It was about a year ago to the day I was asked to write a story on why girls watch hockey. I thought about it – for 22 seconds. I realized, in those 22 seconds, men and women watch the sport(s) of their choice for exactly the same reasons. Why would gender play a role?
I didn’t end up writing the article, but I did spend a considerable amount of time chronicling the steps I had to take to gain respect as a knowledgeable hockey fan.
The New York Rangers ran a piece on their official website today which appeared on Blueshirts United by Mirna Mandil. The post titled “A Girl’s Guide To Watching The Rangers” only lasted about an hour before it was taken down, but it hasn’t been lost. Thankfully Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog was on it’s toes and captured the goods before they were set to be destroyed.
Some of my favourite parts included waiting until a play was over to ask the men in the room a question as to not bother them and interrupt their happiness. Don’t worry ladies, if you miss the play because you weren’t watching but day dreaming about a 70% off sale, there’s always replay. Because really, if you’re not paying attention in the first place, you’ll understand exactly why there is a replay.
The boys are the superior hockey fan. There is no denying this in the eyes of Mirna. “You need to sense the tension at certain points in the game and let them do their jumping, screaming and cheering thing.” If this is the definition of a male fan, apparently I’m a male fan. By all means, please do not ask what is going on, it will really ruin the whole experience. If my sister asks me what’s going on in a game, jeez I never know what to tell her because I’m a girl and there are no men to ask in the room!
The most appalling part of Mirna’s post had to be the reassuring part where she mentioned not one man took the option to tell her to pound sand while the game was on. What a nice group of guys! “Before I wrote this article, I gave all the guys I spoke with the option of saying, “I don’t want her watching the game with me. It’s my sport, leave it alone.” Not a single one of them took it”. As a hockey fan, I do not even give anyone the option of kicking me out of the room. I do the kicking out if you try to change the channel. Insinuating hockey is a mans sport is discrediting the accomplishments and athletic achievements of the women who compete as professional hockey players, and at the Olympics.
May I remind you, Mirna, that Angela James and Cammi Granato were the first female inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Can I also mention the outstanding Women’s hockey programs Canada and the USA have put together during the Vancouver Olympics and continue to hone? And if I’m really going to make a point, Cassie Campbell won three medals for Canada along with her team of female hockey players in Turin (gold), Salt Lake City (gold), and Nagano (Silver). She has been a great addition to the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC since 2006.
Women aren’t new to hockey. If you’re watching hockey because you have a brother, boyfriend, or husband – Please note, mother and father were not options in Mirna’s article, arguably the most influential – then you really don’t want to watch it, so why even learn about it? This article belittles hockey just as much as it alienates female fans. For the Rangers to run with something like this was a huge mistake. But the most astonishing thing was how much backlash it received in just an hour. Men and women were equally disappointed at the offensive stylings of Mirna Mandil.
I’m not going to sit here and say this article really brings women back and makes them all look like fools. It doesn’t. It makes Mirna look like a fool. If you are going to sit in front of your computer and generalize all girls who watch “football” in their teams jersey, you’re the one I pity.
If there is a guide to watching hockey, it involves one step. Turn the game on. Proceed to enjoy, or yell mercilessly. Really, do your thing. Man or woman.