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On fangirling: The struggles of being a female fan

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Imagine you’re sitting in a sports lounge on a chilly evening in November 2008, kicking back a few and watching your beloved Rangers play on several big screens. The crowd is good and the bar food is shamefully delicious. Early in the game, fan favorite Brandon Dubinsky fights with seasoned enforcer Dan Carcillo, and to you notice a 20-something girl in business casual screaming at the TV for Dubinsky to show his displeasure with Carcillo – except a bit more explicitly. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

If you’re anything like the lovely middle aged gentleman sitting to the table next to me on that night, it’s a mixture of terror and intrigue. The typical response to a female hockey (or any sport, really) fan is an assumption that you know nothing of the sport, you’re only watching to be cute for your boyfriend, you’re only watching to attract a boyfriend, you think player X is cute, or you really are a fan and that’s weird cause you should be out shopping for cute outfits. You know, for your boyfriend. Or to attract a boyfriend. Or player X. So what the heck is this girl doing screaming at the TV, right? She must have a thing for Dubi, she couldn’t possibly be a passionate fan…

Don’t get me wrong, there definitely are hardcore ‘fan girls’ (affectionately known as puckbunnies, skate chasers, etc) that make this topic difficult to explain or defend. It’s easy to assume a group that makes up a small percentage of a fanbase could be lumped together. But everyone knows what happens when you assume, and quite honestly it makes even the NHL look silly. Would anyone really want their sister wearing this? Come on.

The real struggle comes in when you start to love a player – or players – the same way your male counterparts love them. God help you if you mention that physically gifted athletes have awesome bodies, and if you notice that they have a great smile, you’re doomed to puckbunny-ville and the population is not one you want to be near. It’s frustrating to say the least. Meanwhile, your bros are screaming “shoot” when the Blueshirts don’t even have the puck, but they know more than you cause they don’t think Lundqvist is beautiful (and by the way, he is. Male or female, gay or straight, this is a simple fact you cannot deny).

At the end of the day, we’re all here for the sport. It’s why I watch as many games as humanly possible, to watch the boys skate and shoot and hit and save and just be incredible athletes. People who know the sport best aren’t dictated by their gender, they’re dictated by their passion for it. Men and women who are addicted to the atmosphere at the arena, who bleed for the name on the front of the sweaters no matter what pretty/ugly/endearing face is wearing it. We should all probably try to remember this next time we see a girl in a pink jersey.

And don’t worry, boys – when you’re falling in love with Hilary Knight in Sochi next month, we won’t judge you. Well, not too harshly anyway.

27 Responses to “On fangirling: The struggles of being a female fan”

  1. Kevin says:

    Pssh, Hilary Knight is no Amanda Kessel
    Great article Becky

  2. Matt Josephs says:

    Damn. I may have to watch women’s olympic hockey this year. If only they didn’t wear helmets with cages. 
    Seriously Becky good job with this article. I feel for girls and women who are true hockey fans yet get lumped in with “the fan girls”. It’s sad, and I know it sucks around playoff time if the Rangers are doing well because then seemingly everyone is tuned into the action and it’s even harder to tell who’s a true fan or not. 
     

  3. Brendan says:

    What, no mention of Margot Robbie’s recent appearance on Yahoo’s Puck Daddy and her ridiculously retarded quotes about the Rangers? Good post Becky!

  4. Bryan says:

    Call me crazy but I actually prefer female fans…maybe its just cause im a guy tho…
     

  5. Chris says:

    Amen.

  6. Steve says:

    Great article and can imagine how frustrating that must be.  If girls wear Rangers jerseys to attract boyfriends, I can’t say it’s a bad tactic though.  A girl in a Rangers jersey jumps 2 points easily, whether she intends for it to or not. In Margot Robbie’s case, she went from a 10 to a 12.  LGR. 

  7. Dave says:

    Becky for the win.

  8. RangerMom says:

    Good article, Becky. As a hockey (and sports) fan practically all my life, I just never let the boys get me down. I’ve found that, usually, it only takes some insightful remarks about a player’s tendency to pass rather than shoot, or a goalie’s weakness on the stick side, or (heaven forbid!) a fancystat or two, and any chirping quickly turns into a regular old sports conversation.
    Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that male athletes are some of the finest specimens of the human body that exist on the planet.

