It’s no surprise. Hockey has always been a male-dominated sport. Even with North America’s recent creation of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), it is still no comparison to the National Hockey League. The women’s league has 4 teams. The men’s league has 30. The women’s highest paid player makes $25,000 per season; the average men’s player makes 2.4 million dollars per season.
It’s no surprise. Hockey isn’t the only sport where men dominate and women are slowly closing the gap; just this week Dawn Braid became the first full-time female coach in the NHL, and just last year Sarah Thomas became first full-time female official in the NFL. Although these two women have paved steps toward women becoming more involved in their sports, another very seemingly old battle that women who love their sport, hockey in the case of this article, still face: getting just respect as hockey fans from men. Simply stated, some men can’t fathom the idea that women can actually love hockey.
To the men who don’t understand that women love hockey too,
Remember in 2010 when the Canadian Olympic hockey team won gold vs. the USA? I was a bandwagon fan apparently, only cheering for the USA because I was American. It wasn’t because I knew the shield Brooks Orpik brought to my Pittsburgh Penguins for years and what he could offer in another Olympic game. It wasn’t because I knew Patrick Kane had just won the Stanley Cup the prior year and still is considered one of the best American hockey players of this era. It wasn’t because I knew Ryan Kesler was one of the best players for the Vancouver Canucks even though in the prior two years, the Canucks lost in the quarterfinals back-to-back.
As a woman, it doesn’t matter how much I follow hockey, or love it, because any time I say one statistic wrong to certain men, my knowledge of the game is defunct and untrue. Because to be hockey fan to some men, means women must know everything about hockey, back to the days of pond hockey in the 1800s.
Fact is, women can love a sport and not know everything about it. It’s not about what you know, but why you enjoy the sport. To the men who don’t understand that women love hockey too, understand that I, and every other female hockey fan, love what you love.
I love big hits that send players to the penalty box, only for the other team to score on the powerplay.
I love sick NHL 16’-like passes that seem unreal but somehow click between two sticks and passed a Vezina-winning-goalie for an overtime goal.
I love 15-round shootouts where I lose sleep to watch my team get those crucial 2 points.
I love July 1st, when free agency begins, the Hunger Games-like signings and trades start, and I cross my fingers hoping my favorite players stay on my team.
I love to buy memorabilia, more than just girly fitted tees and NHL-inspired jewelry. I actually own 10 men’s jerseys for your information, and they are all not of Sidney Crosby.
I love picking up a stick myself, clutching it with my two hands, shooting a puck, and pretending like I’m winning the Stanley Cup.
To the men who don’t understand that women love hockey too, sex has nothing to with somebody’s capability of loving anything. I love hockey, and no set of statistics I’m not sure of, my inability to name every player on every roster, my lack of knowing where the puck is going to be like Wayne Gretzky would know, or your misunderstanding will tell me otherwise.