Editor Note: Running this blog has let us to meet a lot of interesting folks and other hockey bloggers and fans. This post was written by one of our friends, Jessica Merighi, who we met during the 2011 Stanley Cup run while trolling Canuck fans outdoors (meeeeemories). She approached us a week ago with a guest post idea that we loved so here it is. Also note, she'll shank you if you talk shit about Chris Kelly… we have the scars to prove it…
Ramblings of a Pink Hat: The Saga of the Female Sports Fan
By Jessica Merighi
I see you the second I walk in. You’re wearing a Cam Neely sweatshirt, slouched over the bar next to one of your boys drinking a Coors light. In my high heels, black skinnies and knit sweater you at first, look at me like I’m a fucking unicorn. What’s the matter hun? Never see a woman in a sports bar before? This is Boston isn’t it?
You give me the up down as I find a seat at a stool as far away from you as I can get. I lean in and order a drink, asking the bartender what I missed. He gives me the run down, expressing anger over the “dump the puck” maneuver our team likes to do. You’re still eying me. The bartender glances over at you before saying to me. “I’m going to grab your beer, miss, but the second he gives you trouble, you holler ok?”
I nod and he walks away. The second he’s gone you swoop in.
“Hot date tonight?” you ask.
“No, “I reply, “Just got out of work. Here to catch the game.”
That’s when it happens-like clockwork. You laugh. You look over at your boy and you share a look of disbelief.
Those were the days my friend…
I am not alone in this scenario. It happens in cities all over the country, at bars and venues, for hockey fans and baseball fans. Hell, I’m sure chick Manchester United fans have the same problem-The second they talk sports to a guy, they immediately have to prove their knowledge.
“Who’s your favorite player?”
“How long have you been watching?”
“Did your boyfriend get you into the team?”
“Do you know what the stats mean?”
“Have you fucked a player before?” (That one is my favorite.)
As a woman, if you answer anything outside of “I’ve been watching (sport) my whole life. My favorite player is someone obscure from the 90’s. My dad got me into it. I majored Sports Theory in college and no I have not slept with a player.” you’re seen as a “Pink hat,” a term used for women who are not fans of the sport but watch games for some random stupid reason, like their boyfriend.
Now if you’re a woman who is actually a pink hat or one that hates sports all together, you go with your bad self. You’re entitled to your you-ness and I’m not here to judge you. In fact, if you’re a pink hat that really wants to learn about hockey or the basics of other sports without getting crap from a guy then call me. We’ll go to a bar, have a few drinks and I’ll explain everything you need to know. I digress.
My real point is that a guy shouldn’t think he has the right to quiz me on my athletic allegiance just because I’m female. If I’m somewhere paying attention to the game, regardless of what I’m wearing or how attractive you deem me to be, it’s obvious I have at least SOME interest in the game. Shouldn’t that be enough? If I was dude it would be.
Knowing I’m not alone in my feelings for this topic, I start asking other people about it- From my friend Mark who shares a mutual hate of the Sabres with me, to my friend Kate who doesn’t know anything about sports at all. I asked my roommate who is casually curious about hockey and my good friend Andrea (a little ball of hate and a diehard who still wears her Horton jersey proudly and cried the day it got signed.) It seemed like even people who weren’t into sports that much were still really passionate about the subject.
The same goes for nerd culture, or any culture dominated by men for that matter. You don’t see men quizzing women about their Sex and the City knowledge, do you? If you’re on a first date with a guy and you say your favorite color is pink they give you an obvious nod, but if you say you’re a diehard football fan, more often than not you’re given the Spanish Inquisition.
Jess Dating Tip: If you’re on a date with a girl and she tells you she likes a sport, if you want to see her again, don’t question it. If you’re a decent human being this should be obvious, but to those of us that have just begun the journey of no longer being an ignorant asshole, trust me on this one. As a hockey fan myself, the second you question my sports knowledge is the second you go from a +5 to a -30, where you are put on waivers and picked up by a minor league team in Italy. (That’s not a stab at Raycroft by the way.)
