Men tend to make these assumptions, but like most female baseball fans I know, I actually have a specialized knowledge of the game that my male counterparts may not. For example, I know what sections of the ballpark are the safest to sit in, where I am least likely to be harassed by men, or to overhear sexist, homophobic or racist remarks from the male voices around me (at the Rogers Centre, 515 and 113 are both good places, if you’re interested). I know that weekday evening games tend to be most comfortable for women, that Sunday afternoons are generally better than Saturdays, and that Friday evenings should be avoided all together. I know that the new centre field porch on the 200 level—although equipped with a beautiful view—is generally out of the question if you’re interested in avoiding aggressive, drunken masculinity. Female fans navigate the game differently by necessity, as media messaging consistently tells us this is a male space that we’re being “allowed” to enter. I am a devoted fan of the game despite and not because of the culture that surrounds it.
Men hold an overwhelming majority of the power when it comes to creating mainstream sports culture, whether it’s by being a player, a fan, or a sportswriter. Take, for example, Tom Maloney’s piece in last Friday’s Globe and Mail, titled “A new generation of baseball fans in Toronto are young, hip and cool.” The article, which breaks down results of an in-stadium survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid, reinforces the very same exclusion and hostility that I have front of mind every time I pick my seats. In it, the author attempts to explain an “astounding” jump in women’s attendance at Rogers Centre from 2010 to 2012 by lazily hypothesizing that these young women aren’t really baseball fans at all.