Yesterday, someone at the New York Rangers official fan site Blueshirts United thought it was a great idea to post something called A Girl’s Guide to Hockey, a condescending, poorly written slideshow of horror that assumed girls are silly little creatures who know nothing about sports but want to impress their men by feigning interest. The worst part? It was written by a female.
This subject always comes up again right around the Super Bowl. Tons of articles on how women can fit in at Super Bowl parties or what activities females can take part in while their masculine, he-men counterparts watch the big, bad ball game on the tv.
Someone asked me to address the issue.
I wrote this last year at American McCarver when a bunch of females thought a site called “While The Men Watch” was a progressive, interesting thing to do. You know. Stuff women can do while the men watch hockey. Stuff women can do to pretend they know something about the game. Stuff women can do to use their sexuality to lure their man away from the game. Because females don’t like sports. Females apparently know nothing about hockey.
Anyway, this is what I wrote then and the sentiment obviously still stands.
Back in the early 80s, I joined a baseball fantasy league. It was called a Rotisserie League back then, before the internet and before everyone and their uncle paid big bucks to enter fantasy drafts sponsored by beer companies. I was the only girl in the league, just me and about eight other guys sitting in someone’s basement drafting players. They let me in reluctantly because, you know, I’m a woman. What do women know about sports? Well, if knowledge is a weapon I came to that draft armed and dangerous. And I won the inaugural season of that fantasy baseball league. I would go on to win the title twice more before I stopped playing.
I’ve been a sports fan since I was old enough to know how to say “Let’s go Yankees!” It was mostly my mother, not my father, who got me into sports, who gave me my love of baseball and hockey. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I began to feel like men just were not taking me seriously as a sports fan. Even though I could name every single player in the NHL, their position, jersey number and most of their stats. Even though I could hold my own in a debate about the designated hitter. I was a girl. My opinions didn’t count.
When I went back to school I majored in Athletic Administration, a then pilot program at St. John’s University, which later became the very popular sports management major (I changed my major to English later, feel free to make jokes at my expense). I worked in the Sports Administration office. I traveled with the hockey team while covering sports for the university paper. I spent a summer working for the New York Yankees. I lived for sports. Yet I was always just a girl. What could I possibly know about sports? The guys I tried to talk sports with dismissed me as a groupie. The girls I tried to talk sports with just wanted to talk about what players I’d like to fuck (none, thanks). It was frustrating. The only women who understood me were my mother and my sister. The only guys who took me seriously were the close friends who watched hockey games with me, the few guys who loved to spend an afternoon at Shea Stadium booing the Mets and drinking beer.
It wasn’t until recently that I felt like women were making strides as sports fans. I don’t know if there are more of us now or if we’re just more vocal because of the internet, but we are out there in strong numbers and I’ve finally begun to feel that acceptance. Nobody on twitter dismisses me from a conversation about hockey just because I have tits. Nobody ignores my feelings about the DH because I’m a female. If you look at any sports conversation on twitter you can see us right in the thick of it. We are many. We are legion. We are taken seriously as sports fans. Hey, look at me. I’m in an otherwise all male club here at American McCarver.
And then along comes the women of While the Men Watch.
Let that name sink in a bit. While the Men Watch. Sports. While the men watch sports. Because that’s what men do. Men watch sports. Women do other stuff while men watch sports. And the women who run this site, well they want you to do the things girls do while the boys watch their hockey games.
With column titles like “Five Sex Games For Hockey Season” and “Sex on Game Day: Does He Lock it Up or Love You Down?” it’s like Cosmo meets ESPN. And it’s not pretty. Oh, the girls on the site may be pretty. But the underlying theme of While the Men Watch? I find it pretty damn ugly.
Girls, if you don’t like sports, it’s ok. No one is going to like you less because you don’t care about the Stanley Cup. But there is no reason to make it difficult for those of us who do like sports to be taken seriously. Go find something else to do on game night. I don’t know, throw a scrapbooking party. Go shop for shoes. Keep perpetuating the stereotype of female sports fans. Or you can do us all a favor and step away from the sports.
I don’t know, maybe you feel threatened by the women who actually do love sports. You think we’re out to steal your men or at least their attention. I’ll let you in on a secret: we’re not. We watch sports because we love the games. We watch sports because we enjoy them. And we’re too busy keeping score or counting hits or, you know, just rooting for our teams to be thinking about stealing your man’s attention. There’s no need for you to come around, step into the middle of our conversation and start shaking your tits. We’re just trying to watch the game. You’re just trying to ruin it for us. Take your little sex tips and bring them to Cosmo. That’s where your kind of columns belong.
That’s not a compliment.