Thanks for Tuukka, bro…
Now before you think that this entire post is about how men are mean and creepy and need to let me watch my hockey in peace dammit, women do it too.
If you Google, “women’s guide to sports” you get a lot of mind numbing and offensive sites geared to making your “average” women understand athleticism, the most offensive of which is While The Men Watch
Andrea (the little ball of hate I mentioned earlier) first brought this site to my attention.
“This is a joke, right?” I asked.
“No, Jess. Those bitches are serious.”
Now again, if all you see when you watch basketball are cute dudes in uniforms then that’s you’re deal and I won’t criticize you for it. Sites like this, however, make the rest us female sports fans look bad.
To get a different perspective, I called upon my friend, Kate for some insight. She’s funny, intelligent, beautiful and thoughtful, but sports never have been her thing. I wanted to see if maybe I was reading too much into this, but her reaction was just the clarification I was looking for.
After looking at While The Men Watch, as well as a couple other links I sent her, she said:
“As a woman who's not into sports, it's fucking phony and it's insulting. I don't dislike sports because they're too manly or unpretty; I don't like sports because I don't understand them & because they sort of bore me. I don't need anyone to make things pink or fashion-related to hook me. I don't dislike sports BECAUSE I'm a woman. I just dislike sports & happen to BE a woman.
Kate continued, “I don't think most women like sports to be cool or buck femininity or prove anything. They like sports for the same reason men do – entertainment, escape, athleticism. These sites demean the possibility of women's legitimate interest in sports for the sake of sport.”
I decided to go further. I know several men (yes, even straight ones) who aren’t into sports. When asked if anyone has harassed them or questioned their masculinity because of it, most of them said no.
“I used to get harassed by some of the bros in college, but not before or since then,” one said.
“If you’re at a bar and a game is on, do you watch?” I asked.
“I mean in the same way if the news was on.”
“Does anyone ask you about it?”
“Sometimes an old surly dude might try to talk about it,” they replied. “But no one questions my knowledge.”
The sad fact remains: Manon Rhéaume could walk into any sports bar in any city wearing a Lightning Jersey with her name on the back and people would give her crap about it and question her, where as any guy from anywhere could walk into the same bar after purchasing a Ovechkin shersey who’s never watched the sport and no one would ask him anything.
I’m sure to some of you, what you just read comes off as several pages of bitching and maybe minutes of your life you can never get back. (If you’re that guy, you are most likely part of the problem. Sorry I’m not sorry.) But if you’ve gotten this far and you’re and you’re interested in maybe leveling the playing field a little bit, you’re in luck.
Fans come in all size, shapes, genders and beard types
How to Not be a Jerk Sports Fan to Female Sports Fans
1. Don’t question her.
Maybe she got into the game because of her boyfriend. Maybe she got into it because she fell in love with the team after they won the World Series. It doesn’t matter. What matters is she digs it, and if she digs it to any varying degree you need to respect her. Hell you should respect her anyway but that’s not the point of this piece.
2. If she asks a question, don’t be an asshole when you answer her.
Look dude, having ovaries does not decrease my sports comprehension knowledge. If I ask a question, don’t answer me condescendingly. That’s just plain RUDE. In the start of my love for hockey, my now ex’s brother-in-law answered all my questions while watching the game and I attribute the basis of my NHL knowledge to him. Mike, if you’re reading this, thank you. I’ve out hockey-ed many a bro-dudes in your honor.
3. Do not “oh honey” her if she messes up on a player’s name or statistic.
I am not a number girl and I can barely remember acquaintances names, never mind players on teams I don’t follow. Don’t be that guy.
4. Don’t assume there is a correlation between her looks and her knowledge.
I can’t begin to tell you how many guys were shocked about how much I know about my team on the sheer basis that they thought I was pretty. “How is that even a thing?” you ask. You’d be surprised. This one is for you too ladies-I see the looks you’ve given ice girls.
5. Enjoy the fucking game, dammit.
Isn’t that the point, anyway?