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Female Riders fans on level playing field, study finds

REGINA – A University of Regina researcher is looking at the challenges women face as sports fans, especially women who don’t cheer for a local team.

“Sports fandom and sports in general is a very male dominated area. When women are there, it’s always trying to gain that authenticity,” said Katie Sveinson, a doctorial student at the U of R. “That idea that just because I am female doesn’t mean that I am any less of a fan than anyone else.”

Her research finds women who cheer for a team in another city are sometimes questioned or viewed as inauthentic.

“I remember wearing my Green Bay Packers jersey and I had a male who I didn’t know ask me, ‘Do you even know whose jersey you’re wearing?’ That stemmed my interest in looking at this,” said Sveinson.

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However, the research could be proving Saskatchewan football fans are unique. With Rider nation stretching far-and-wide, some of the research participants said they feel included, regardless of location.

“This overwhelming sense of community came out of what they (the research participants) were saying. It’s not just here. You go on vacation in Mexico and you can find someone else wearing a Riders bathing suit.”

At Riders practice on Friday morning, Global News spoke to a group of women who married into the Rider community. Most of them don’t live in Saskatchewan but are reuniting this weekend for the season-opener. As outsiders, they say they’ve always felt welcome.

“I was really not much of a football fan. But marrying, I had to be a football fan and I love it,” said Betty Toniello, an Ottawa resident. “I think I love the Riders so much because of the following that they do have.”

“When you go to a game when the Argonauts play the Riders, half the stadium is green,” said Brenda Louie, a Toronto resident.

They said they feel empowered being a sports fan: “I’m a sports fan regardless. Falcons… the Riders. So, I don’t really base it on who I’m with. I’m just a sports fan. Period,” said Vicki Meyer, from Atlanta, Georgia.

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