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Buccaneers screw up their women's outreach program

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided that it was important to bring more women into the folds as Bucs fans. And as has become typical of the Bucs' marketing and outreach efforts, the result was a tone-deaf, ham-fisted campaign that mostly focuses on fashion and teaching women the rules of the game -- they have videos of Lavonte David and Doug Martin explaining what linebackers and running backs are, and a page explaining what a play clock even is. Because women and rules, right?

That led to a lot of backlash, and rightly so.  It's a stereotypical, lazy and insulting approach. Don't take my word for it: Kelly Parsons and Traci Johnson wrote excellent columns in the Tampa Bay Times explaining the problem. As did Juliet Macur in the New York TimesNina Mandell for USA TodayLaura Keeney for The Denver Post and Alexandra Petri for The Washington Post, among many others.

Whenever there's a backlash, there are some folks defending them, too. Tom Jones in the Tampa Bay Times talked about how they weren't targeting all women, just some of them (no such indication in their press release at all), while Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports kind of defended their intentions (note that no one's questioning their intentions, just their ignorance).

Notice something here? The very few columns written to half-heartedly defend the Bucs were all written by men. The people who are not a part of the audience for RED. When the only folks who think you're doing okay-ish are not part of your target audience, but the people you are targeting are writing op-eds that you're clueless, that's a really solid indicator that you actually got a lot of things wrong.

There are some things the Buccaneers could actually do to help women's experiences as Bucs fans that don't include a patronizing, stereotype-based approach. They could, for instance, support organizations aiming to reduce sexual violence and support survivors. They could be more pro-active about reducing the incidence of sexual harassment at the stadium -- there's currently no specific policy targeting those actions in the stadium's code of conduct, although it does include a general prohibition of "behavior which otherwise interferes with other guests' enjoyment." They could even make an effort loosen their bag policy, which prompted a lot of complaints that it was preventing many women from bringing their regular handbags into the stadium.

But most importantly, they could simply ask women fans what would make them feel more welcome in the stadium and as Bucs fans. You know, address their actual, specific, expressed needs.

But nah, instead it's important that Bucs fans know they can wear branded clothing and understand what a play clock is. That's the real barrier for women's participation in fandom, apparently.