Portrait by CHICHI UBIÑA
By MICHELE GRAHAM
Her company name says it all. Betsy Berns Korn is the voice of sports fandom to thousands of women. Along with her the blog and app FemaleFan.com, Betsy has authored three books on sports, did a stint with the NFL, and has appeared frequently in the media and on panels.
You could say Betsy had no choice in becoming immersed in sports. This California native had three older brothers who, lore has it, cried when their baby sister arrived. They were hoping for a fourth brother so they could have even teams. After getting over their disappointment, they set out on a mission to school Betsy in sports, especially football, which Betsy says, “They obsessed over. I had charts in my rooms and they would test me with pop quizzes.”
While getting her MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School, the term “football widow” gained traction and Betsy spotted an opportunity. She drafted what she refers to as a “dummy’s guide to football.” Betsy’s research included talking to former Minnesota Viking and Chicago Bear players who gave insight into strategy and players’ thinking. Her book, The Female Fan’s Guide to Pro Football, and a poll she conducted that was published in USA Today got the NFL’s attention. Betsy signed on to conduct a Football 101 instructional series across the country that brought together female fans and each city’s pro players. Shortly after came “The Ultimate Female Football Fan” contest in conjunction with Norwegian Cruise Lines. The foray into football was such a success it didn’t take long for motorsports and thoroughbred horseracing to come calling for their own books.
Betsy’s approach with FemaleFan.com is to provide enough info to keep up with water cooler (or coffee bar!) sports talk and to focus on human interest stories. “Women get more involved if they know who they are rooting for. It puts a human face to the athlete.” Betsy’s rule about photos on her site: they have to show players’ faces; it makes them real. In the case of football that means no face masks.
Betsy’s faves these days: The Williams Sisters in tennis. “Women’s tennis is really exciting and the Williams have transformed the sport.” In basketball she’s obsessed with the Golden State Warriors (you can take the girl out of California…). And for Super Bowl Sunday? “The record seven time Super Bowl appearance by the Patriots’ coach player combo Belichick-Brady is incredible. But I also love that this is Matt Ryan’s – the Atlanta Falcon’s quarterback and likely NFL MVP – first Super Bowl appearance. You just can’t miss this!”