to go crazy after their faces? So this narrative is embarrassing and pathetic, and even in 2024, a large chunk of these fans, who happened to be men, still look down upon any woman, be it a young fan watching the sport or an older fan; they all have the same outlook towards all of these female sports fans.”

Later, she concludes, “I think, obviously, the lack of representation of women in sports is a big reason why the men think this way. Most of them think women are not capable of understanding something as complex as Formula One, or even cricket, for that matter. I think it’s really important for sports to have a diverse fan base, and that, of course, like F1 or cricket, has a hugely diverse fan base. But we still lack a lot of diversity within these teams. There are still so many teams where you will see a large chunk of men working in the team photographs. I would like to give credit to Lewis, who was one of the first to point this out. And the fact that he was one of the only drivers who started highlighting and supporting F1 Academy.”


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“All of this speaks volumes about how less women are valued and given opportunities, and I’m so happy that Susie Wolff (Managing Director of F1 Academy) is working to bridge that gap. In tennis, Venus Williams and Serena Williams have built such a huge name for themselves. So I think it’s really important to have representation and diversity within sports.”

“In a nutshell, I think it’s high time we acknowledged that such conduct with female sports fans is unacceptable and reinforces negative gender stereotypes, which is extremely important. Without worrying about gender-based prejudice or mockery, everyone should be free to pursue their passions and interests. In order to create a more accepting and encouraging sports culture, it is imperative to promote diversity and honour all sports person and fans, regardless of gender.”

Also read: From BTS To Barbie, Here’s Why Men Love Hating On The Things Women Enjoy

Lewis Hamilton Is F1’S Most Stylish Driver At The Paddock And These Looks Are Proof

From Charles’ Goofy Denims To Carlos’ Old Money Fits, Let’s Talk About These Ferrari Boys And Their Personal Style

Deepti Sharma And 5 Other Players From WPL With Record-Breaking Statistics

- Digital Writer


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