On Saturday, Jamsil Sports Complex is bursting with women who are wearing uniforms. They are talking about the baseball players while they're waiting in a line to see a baseball game. Do you think it is strange? Maybe not. Actually, you can find easily in the sports stadium that young women are sitting on stands, watching sports games such as football or baseball. Then, where do the enthusiastic female fans come from?
Did We Love Sport?
Sports, especially in Korea, is the medium of promotion to enhance the self-esteem and the sense of unity, improve the local status, share the same interest with people, and revive local economy. After the 2002 FIFA World Cup, during which people realized the power of sports, people have been making an effort to create the atmosphere and the environment to go watching sports games. Due to the effort, women started to enter the field of sports easier than ever, and female sports fans have increased from 23 percent of the sports fan in 2003 to 40 percent of the sports fans in 2012. Although the female sports fans were increased, it was just criticized by the established sports fans. The purpose of seeing a sports game for women was usually on the player’s appearance or the stadium’s lively atmosphere, which is ideal to promote friendship with their friends and family. It was far from the proper purpose to seeing a game, loving the sports games. Hence, women were called Ur Bba, which meant a fan who loves sports only because the player is handsome; they were treated as an obstacle which blurred the sound spirit of sports. Or they were treated as an ignorant fan who came to the stadium just to enjoy the cheering regardless of any preference to the team or the sports. In contrast, men were focused on the sports game, including the strategy of the games and team work, identifying with their favorite teams, and moreover, they did the sports game with their friends by themselves as well as seeing the game.1 In short, women went seeing a game to satisfy the social and psychological needs, instead men did for the personal needs.
Different From Men
However, recently, the number of female sports fans to seeing a sports game due to another reason is increasing. SOOKTRIKE, the women’s club in Sookmyung Women’s University to watch baseball games, is the typical example of the NEW type of female fans. They have been going to the stadium to see a game, not for just enjoying the cheering or meeting the handsome players. In the interview in The Sookmyung Times (SMT), SOOKTRIKE said, “At the beginning of the semester, we gathered together and choose 5 or 6 most interesting games that we are going to watch that year. We decided it by majority vote. Since our goal of making this club was to equally cheer eight baseball teams, we try to go to various kinds of teams’ games and cheer for each one.” They added, “We are having regular meetings about twice a month. In this meeting, we discuss the way we can promote baseball to women, the right future of Korean baseball, and so on. Actually, from this year, we are going to pick one pro-baseball team and become the sports marketers for it.” Furthermore, they analyze the games above just seeing and also they discuss among themselves how they can develop the sports game marketing to promote the environment of a sports game for women. In addition, the sports marketing club, SMR is formed from a 6 to 4 ratio between men and women, the number of women-only sports marketing clubs is increasing. Lee, Division of Communication ’10 said, “At first, I went to the stadium by chance, but now, I love sports, especially soccer. Hence, I have studied about the sports professionally and decided to be a person who publicizes sports and expands the power of sports to a lot of people.” Unlike how the female sports fan were, now women have become interested in the sports themselves, not only for the subsidiary reason. Women become sports fans who have affection to the sports and possess the professional knowledge for the sports game. However, the female fans who want to have a sports game themselves are hard to find, unlike men. Kim (23), the student in Kyonggi University, said, “I love volleyball, but I don’t want to play volleyball. My friends think so, too. Although most women do exercise, for example yoga or jogging, for having a good shape, I think women don’t want to participate in the sports games, especially soccer or baseball, even if they like them.” It reflects the distinct feature of female sports fans that there are no amateur sports teams for women, in contrast to the number of the teams for men office workers or young boys.2 Although the female sports fans are developing professionally, why do they change differently with the type of male sports fans?
What Makes Us Like Now?
First of all, the prejudice to female sports fans makes a new type of sports fan. The early type of female sports fans caused the negative perspective to the established sports fans, and women were regarded just as ignorant spectators. Hence, women have suffered misunderstanding from other sports fans quite a while. In opposition to the misunderstanding, female sports fans are storing up the knowledge in depth for the game. Jang, Department of Public Relations & Advertisement ’10 said, “If I said to people that I liked to watch a sports game, they wondered whether I really knew about the sports. Most of them ignored me. I hated it, so I studied about the sports from the rules to the history. Because of the prejudice, I don’t want to ignore my passion to sports.” Actually, many women buy a book or take a class to get the professional knowledge about sports. It is the notable example, The Baseball Guide Only for Women, written by Hu Guyun, and it is gaining great popularity among the women who want to study about baseball for the reason that it explains baseball easily but expertly.3 Also, the special lecture by LG TWINS has been held every year since 2010. It gives lots of information to women university students. Female sports fans not only deny the criticism, but also they develop themselves with studying, and furthermore, they make an effort to get a positive perspective.
Secondly, the number of places for having a game themselves or communicating with others to get information is too short for female sports fans. According to the research, although Korean female University students want to do sports activities, 79% of them don’t do it due to the lack of the place or companions among female students, (42.2% - the lack of place, 22.3% - no companion to do it, 15.1% - no coach for doing it expertly.)4 Even if women have professional knowledge or special affection for sports, the source for them is far from enough. For satisfying their wants, several clubs such as SK Chevrolet Baseball Class are springing up, and they are not only few to cover the women’s wants, but also unknown to many people. Consequently, women are focusing on just watching sports games or storing up the knowledge.
With the rising of women’s status and the development of sports, the participation rate of female sports fans is increasing and also the professionalism of them has become deeper. To overcome the prejudice of them and the shortage of place for women, the new type of female sports fans have sprung up, but although the negative history, it makes the positive result in the field of sports games. Nowadays, people who work in sports marketing want to find women specialists for preparing the new market for women. Of course, the place for women and the prejudice to women should be changed; women also should use the positive results which are already spread in the sports games.
1 Kang Hyun Min, “The Analysis about the tendency of sports fan for the business management strategy,” The Korea Journal of Sports Science, pp.281-296, 1998
3 Kim Jung Hwan, “The Baseball Guide Only for Women, written by Hu Guyun,” NEWSIS, 2012.4.28
4 Lee Hye-Sook & Hwang Eul-Ryong, “Research on the Comparison between the Participation in Sports Activities of Korean and Japanese Female University Students,”
2006, The Korea Journal of Sports Science