I'm probably not the target market for the National Rugby League's Women in League initiative despite the fact I'm a woman. Which is probably why I find the whole thing rather condescending.
The Women in League round kicks off on Monday, a week-long celebration of ''the role of women in rugby league'', culminating in next weekend's round 10 matches where, no doubt, team kits will be pinked up, there'll be plenty of shots of women in the stands and promotion about how family friendly the game is. You can even vote for your favourite son, an NRL player (and there's not one Canberra Raider on the finalists' list) who ''acts as a role model for mothers and families; someone who continues to impress us on the field, however their off-field characteristics embody what it is we love about rugby league''.
Is this really what women want from the game?
Not the ones I'm talking to. They want a quality game, one that showcases skills and speed and toughness, both mental and physical, they want contests, and value for money if they've forked out the dollars to actually attend the game. If they're watching on television, they want less waffle, less crosses to the bookmakers, less flibbertigibbets with blonde hair on the sidelines. Less Phil Gould. More shots of Sonny Bill with his shirt off.
These are women who want their sons to play the great game - and it still is despite all its faults - because it is a great game. A team sport that embodies all the qualities that a team sport should, teamwork, mateship, achievement, losing with grace, winning with humility. Women who would not hesitate because they think their sons might get hurt, or be swayed by poor role models. There's more chance of both those things happening off the field.
I think it's a great thing that the NRL is acknowledging the role women - there are more than 140,000 directly involved with league, as administrators, players, coaches, employees, volunteers or club members, according to the spiel. Quadruple that at least, if you add in all the mothers, wives, girlfriends and mistresses each player brings along. Kudos to them all. I've done my share of canteen duty, water bottle running and being the supportive partner over the years. But I don't expect any special thanks. I do it because I enjoy the game, and enjoy watching the efforts of whoever it is I'm there watching. Yes, I'm a woman, but in this context, it doesn't really matter.
So who is it exactly that the NRL wants to entice with this initiative?
I guess it's women who don't attend games, mothers who hesitate to let their sons play. Bums on seats and future junior members, both important things to the administrators of the game, sure. But is a woman, who has no real interest in the game, going to be seduced by the offer of a ''half price for your better half ticket'' to WIN Stadium to watch the Dragons play the Eels or follow the Raiders to Shark Park for the chance to get entry to the Pink Pen and a pink scarf and beanie? Not likely.
My solution, if they're chasing the mothers, would be to channel the funds into schools. Whose child hasn't come home all worked up after a school visit from an NRL player (warning, these days it's more likely to be those pesky Greater Western Sydney orange ballet dancers)? Get the players, and no not the under-20s, into schools. Kids want Terry Campese and David Shillington.
Another initiative the NRL could better plug is Rugby League Reads, which uses the game to promote literacy. It's been running since 2010 and has reached more than 300,000 children, breaking down stereotypes about both reading and rugby league. Just this week Pan Macmillan, the partnership publisher, put out a new series of Footy Fables, think Willie Mason as ''Willie-ella'', Benji Marshall as one of ''The Three Little Tigers'' and Billy Slater and Cameron Smith as ''Hansel and Gretel'' and you get the idea.
If I were a mother of a reluctant reader, which I am, and he came home with a rugby-league-themed book, enthusiastic for both the game and reading, that would give me more warm, fuzzy thoughts about the game than any pink jersey.
But the NRL has to be publicly seen to doing something affirmative. Tick the pink box and move on.