A new sports clinic wants women to love pigskin as much as guys do.
There are women who are die-hard sports fans and can talk football shop while draining beer mugs and devouring hot wings. The rest of the female population is more likely to plop down on the couch this Sunday afternoon during the Bears’ season opener and say something like, “Who’s playing today?”
Don’t be that girl.
If you don’t want to get ditched by your guy friends Sundays from high noon to dusk (until—gulp—early February), brush up on your football knowledge. It’s easy with The Girls Are at the Game, a new series of women’s-only sports clinics that promise to have you up to speed in a day or less.
The workshops are the brainchild of Chicagoan Carolyn Bell, whose late husband, Bill, was a Big 10 college football official. For years, Bell traipsed in and out of stadiums, half clueless about the rules, players, penalties and plays. She realizes now that knowing more about the sport would’ve boosted her enjoyment immensely. “I thought about how I would’ve liked to have learned the game,” she says.
To help other women get more out of their sports-viewing experiences, she began hosting basketball and baseball workshops this past February. Through her late husband, she became connected to an array of sports experts—from high-school coaches to officials to former professional players—who help teach the classes.
To create a fun and feminine learning environment, Bell threw in plenty of girly perks. “I thought, If someone was giving me a manicure while I was watching, that would’ve worked.” To that end, sessions are filled with breaks where mini spa treatments like facials and massages are offered. There are also snacks, lunch and drinks catered by local restaurants. (Food and spa services are included in the price of the workshop.)
“This is the way women want to do sports,” Bell says. “We don’t want to eat brats and drink six beers. If that’s the way you want to watch the game, this isn’t [the workshop] for you.”
This fall, the full- and half-day clinics will hit on a variety of Bears-specific topics. Participants will learn how last season went (here’s a hint: the Bears made it to the Super Bowl), what happened in the draft and which play makers to look for on the field. Participants also will dissect penalties, rules and plays; role-play being in a huddle; run through offensive and defensive formations; and practice how to hold the ball and throw spirals. (For baseball and basketball workshops, playing catch and dribbling are covered.)
Each participant goes home with a goody bag filled with a T-shirt, keychain, hat and “cheat sheet,” a laminated cue card listing key terminology, for brushing up at home. “We do a better job than the league is doing [in making football accessible to women], which is by selling pink T-shirts,” Bell says.
At the end of the workshop, women have a solid base knowledge of the sport, plus an arsenal of fun facts with which to impress the guys at the bar. You may not be ready to start trading players in a fantasy football league—yet—but you’ll have a good idea what’s going on the next time coach Lovie Smith throws his red challenge flag on the field.
The next The Girls Are at the Game workshop is October 29, or call to schedule your own group workshop with friends (888-356-4263, thegirlsareatthegame.com). Half-day clinics cost $199, full-day clinics $299. The Bears kick off their season Sunday 9 at 3:15pm against the San Diego Chargers on Fox.