Six Books for Women Who Love Football. Yes, We Exist.
I just won my Fantasy Football League. First time ever, though I’ve played for five years. (Thank you, Andrew Luck and DeMarco Murray!) I watch football every Sunday; I go to at least one Philadelphia Eagles game per year; I think the NFL RedZone Channel is amazing; and when I have a babysitter, I head to a bar for Monday Night Football. Yes, I’m a woman. And it turns out I’m not alone.
According to recent articles in The Washington Post and Bloomberg Businessweek, women make up 45 percent of the NFL’s more than 150 million American fans.
Between 2009 and 2013, female NFL viewership grew 26 percent. And in just 2013, fantasy football leagues included 6.4 million women, a 10 percent jump from 2012.
Yet, it is surprisingly hard to find football books geared toward women. Seriously. When I started writing this blog, I immediately thought of two books: Catching Jordan and Dairy Queen. But I write YA, so I figured that explained why teen books were front and center in my mind. There must be tons of adult novels featuring female characters who love football, right? Wrong.
So if you’re a chick and you love football, please take a glance at the list below. I hope I save you some time digging through the bookshelves. And if you’re a football-loving writer looking for the concept of a new book—well, I think I’ve found an untapped niche.
Catching Jordan (Miranda Kenneally): There’s been a much-needed rise in contemporary YA romance lately. And if you’re looking for something a little more uplifting than star-crossed lovers dying of cancer (not that there’s anything wrong with that), why not try star-crossed quarterbacks?
Jordan Woods is captain and quarterback of her high school football team. She’s one of the boys looking for an athletic scholarship. Only when Ty Green moves to town, she risks not only losing her QB spot but her heart.
Dairy Queen (Catherine Gilbert Murdock): This is not only a great sports book, but a great book. Written by Murdock (sister of Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love), this story is as much about family as it is football. And it flips the classic romance cliché of a guy teaching a girl to play sports. (Picture his arms seductively wrapped around her as she tries to hold a golf club, baseball bat, pool cue, etc.). Instead, it’s the girl to teaching the guy to play football.
Fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk is a tough farm girl from a football-crazed family in Red Bend, Wisconsin. In addition to teaching a rival football player how to perfect his game, she’s also trying to navigate a fight with her best friend, learn why her younger brother has stopped talking, why her college-football-star brothers don’t call home, and why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the football team. It’s a rich layered story that moves fast.
Fifth Quarter: The Scrimmage of a Football Coach's Daughter (Jennifer Allen): If a memoir is more your speed, try this inside look into an NFL family from a female’s perspective.
George Allen was a top-ranked NFL coach throughout the sixties and seventies, coaching the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Washington Redskins. And Jennifer Allen is the daughter who was raised in a football-obsessed family. With a mother who tried to teach her feminine etiquette, Jennifer still dreamed of being the first female NFL quarterback and ultimately connecting with a father who thought only football mattered.
Nobody's Baby But Mine (Susan Elizabeth Phillips): At first glance, you might think, “Oh, great, a romance novel where the chick falls for a quarterback. Let me take a nap.” But wait! Consider this: Nobody's Baby But Mine has almost 20,000 ratings on Goodreads and nearly 900 reviews, giving it a rating of over 4 stars. It also has a 4-star Amazon rating with almost 300 reviews. How many “literary” books can say that?
Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby, and she’s decided since she has all the brains, she wants a daddy with some brawn. So she sets her sights on the Chicago Stars’ legendary quarterback, only her chosen athlete is a lot smarter than she assumes and not to happy to be used.
Playing With the Boys (Liz Tigelaar): While researching this blog post, I found that most of the YA football novels featuring girls have her playing QB. And even though that’s a position geared toward slender, agile athletes, it’s also a position that takes a lot of hits. Despite how much I love football, I know I wouldn’t want to be staring down a blitz. So I personally found it more realistic when this YA novel gave its female football star the position of kicker.
Lucy tries out for Beachwood High soccer, but despite her amazingly accurate kick, fails to make the team. So she tries out for the varsity football team. On the gridiron, Lucy feels strong and in control for the first time since her mother died. Only no one wants her on the team. Not the boys' coach, not her teammates, and especially not her overprotective dad.
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game (Michael Lewis): We all saw Sandra Bullock win that Oscar. So we know NFL star Michael Oher might have gone down a very different path if he hadn’t met the evangelical family that welcomed him into their home and introduced him to football. The influence the Tuohy family had on his life, especially his adopted mother Leigh Anne, can’t be denied. But I’ll warn you, the book isn’t all Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.
It features two storylines. One is about the rise of Michael Oher. The other is about, “how offensive football strategy has evolved over the past three decades in large part due to linebacker Lawrence Taylor's arrival in the 1980s and how this evolution has placed an increased importance on the role of the offensive left tackle.” It gets a bit technical. This is the guy who wrote Moneyball, after all. But that doesn’t overshadow the affect of a mother’s love.