I waited over twenty-four hours from the first time I saw an ad from the Houston Astros about "Ladies Night" until I wrote this article. Those that follow me on twitter know that I did rant for about 15 minutes or so on Monday evening about it. It's not that my initial reaction was completely out of line, but I wanted to let the emotion blow over before I came to tell you why I think "Ladies Night" is a bad bad bad idea.
In fact, I even struggle with whether the female writer should be the one to talk about it at all, but a couple of the other writers here pointed out that they were not women and as a result couldn't speak for me. (Yes, it was a novel and shocking moment of self-realization for a group of men.) See what I did there? Yep, I grouped all men together and made a judgement about them.
That's a little bit like what the Houston Astros did with "Ladies Night." Apparently, if you're female, you need to learn about baseball. For those unaware, here's what the Astros are promoting -
Astros Ladies Night, presented by State Farm, is a women-only event that allows our female fans to get the inside scoop on the Astros and meet some of the staff and players. The event starts at 4:00 pm with a 'Baseball 101' talk, followed by a happy hour event themed 'Diamond, Bling and Glittery Things' with music, specialty drinks, exclusive Ladies Night gift courtesy of State Farm, group photos with Astros players, and complimentary beauty treatments. Package includes a View Deck II ticket to watch the Astros take on the New York Yankees following the *cocktail hour.
That seems harmless enough, I suppose. If only that was the way it was promoted on twitter. On twitter the promotion looked like this:
9/27 is Ladies Night by @StateFarm! Ladies can learn about baseball, enjoy music, food, drinks & more! For info & tix http://t.co/erBV1YdNbu— Houston Astros (@astros) September 23, 2013
In theory, I have nothing against a sport teaching new fans about the game. In theory, I think expanding the Astros' fan base by reaching out to new fans is an outstanding idea. Just please don't assume the only ones who need to learn the game are women.
Baseball is the leader among pro sports when it comes to female fans. Marketing research indicates that the female fan base of baseball is 46% of the total. That means that it's pretty darn close to a 50/50 split. If there's a need for a night where "Ladies can learn about baseball" then there's a need for a "Men's Night" too.
Many sports organizations have hosted successful 101 clinics that were also marketed toward women. I've never really been a fan of those either, however, if the fan base is not close to a 50/50 split it makes a bit more sense to me. But as someone who has been asked at a baseball game (this season) if I was at the game because my boyfriend's a fan, and as someone who's had a man explain a rule to me in a condescending (and incorrect) manner not because I asked but because he assumed I wouldn't know (despite the fully filled out score book in my lap) I get a little touchy when it comes to these types of events.
I am not alone. Twitter blew up with comments back to the Astros. I'm not going to post the responses here as I don't generally swear when you and I have these little talks on Wednesday mornings, but you can go read the reaction on this twitter conversation if you'd care to see it.
I was also bothered by the fact that "Ladies" in the promo didn't have an apostrophe. Ladies in that sense is possessive. The "ladies" own the night, so really the event should be Ladies' Night. Am I just nit-picking now? Probably.
So yes, I'm annoyed by it. But I don't think the Houston Astros have a mastermind plot to offend and annoy women. I don't think this event was created with any malicious intent. No, I think the intent was money, plain and simple. I think in a season of low attendance and next to nothing television ratings, the Houston Astros will throw any promotion they can at the wall and see if it sticks.
After all, what else besides money could possibly make anyone think that a baseball 101 clinic is a good idea prior to the second to last game of the season?
Generally speaking, when teams host these events they do it before a season starts, unrelated to a game. There have been events that the players helped with, and put fans' feet on the field, running drills, etc. Hey Astros Marketing - host Baseball 101 on the field and let me, I mean fans, shag balls in center field or take batting practice with the team. Give a hands on training that any fan, new or old, male or female, will enjoy. Host front office personnel from baseball ops to talk about the nitty gritty going on with the team. Do it in conjunction with FanFest, even. Build your fan base at the start of the season.
In a year that the product on the field hasn't always been the easiest to sell, the Astros' marketing department has done a pretty good job with using Orbit in fun videos, coming up with new and different entertainment on El Grande during games. They've owned the new colors and branding and had fun with them. All of those things I have appreciated. But insinuating that I don't know about baseball because I'm a girl and then making an end-of-season cash grab by trying to host an event based on that assumption? Please don't do it again.
More from Crawfish Boxes:
- MLB Scores: Astros 2, Rangers 3
- TCB Tuesday Mailbag: You've got questions, we've got answers
- Astros Podcast: Is It Over Yet?
- Monday's Three Astros Things
- TCB's Astros Minor League All-Stars