By Lisa Autz
Photo courtesy of Liz Loza.
Though it was traditionally stereotyped as a male interest, a growing number of women are engaging in fantasy football.
“Football has been something women have been interested in for decades but it’s been socially constructed to be a man-thing,” explains Liz Loza, “but it’s not a man’s domain anymore.”
Loza is a fantasy football expert for Scout.com and also owns TheFantasyFootballGirl.com, a website that offers tips to creating the perfect imaginary team. Fantasy football is a game where people make pretend teams based on real NFL players.
Female players make up about 20 percent of all fantasy football teams. Today, out of the National Football League’s 150 million American viewers, almost half are women–meaning that the female audience is becoming a valuable base for the NFL to sustain profits.
Loza told BTR how her upbringing influenced her interest of expanding football into the women’s domain.
“When I was in 3rd grade, all the girls I knew were princesses for Halloween, while I was Ryne Sandberg, the second baseman for the Chicago Cubs,” she recounts.
Raised by her grandfather, Loza spent her youth learning how to change a car’s oil, along with how to be a proud, Chicagoan sports fan. When she was 18 and her grandfather passed away at the tail end of the football season, watching the sport helped her cope with the loss.
“It was a way to grieve for me and I just started watching every football game I could,” reveals Loza. “It was a habit that just stuck.”
Loza began to view the game as an outlet where, regardless of gender, people could connect with the loved ones in their lives and find commonality.
Growing up schooling boyfriends in fantasy football, Loza decided to create The Fantasy Football Girl website to introduce more women to the pastime. Novice female participants who’ve never even seen a football game can learn tips on working the waiver wire–a tool used to gauge a team’s interest in a player–and beat the men who’ve been playing for years.
Women just need to get over the initial eye-rolls and hazing that most newcomers will experience, but how? Just by jumping right into it, advises Loza.
“For the most part it’s a really casual hobby and there are so many free leagues like Yahoo, ESPN, [or] Scout,” details Loza. She furthers that these resources keep players informed on injury reports and other important updates each week.
Naturally, there’s a certain element of luck that every analyst would hopefully admit to, but Loza confesses to women breaking their way into the scene, “You just have to roll with the punches.”