As debates and discussions on the possibility of another NHL work stoppage escalate, fans have been thrust into the spotlight by both the League and the NHLPA in their shameful pleas for our support. And some of you really seem to be buying all this solidarity crap, but that’s another rant. Anyway, did you know that many of you don’t even fit the criteria for what the NHL and NHLPA consider a fan to be? Read on, my pretties.
Maybe my indifference, or rather my unbiased rage, toward both parties comes easily to me because I know that when @GenericNHLPlayer tweets about what “the fans” deserve, etc, etc that they are not actually referring to what I, or anyone like me, deserve. In fairness, in my case, I’m probably not a hockey fan anymore. I think I’ve become somewhat of a scrutinizing spectator over the years, but that’s another story. As for you, namely the women reading this post, most of you are considered non-fans by the League, the Players, and probably to most of your fellow hockey fans as well.
Proving the “realness” of a hockey fan is something that I’ve always found to be ridiculous, and I have been quite vocal about this subject on this site. Obviously these issues extend well beyond the question of what makes someone a “puck bunny” or not. Fans criticize each other for whether or not their individual dedication to the game meets some sort of minimum requirement. How many games you see a year, how many years you’ve supported your team, how many years you played the game, or even which stance you take on rule changes or controversial calls (for example) all factor in to what the fan community seems to regard as clout. I don’t know about you, but I thought being a hockey fan meant that you were an individual that derived some sort of pleasure from your involvement in the game. Call me crazy, but I didn’t realize that it had anything to do with background or personal athleticism… Among other things.
Being a female in the world of the hockey fan is even harder, as there seem to be many factors that others try to hold against us in an attempt to revoke our membership to this club. What you wear to hockey games, where you sit at a hockey game, who you choose to spend your time with after a hockey game, and a plethora of other ridiculous restrictions are imposed on women at the hockey rink. My favourite is the jersey rule. If you don’t wear a jersey, you’re a puck bunny. If you don’t wear the right jersey (i.e. a jersey that isn’t pink), you’re a puck bunny. The list goes on. If the clothes don’t make the man, then why do the clothes make the hockey fan?
Now you could argue (and I do) that it is usually other (jealous?) female hockey fans that impose such ridiculous rules on other women, but really the way women are regarded by the League and the Players is not much different. OK I know what some of you naive women are already going to say. “No one mistakes me for a puck bunny. I know this, that, and the other about the game. If people think you are a puck bunny, it is probably because YOU act like one.” Wrong. Sure, you may have plenty of male friends that know not to mess with you when it comes to hockey trivia, but I can guarantee that you have all been labelled a puck bunny at some point or another just for simply being at the rink.
Consider that these thoughts have likely gone through your head at some point in your lifetime:
#1 A guy sitting in the lower bowl in a suit is obviously a fan sitting in corporate seats. A female sitting in the lower bowl in professional/nice attire is obviously a puck bunny trying to impress the players.
#2 A guy that travels around the league to watch hockey games is a HUGE FAN. A female that travels around the league to watch hockey games (ahem) is a STALKER.
#3 A guy approaches the autograph table to get an autograph. A female approaches the autograph table to get a phone number.
Obviously, I know these statements are bullshit, and so do you, but trust me, most women in this League, or rather this game, are completely devalued and regarded as nothing more than a giant deep throat that will latch on to any and every hockey player, if allowed to get close enough. And just so we’re clear, choosing to use said deep throat does not magically erase all your years of dedication, or the volumes of useless sports trivia you have amassed. Blow on, ladies. Blow on.
Using my immense Paint skills that you have no doubt come to admire, I have created a pretty accurate flow chart of who is considered a fan at first glance and who isn’t. It’s kind of sad that men are automatically regarded as fans (when so many love to take deep whiffs of the jock), but women are guilty (of puck bunnyish desires) until proven innocent. If you think this is a pile of crap, then it’s time you wake up and smell the bullshit.
The worst part is that this really does extend to the League and isn’t merely restricted to pettiness within the fan community. While I was working for Maple Leaf Sports female employees were treated much differently than male employees. It didn’t matter how many hours you clocked in while locked far away from the players in your little cubicle, as soon as the players were in the building, the women under the age of 30 were mysteriously sent away on various ridiculous errands. We didn’t do anything to warrant such mistrust, yet there it was. Yes, even I was on my best behaviour while working there!
Now this is purely surface profiling of women, but, again, why do female fans have to prove themselves to others before they can earn the hockey fan stripes? Obviously, the League/NHLPA would also devalue certain male fans as well. I would think fans that can’t afford to buy tickets or merchandise would be low on the list of “fans that deserve better.” So there you have it, folks! Women and the financially unstable – the non-fans of the NHL.