If you go

What: "Football 101 for Women" at the University of Colorado

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 16

Where: Dal Ward Athletic Center, University of Colorado campus, Boulder

Cost: $50

More info: bit.ly/1zbckyR

Some University of Colorado alumni aren't thrilled about the school's "Football 101 for Women" clinic because they say it plays to stereotypes that female fans don't know about or aren't interested in sports.

University officials, however, say the class is sophisticated and is not intended to be condescending to women.

The three-hour class will include an "interactive clinic consisting of meetings, film study and skill stations taught by (coach Mike) MacIntyre and the rest of the CU football coaches," according to an emailed newsletter called Buffs Blast.

The women-only event, which costs $50 a head, will provide a "comfortable setting" for women to learn about CU football, according to the newsletter. Each participant also receives a gift and refreshments.

"It's singling out women as if they don't understand how to do things," said Lindsay Howard, a 2002 CU graduate. "It's hard to fully articulate, aside from the fact that it felt like a cute little pat on the head. 'We're gonna teach you how this sport works.'"


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Howard, who is vice president of television for APA Talent and Literacy Agency in Los Angeles, said she was shocked that the school that set her on a path toward management at a prestigious company would teach girls and women to see themselves as less than or different from men in their sports knowledge.

"It's not 1950; it's 2014," she said. "That was the most basic slap in the face in the naming of that class."

Cover 2 defense

CU athletic department spokesman Dave Plati said the campus has been hosting the class since the mid-1990s and has not heard any complaints about it.

CU isn't alone in trying to reach out to women. The University of Tulsa, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Connecticut, University of Notre Dame and others host similar courses.

According to statistics compiled by Scarborough Research, women make up 45 percent of fans of the NFL, and Plati said CU saw classes like this one as a way to connect with female football fans.

He said the class covers complex topics such as the advantages of a cover 2 defense.

"You won't hear about the very basics of the game, such as a touchdown is worth six points," he said.

He added that many women become friends with the coaching staff through the class.

Buffs football coach MacIntyre said he's hosted similar clinics at Ole Miss and San Jose State.

"The ladies really enjoyed it, it gives them more knowledge of the game," MacIntyre said in the newsletter. "They'll learn a lot about the game, and they'll be able to meet our staff. Some will know a lot about football, and some won't, but either way it really helps them watch and understand the game and understand what our players go through."

Drop 'for women'

When 1996 CU graduate Sarah McLaughlin saw a post about the class on Facebook, she initially thought it was a joke.

McLaughlin, who also holds an MBA from UCLA, grew up a fan of New York teams and started playing sports when she was 3, she said.

McLaughlin works as a brand strategist and said the image CU is trying to promote is one that she feels doesn't respect women.

She was recently asked to donate money to the university, but she said she won't be sending any money to Boulder anytime soon.

"It makes me embarrassed that the university would think this is a good idea," she said. "It seems very medieval or backwards. Very archaic in how they think about women's understandings of sports."

One way to make everyone happy, said Out Boulder executive director Mardi Moore, would be for the university to drop "for women" from the name of the class.

Out Boulder, an education and advocacy group for the LGTBQ communities in Boulder, recently called on the Bolder Boulder 10K race to stop using the word "sissies" in its marketing materials because it made fun of traits that are "problematically and stereotypically" associated with women.

"Football is a complex game, and it's much easier to enjoy when you understand, so having the class is a fantastic idea," Moore said. "But obviously people are going to be perplexed that in this day and age, CU thinks that education of football should be aimed at women. Being a woman, I know I need some education in football, but I also have several male friends who need education in football. I don't think we stand alone."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com.