If you’re the worst baseball team in the league by a wide mile, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of cheap shots when you offer to teach anyone about baseball. When you advertise your offer as the Houston Astros—who are in the midst of a losing streak that’s now in double digits—did on Twitter yesterday, then those cheap shots start to seem well-deserved.
No one can fault the Astros for trying to cater to female fans (or, frankly, for trying to give anyone a reason to buy a ticket to an Astros game), but the implication that ladies need to learn about baseball—that the ladies who follow the team on Twitter haven’t, say, followed/watched/played/obsessed over the game their entire lives—reasonably annoyed some people who face the assumption that sports are only for men every time they try to watch a game.
Jessica Luther, an Austin-based writer who covers sports for the Guardian and The Atlantic, was among those who responded to the Astros’ tweet. “It’s not their intent to alienate women, but it’s a symptom of the fact that there are a lot of men who work in sports,” she says. “I don’t think they considered what that would look like to women who already care about baseball.” Luther would prefer to see some of the programming offered at the event—like a “Baseball 101” talk—done on a gender-neutral basis, and the “Diamond, Bling, and Glittery Things” happy hour done away with entirely. “It really shows to me that the Astros already consider me not part of what they’ve built there. Why would I want to go participate in that?”
Still, there will be women who attend the event, and many of them will have a really good time. But that’s also probably taking a short-sighted view of cultivating a female fanbase: If their approach to Ladies Night alienates ladies who actually care about the game, and the Ladies Night crowd isn’t likely to return on nights when there aren’t “glittery things” and complimentary beauty treatments on the agenda, where does that leave a 51-106 team that literally no one in Houston wants to watch when it’s looking to fill seats next week?
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