Even today I'm still in disbelief at the Rangers decision to post their infamous "Girls' Guide to Watching Rangers Hockey." Hearing Rangers will now be forcing female fans to take a Blueshirts knowledge test before allowing them into MSG. Better start studying that guide ladies.
In all seriousness, man you women were pissed yesterday. And I don't blame you. That was beyond denegrating. So to help with the healing process, I decided to post this response to the "guide" from reader Jessica M.:
I am not a hockey player. Never have been. Like many male hockey fans, I, a female, do not posses the skills we so enjoy watching on the ice. These facts make me no less avid a lover of the game, nor less knowledgeable about how it works. I am simply a fan. One day I would like that to be just a fact of my life, not something considered “cute”, not something I constantly need to defend the reality of. Yes, I know what icing is, no I do not like the loser point, yes, I do think fighting is a necessary part of the game.
My family has had season tickets to the New York Rangers for over 40 years. I have been attending games since I was a young girl. I was hooked immediately and deeply. It has been, and always will be, my number one sport. I have been to just about every game I attended with my single mom. She introduced me to the game of hockey. I was at the Garden for Matteau to wrap one around the net and to see Mess raise the Cup with unimaginable joy on his face. After one of the many lockouts in my lifetime, I was there to see the Rangers raise the Stanley Cup Champions banner. I won’t even go into all the rough seasons and moments I shared with my team. I know what being a Rangers fan means.
When I was in junior high and high school in the 90s I suffered plenty of taunts for my hockey fandom. Some coming from those too ignorant of the game to keep up, most from other hockey fans that couldn’t deal with a tiny little girl knowing as much or more than them. In high school I was taunted as a lesbian with the only reasoning being that I constantly wore hockey jerseys and knew more about sports than I did “female” pursuits. Thankfully, these were things I could easily laugh off as juvenile nonsense.
I went to college in Boston, a hockey town for a hockey girl. Slightly more mature attitudes prevailed there and I could easily parlay my hockey knowledge into male adoration. However, there would still always be the need for the pop quiz. The test to prove that I wasn’t a female just faking it to be cool (and really, would I have picked hockey of all sports if I wanted an in with the majority of the male population?). This indignity continued well through my 20s in bars from the Causeway to Hell’s Kitchen. I’d like to thank all those inquisitive boys for helping me learn the type of men-children not to date.
In my professional life I have interned for the Rangers, worked for the NHL, and run a free hockey program for youth in Harlem. Love of the game has never been just a hobby for me. There were certainly situations in all of those endeavors which made me question how much my sex was holding me back. There is and will sadly probably always be a boys’ club working in sports. That is just reality. However, I have always chosen to believe that exists on a case by case basis. There are opportunities out there for us but sometimes you also need a little luck to be working alongside the more open-minded. I did a lot of travel to various NHL cities and organizations and all are certainly not created equal in their approach to employing and marketing to women. Whether it be a team, league, or youth hockey program, women will have a difference experience than their male counterparts in the same roles. If she is somewhat young and marginally attractive a woman has certainly had to hear the unjust attack of “puck bunny”. We always know there is a little something extra we need to prove to belong.
There have been several occasions I have considered writing something akin to a female’s perspective on being a hockey fan. Write what you know and all. The problem is it is not about some generic female perspective. Some list of dos and don’ts that are more about how we look to men than about our own passion and experience. Some anecdotes about how being a female fan makes us different. The only way I feel different than my male counterparts is not in my reactions to the game I love but in the reactions of others to me.
I love hockey. I watch games constantly. I have favorite players. I hate the entirety of the non-Rangers contingent of the Atlantic Division and take great joy in each new Flyers goaltending joke. That is a tradition that was passed down to me from my grandparents. I did not grow up with a father or with brothers. It was the women who really hooked me. One of my favorite memories of my now passed grandmother is her constant insistence between puffs of her cigarette that Mike Richter had an incurable five-hole weakness and the Rangers power play was never gonna get better (oh how some things never change). In my family we were all just hockey fans, male or female.
So can we stop trying to be cute? Stop making suggestions about how the ladies can learn better for their men? Can we stop with the pink team apparel until there is actually a team whose color that is? Stop with the adding of rhinestones and glitter on female merchandise? Stop only making the really cool stuff in men’s sizes? Stop putting horribly researched lists of hot hockey players in women’s magazines and maybe instead do an actual profile on a player and the sport. Ladies, can we most of all stop doing these things to ourselves? Can we expect better? Demand better. We are not female fans. We are just hockey fans, so happy to have our game back on the ice, telling ourselves it will be just as sweet if our team holds the Cup in a 48 game season as in any other.
...amazing response Jessica. Way to bring the thunder!
...i can't tell you how many times I've been corrected by a female on the blog. And not once have I been insulted or embarrassed because to me there's no gender, race or religion when it comes to the Rangers. All I see is red, white and blue.
To the Rangers credit, they have apologized for the mishap...
Today's article was posted by a fan contributor. We determined article was inappropriate & took it down. We apologize to all offended fans.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 26, 2013
...if nothing else, the Rangers succeeded in stopping their fans from talking about how dreadful the power play is.
...to me this apology should end it. It was an error in judgement with no malicious intent. Time to move on. So how about that terrible power play?
Ladies who are into the Rangers know more about hockey than any other ladies south of the snow border.
My Mom was a hockey fan when I was growing up...my Dad used to get tickets from someone that were right behind the net in the old Garden - first row next to the goal judge...one of my greatest hockey thrills as a kid was opening an issue of Hockey Illustrated magazine and seeing a picture of Gerry Cheevers in net against the Rangers, and you could see my Mom clearly with her nose pressed up against the glass screaming something at her nemesis - a real hockey fan.
FANTASTIC response. And kudos to you, Kevin, for posting it here.
"Ladies, can we most of all stop doing these things to ourselves? " - this is sort of the crux of the matter from my perspective. That a woman wrote the offending article is amazing to me - if we keep patronizing ourselves, how can we expect anyone else NOT to?
And yes, I think the Rangers organization handled this as well as they could, so kudos to them as well. Its over and done with, as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks for only seeing the red, white & blue, and for showing your female readers the same awful treatment you give the guys, lol. I kid, I kid!