Times Writer Says Growing Female Fans a Bad Idea

Heller waves away Nats' efforts

Attention dames: stop bothering us men while we watch the baseball game, and fetch us another beer. That's not quite what The Times' Dick Heller said in today's column, but it's about half-a-step removed from it.

The Nats are hosting a Baseball 101 clinic for women who are interested in baseball and learning a bit more about it.  It's a way for the team to reach out, grow interest in the sport and perhaps find some new fans.

That is one of the worst ideas in history, argued Heller.

"To my way of thinking, this idea ranks right down there with the deals that brought Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes here. Or even worse, with the one that landed Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez."

Oh, it'd be easy to decry his unsympathetic, incoherent, rambling column as the product of early-onset dementia from a man whose ideas of male/female relations evolved in an era when men would drag women by their hair back to a cave.  But that'd be taking the sloppy, easy way out.

He said many women already enjoy baseball.  Yep, he's right.  But expanding access, and making an extra effort to reach out isn't a bad thing!  The clinics and access they'll have will turn casual fans into diehards.  (And if you've looked at the seats, you realize they need all the diehards they can get!)

Heller also argued that it won't draw interest either.  "[W]hy go after girls and women who previously didn't give a rodent's rump, as suggested by the 101 tag? The deep thinkers in the Nats' front office who conjured up this idea don't exactly have an exciting product to put on display."

It's hard to argue with the record, but that's exactly why some of these other efforts are so important.

Look at the Caps for an example.  Even with the franchise flying as high as it ever has, Ted Leonsis's guys (and girls) are busting their butts trying to attract fans and create a passionate fanbase.  Their Club Scarlet program helps to introduce and grow fandom, and has been a pretty big success.

But in Heller's world, growing the game isn't something that needs to be done.  "If a lady wanted to watch baseball, she'd already be watching it," seems to be his philosophy.

That might've been good in 1953, but it's not good enough anymore.

The Nats Baseball 101 Clinic is on July 17.  For more information, visit their website.

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