A shot of ESPN estrogen


Things to do while waiting for the kickoff to the next Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Track down the new Adam Carolla book, “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.” (linked here).


Man up, the former “Man Show” co-creator and current podcast radio host rants. Next time you get a flat tire, change it yourself instead of grabbing a hand sanitizer and calling Triple-A like your wife or girlfriend would do.

And while we’re on the emasculating subject: Why did it take 30-some years for ESPN to finally start its own chick network?

Stop fighting it.

Not that there are immediate plans for newly minted espnW to morph soon into the latest ESPN cable channel – if it happens, it’ll be because of a demand for it and financial incentive for the Disney corporation.

But for the time being, you’ve been warned: Those five letters represent the launch of a not-so-demure website blog, the planting of a beachhead to an initiative to see who’s initiated into sports media reform from the female perspective.

The mission statement reads (linked here): “A destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes. We hope you find it surprising, informative and inspiring, because we created it just for you.”

For who? “The View”?


“It was conceived to serve females,” says espnW vice president Laura Gentile, “but we’re happy to have men enjoy it, too.”

Go ahead, take the bait. It may not be in your DNA, but there’s a double-helix of information to pour over.

Gentile’s pilot project into luring more women to ESPN’s platforms of sports consumerism involved nearly two years of research to decide on the best form of infiltration.

The gameplan here, as if fits in ESPN’s big picture: Nurture more female viewers (its research shows men make up more than 75 percent of all network viewership) beyond the Olympics, the Spelling Bee or cheerleading shows. And then find out why there are dozens of hours of women’s sports programming offered each week that go unnoticed by both genders.

To cut through the clutter of male-enhanced sports noise, espnW starts with a group of personalities posting mini-columns such as Melissa Jacobs (thefootballgirl.com), Amanda Rykoff (OCDChick.com) and Sarah Spain (ESPNChicago.com), plus former athletes like Julie Foudy, Tamika Catchings, Summer Sanders and Jessica Mendoza.


Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Jessica Mendoza, right, poses with tennis legend Billie Jean King, center, and then-Woman’s Sports Foundation president Aimee Mullins in New York at an awards ceremony in 2008.

Mendoza, the former Camarillo High and Stanford star Olympic softball player, did her first piece (linked here) on lessons learned from a recent women’s self-esteem talk she heard Billie Jean King do at an espnW retreat.


“When I heard this was going to be a place for women’s sports – high school, college and pro — things like Sports Illustrated for Women come and go because it seems like they’re just thrown out there,” said Mendoza, president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and an ESPN college football sideline reporter. “I think it’s cool for a female to know what’s happening in men’s sports, just as it’s OK for guys to know what’s going on with women’s sports. I see this website doing that.”

Gentile says the “pressure is self-imposed” to succeed with this out-of-TV-tube fertilization.

“The three lessons we’ve learned from those kind of cautionary tales is that, one, you have to have a long-term commitment to develop and listen to the audience and mold the product,” said Gentile. “There aren’t very many overnight success stories in this business. You also need to do a lot of homework, and we’ve been methodical in our research. And then you need a dedicated team who is accountable and responsible and isn’t treating this as a side project. We have support on all three of those.”

Feedback from those who visited espnW.com during this week’s launch (linked here) comes from a survey where they’re asked to concede if they are a “woman (it’s espnW after all)” or a “man (curious about this whole espnW thing).”

Mendoza said she asked her husband, Adam, to check out the site this week when they had some downtime at their Moorpark home.

“He rolled his eyes, and in his mind he had this picture of an all-women’s thing, so I left him alone,” she said. “I saw him reading some of the stories. The first question he asked me was, ‘Do they have an app for this?'”

Chick-ification is just a sports click away.

== More:
== On Facebook (linked here)
== On Twitter (linked here)
== A New York Times story on espnW from October (linked here).
== In USA Today from September (linked here)
== “Why I hate the idea of ESPNW” by Julie DiCaro (before she’s ever seen it) (linked here)
== A review from BusinessInsider.com (linked here)

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