College Hoops Won’t Acknowledge Lesbian Fans

Robert Bell of the GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD has a report today on the elephant in the room when it comes to the marketing of the ACC women’s basketball tournament.

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(NBA fans also are way out front on this issue!)

While the WNBA has enthusiastically embraced its lesbian fans, Bell reports that the ACC (and all other major conferences) has completely ignored its lesbian fan base in women’s basketball marketing efforts. This despite the fact that lesbians could very well represent the majority of fans at the league’s basketball games.

How do I know? I announced games for Ohio State, Georgia and South Carolina in the ’90s. For those programs, the vast majority of diehard fans were lesbians, the elderly, and children under the age of 10.

Reporter Bell notes that the numerous businesses throughout Greensboro, which is hosting the women’s ACC basketball tournament this year, are specifically catering to lesbian clientele. This despite the fact that ACC officials steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the sexual orientation of the most rabid of its fans.

When a News & Record reporter requested an interview to discuss the league’s support among lesbians with ACC associate commissioner Nora Lynn Finch, who oversees the women’s tournament, conference officials asked that the questions be e-mailed in advance.

Finch responded to general questions about the tournament’s fan base, but declined to answer specific questions about the tournament’s lesbian fan base.

“Our marketing efforts have been consistent for many years and are really driven toward all fans that want to watch what we think is the best college basketball in the country,” Finch wrote. “We continue to (target) youth groups, in order to cultivate the young fan.”

Uh, Nora, you’ve been doing that for 20+ years and women’s college hoops, besides a handful of programs, doesn’t draw flies. And it never will under that plan. (Soccer called, it wants its 1981 marketing plan back.)

If schools would get real and acknowledge that the most affluent of their fan base is homosexual, I think we really could see some attendance gains in women’s college basketball. It’s no coincidence that WNBA teams, which welcomes lesbians with open arms, draws better than most big collegiate programs.

I also find it hypocritical that representatives of institutions that claim to be a bastion of societal inclusion completely shut down homosexuals when it comes to sports. This despite the fact that the majority of women’s basketball players at the top schools are lesbians. As are the coaches!

I think it’s about time we get a very special Ellen to further explore this raging hypocrisy.