How can baseball promote itself to women without sounding sexist?

The Cardinals are having a promotional giveaway next Wednesday night of a 1967 World Series replica ring.  Someone who posts on the Cardinals’ Twitter account created a major faux pas by posting a tweet this morning promoting this promotional item:

Anyone with half a brain read that tweet and realized instantly that this was sexist.  The tweet makes it sound like the women only love jewelry and men only love baseball.  There was a firestorm on Twitter about this tweet and it was deleted before I could see it (hey, I have to work for a living. I can’t always be on my iPhone).  Thankfully, my friend Tara Wellman replied with it for me to see.  Thanks, Tara! You’re the bomb!

So seriously, do women not like to go to baseball games?  If you just look at the name of this blog, you’ll know that’s not true.  The trick is for major league baseball to promote the game to appeal to women without looking or acting sexist.  That’s a tall order to fill, but hopefully, there are enough smart people at the major league level and in the team front offices that can get this done.  Here are my suggestions:

Start at the childhood level.  Parents and grandparents who love the game need to take their girls to games and talk to them about the game and how it’s played. If they know how to keep score, they should show the girls how to keep score. The Cardinals’ scorecards have a gatefold with instructions on how to keep score. MLB needs to appeal to the girls on Little League teams. These girls need to be supported and encouraged to love baseball.  As to the how, that’s up to someone at the upper levels of baseball. The Cardinals do a good job with this with the Cardinals Care ballfields.  Children are the future, not only of playing baseball but enjoying baseball as fans as well.

Does every promotional item for women have to be pink? The pink Adidas spikes that MLB was giving away on Twitter today is the epitome of this (see the photo below).  How many women wear spikes anyway unless they’re playing sports? If a woman was wearing spikes, they wouldn’t be pink, they’d match the colors whatever uniform she was wearing or maybe just be black or white spikes.  Surely, MLB and/or the teams can do better. The exception to this would be breast cancer promotional items since pink is the color that represents breast cancer.

MLB needs to advertise in women’s magazines/on women-oriented websites and on women’s TV networks.  MLB needs to hire a top-notch advertising firm that can come up with a slogan and an advertising campaign to make baseball appeal to women without sounding sexist.  Not all women are married to guys who love baseball; not all women are married.  If women don’t know how great baseball is, how are they going to enjoy it? MLB has to advertise in places where women are reading and are watching TV, so they should probably advertise on women’s TV networks as well, such as Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, and/or OWN Network.

MLB Network needs to pick up the TV show “Pitch.”  I can understand why this TV show about the first woman pitcher in baseball was developed and shown on the FOX network since they broadcast the World Series.  FOX didn’t do right by the show, however; it wasn’t advertised well (that I could see) and it was never shown again after the World Series.  FOX also waited until last week to cancel the show.  If they weren’t going to show it again, they should have canceled it sooner. I think MLB Network should pick up and reshow the first season of “Pitch” in its entirety and then order a second season to be filmed while the first season is being shown.  This would show women that MLB is serious about appealing to women and perhaps help women dream about playing major league baseball someday.  MLB Network is the only logical network for a show like “Pitch” and any other shows/movies that feature women and baseball. If MLB Network picks up “Pitch,” it needs to advertise it on women’s TV networks and women’s magazines.

So why do women love baseball and how can PR firms use that information so that more women can learn to love baseball?  Maybe taking a look at why I love baseball could be helpful. I was introduced to baseball by my mother in 1974.  If my parents hadn’t listened to ballgames on KMOX and watched whatever games were on TV back then, I might not have ever become a baseball fan. I enjoy baseball because it not only is a game of skill and brawn, it’s a game of strategy and brains as well.    Baseball is a pretty civilized sport.  Baseball is not a violent sport like football or hockey.  The only violence at a baseball game is the occasional bench-clearing brawl. Although women do not currently play baseball, they did in the past (see the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) and may possibly in the future play baseball again, on a permanent basis.  Baseball is possibly the only male-dominated sport that women could possibly play someday.

My friend Jessica Quiroli (@heelsonthefield) has also written a blog post about how baseball could market to women, and you can read that here.  St. Louis area readers, stay tuned for my next blog post with a giveaway for 2 tickets to the upcoming Pitch Talks: St. Louis.  I will be there and you don’t want to miss it, not just because you’ll get to meet me,  but you’ll get to hear from baseball writers you know and hopefully love. Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!


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