Way back in the early days of the AFL you would come across attempts by the league marketers to search for ways to engage women to take an interest in their sport. In what was largely a man’s domain, pro football – particularly a game fighting for recognition from fans of any either gender – were not bashful in trying to help female fans to get behind its teams by better understanding its game.
The Chiefs were no different with many initiatives for female fans. Do a search of any number of AFL publications and you’ll find similar attempts to engage the ladies from all eight teams.
One Elinor Kain, a graduate of Smith College, and a professional aeronautical engineer based out of New York, went so far as to pen a nationally circulating pro football newsletter and garnered the position of public relations head of the National Art Museum of Sport located in New York.
She griped that men were “taking all the fun out of football by making it complicated,” a familiar charge by ladies at the time, and she went about constructing a teaching syllabus for gals (that’s how folks talked back then, so excuse me) who had an interest in football.
Said Kain, “learning about football from a man is a little like learning to drive …easier from a stranger.” Going further, she wasn’t fearful in accusing the male species of “subconsciously trying to keep the football field the last no-woman’s land.”
Looking to simplify the 1965 AFL championship between the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, for example, Kain noted the importance of the word, “spread,” as a reference “to wide, to the left and to the right.” Today, the term wide receiver has been replaced by “wideout,” giving notice that Kain was onto something.
Kain noted that the Bills two best receivers were injured and hadn’t been able to play for the last two months leading up to the title game with the Chargers. “The left end was Glen Bass; you might say that Bass was good on a hook or a fly. The wide end on the right side was Elbert Dubenion who everybody in Billville digs the most. [Sounds like Ms. Kain isn’t bashful about dropping some of the blossoming lingo of the era, as in, “digs the most.”] If Roberson, Elbert’s substitute ever drops a pass from Jackie Kemp, Bills’ QB and very much the Steve McQueen type [remember him old timers?], you might comment, “He’s no Elbert!” Knowing about the visitors’ injuries is like knowing about hemlines and hair-dos.”
You go girl!
Ms. Kain goes on to identify the importance of guard play “because they are the last players a girl would learn about; a guy would assume she really knows her game if she talked about the offensive line.”
But still being a woman of her era, she still can say, “blocking is just like a lady in a supermarket, when she uses her shopping cart to get a place in the checking line.” (Can’t you just see the response of women rights activists to such a statement today?)
Whatever, a little blocking goes a long way, says Kain. More importantly she adds: “Chatting about it and you’ll be sure to be invited back next year.”
As if she had reason to have to “ask.”