Do you live in Chicago? Are people around you talking about the upcoming NFL season and the city’s beloved Bears? Are you a bit of a novice in the X’s and O’s of the game and don’t want to ask your male friends what a ‘nickel defense’ is? Or maybe you’re pretty darned savvy about football, but baseball, not so much.
Well, Chicago, Monica Murphy-Vargas, a busy mother of 15-month-old twins, is here to help! She’s recently launched SportsDivas, Inc., a website that she says is “the answer for busy women who want to learn and follow sports, but are unsure how to start, what to ask, or where to go.”
Currently focused on the Chicago sports market, Sports Divas covers the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Blackhawks and the Bulls—for now. Monica has plans to expand into other cities and, after you read this interview, I’ll bet you’ll agree we’re going to see similar sites for women spring up all across the country very soon!
HGL: Tell us a little about how you came up with the idea for Sports Divas.
MMV: I spent most of my career in sports in sales and marketing. I was with ESPN for almost six years and then I worked for Comcast here in Chicago and oversaw their sports ad sales for another five years. When I first took the job with ESPN, I was in my 20’s, and I was a sports fan and knew a lot about sports but not at the level I was expected to. I had a huge territory in the Midwest where I was expected to roll into these markets and be well-versed on not only but what Chicago was doing, but what Detroit was doing, or Kansas City. I remember just being overwhelmed thinking, “How do I learn this quickly?” I spent all my time just beefing up my knowledge and all the while, I kept thinking, “There’s got to be an easier way than trying to decipher headlines.”
HGL: And most of the time the only way is to ask a guy.
MMV: Right, but a lot of times I think women are too intimidated to ask or admit that they don’t know what’s going on with a game or the league or how the season works, and they’re afraid to ask questions when they’re at games with other people. With Sports Divas, I want to create an environment that’s empowering and not intimidating, but yet relevant to what women want to know.
HGL: So how is what Sports Divas covers different from what a woman would get at ESPN.com, Bleacher Report, NFL.com, or another similar site?
MMV: Women want to know what the fuss is about and there’s really no resource for women if they want to start following a certain sport or if they want to kind of cut through the clutter and find out what they really need to know. If you look at all these other sports outlets and media, they assume that the reader is already an educated fan, and a very educated fan because more and more, they try to one-up each other with breaking news, in-depth interviews, and what they know.
There are a lot of women who are not so much interested in the play-by-play or the heavy stats or the statistics coming out of the sport or the game—they just want to know why the hype and what’s the story. I think there’s a real opportunity to speak to women in a style that they’re going to appreciate and enjoy that’s also educational and empowering.
HGL: So let’s talk about football, since we’re on the edge of the new NFL season. How will you cover the Bears this season?
MMV: Our goal is to cover anything that sports fans are talking about, should know about, are buzzing about, what’s ahead, and what to look for. In the pre-season, we previewed and recapped all the Bears pre-season games. Last week we did a piece that focused on which players are in the hot seat and who’s on the roster that’s being cut down. We’ll be doing the preview of the final roster, what you need to know, and the depth and positions and names.
During the season, we’ll do a Cheat Sheet every Friday that will go out about the Bears game on Sunday. One of our Bears beat writers is a nurse out in Los Angeles. She’s going to do a “Nurse’s Corner” column each week where she’ll profile one player each week – what you should know about him — and then prescribe some proverbial medicine, whether that’s for added success on the field or help in the love department.
HGL: Do you have something that focuses on all the sports ‘happenings’ in Chicago?
MMV: Yes, we just launched “The Weekend Roster,” which is basically a girl’s guide to sports for the upcoming weekend in a newsletter. This city is just crazy on the weekends during the Fall because of all the games and parties and the bars. We’re really rolling out “The Weekend Roster” with the goal of “Hey, do you know that there are five great games on at noon on Saturday?” And did you know that, in addition to Bears and Packers on Sunday, it’s also Cowboys-Redskins?”
HGL: So you want to let women know what games they should look for and why?
MMV: Exactly. It’s an essential go-to guide – and there are men reading it too because no one’s aggregating that content and condensing it down – but with a woman’s slant.
HGL: Women are inherently social—what about social events for women to watch the games together and things like that?
MMV: True—and we’re growing through social media and partnerships we’re establishing in the marketplace with other women’s groups. Plus, we’re starting to roll out these events called ‘Sports in the City’. We just finished up a fantasy football event and we’ve now got two different leagues that are drafting with all these women who have never played fantasy football before. But they came to the Sports Divas event and learned it and now playing!
HGL: That’s a great idea! Women are definitely intimidated by fantasy leagues.
MMV: The thing is, they shouldn’t be intimidated. With fantasy, you don’t have to be a football nut or an NFL genius in order to play. The computer does so much of it for you. But if you have one of the best quarterbacks and you’re playing defense that week and they’re blitzing, then you’re going to have problems, whether you’ve got Aaron Rodgers or not! I always tell women to play because the computer prompts you in everything you do, it’s super easy, but you always become a fan.
HGL: What’s your next event that Chicago ladies can look forward to attending?
MMV: We’re hosting a “Game Day 101″ event at Rockit Burger Bar on Thursday, September 13th for the Bears-Packers game. We’ll talk about why this is the best team the Bears have had in 10 years, why the Bears/Packers rivalry exists, and teach the fundamentals of the game and what you need to know about the Bears vs. Packers match-up that evening — all with a woman’s style and perspective of course!