    • Becky says:

      Amen! It’s like watching the VS fashion show and telling the boys that they can ONLY focus on the fashion……. come on now :)

  9. VinceR says:

    Hell, it’s a crappy experience trying to explain to someone that Boyle does not indeed suck, and that’s without someone excusing me of doing so because they think I have a crush on him.
    My fiance is a Rangers fan…we are season ticket holders. She pays for her seat and looks forward to every game…and she’s usually the one more upset after a loss.  As far as watching the game she picks up on more things real time (pre replay) than most.
    For effs sake folks, it’s 2014…peeps need to get over some things.
    Keep fighting the good fight, Becky.

    • VinceR says:

      *accusing me of doing so (not excusing)

      • Becky says:

        your fiancee sounds like a wonderful lady – tell her to read the blog ;) and yeah, I don’t mind letting stupid remarks roll off my back. It’s actually less frustrating than hearing “SHOOOOOOOOOOT” when it’s not physically possible, followed by “WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT SHOT’

        • VinceR says:

          It would seem obvious that shooting directly into someone near the blue line and causing a break the other way is bad, or that a backhand shot from 45+ would probably not be very accurate or effective, but apparently these are more nuanced positions?

    • Dave says:

      Does said fiance read the blog? If not….wtf man? You’re slacking.

      • VinceR says:

        I work from home, I have all sorts of interwebbing going on :)  She works on her feet away from communication devices…alright, alright, I’ll give her a little push. 

  10. Zesta says:

    Womens hockey just got added to the schedule

  11. The Suit says:

    Hey Hilary, How you doin?

     

  12. cara says:

    Love this! and Thank you! I have to tell you I also come up with my own names for the players [Hags = "my friend carl" Zuccarello = "tiny squash"] and so on. Also, I may pretend my cat has a crush on Nash.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      Becky – What are some of your nicknames for Rangers’ players?  Please indulge.
      #Nothelping

      • Becky says:

        Hahaha well I have nicknames for nearly everything so ya know…. but most notably Pouliot is ‘Armsleeve’ cause I was pretty stunned to see that he’s got a large tattoo on one of his forearms…. otherwise they’re mostly normal. None are any more out of the ordinary than the nicknames the players give each other.

        • @Centerman21 says:

          You know, it freaks me out that Pouliot has the size, skating ability, speed, and willingness to be a 25-30 goal 50-60 point player but just not the consistency. It’s maddening. He could be an every day top 6 forward. If he began the season playing like he is now, he may have gotten to the 50 point mark. Armsleave is frustrating.

  13. Chuck A says:

    Do a Natasha Romanoff, and you’ll be respected…and feared

  14. @Centerman21 says:

    Not for nothing Phil Kessels sister is pretty cute too. I thought she was homely to say the least but she’s hot. I’m in love with every single one of the US female hockey team. Poke fun all you want. Those girls combine the best of 2 of the finer things in life. Women and hockey. Any one of those girls would cuddle on the couch and watch Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN. It’s just hard to find that type of lady. Too few and far between!

  15. Leigh (@NCCaniac42) says:

    THANK YOU.. THANK YOU.. As a big Hockey fan and a woman of a certain age.. I scream at my team like I am their deranged Mother.. And have to explain more than once to patrons in restaurants why YES I want that TV changed to the Hawks (or whatever else game is on) I will drive 11 hours to see my Pro or College Team play (Ferris State).  AND I am not ashamed to admit I know more than some of the male fans but know women that know WAY more than I do…

  16. Jess says:

    Guess I am in the minority here because if Becky wants people to take her seriously as a hockey fan then she should be talking about the issues affecting the franchise.

    I know several female writers who’s knowledge and ability to breakdown the game make many a male Ranger blogger look weak.  The best Wolfpack blogger is Laurie Carr who also is an expert on Russian/European players.

    Allyson Gronowitz when she wasn’t playing for Columbia’s women’s team was the editor of Stan Fischler’s hockey report. That is something most male writers wish they could intern at. Stef Gordon has forgotten more hockey than some 0f today’s Ranger bloggers. Never once have I ever heard them complain about puck bunnies but rather they want to talk about how come somebody failed to pick up the 3rd man high costing the team a goal.

    In other words Becky please write about what you think the Rangers need to be doing and let the puck bunnies be puck bunnies. 

    • Becky says:

      I appreciate hearing how you feel, Jess, however my ‘role’ here (if you want to put it that way) is to discuss happenings around the league or issues/events NHL/int’l-wide. I’m not in the front office, nor will I ever be, since that’s the part of the game that I don’t love. This isn’t my profession a la Laurie. I don’t expect you only take people seriously as fans if they are interning in the business.
      Also, I hope you didn’t take this as a rant about how I feel about puck bunnies. This is more in defense of female fans. I’m sorry if that point didn’t come across