The Struggle of Being a Girl Sports Fan

nhl hockey

I’m a really big hockey fan, which most of you probably didn’t know (this detail always seems to surprise everyone). And being a hockey fan, I’m a very big Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I know what you’re thinking: “Why in the world are you a Pens fan when you live in LA?!?!” It’s kind of a complicated/long story, but I’ll try to be as brief and as engaging as possible. I started loosely following hockey a couple of years ago after my friend brought my sister and I to a Blackhawks v.s. Kings game. My sister got hooked. I, on the other hand, was not very interested. I had other things that I wanted to pay attention to, so I wasn’t as interested as my sister.

However, once I got more time on my hands, I began watching games with my sister. The first game I watched on TV was a Pens v.s. Blues game. I didn’t know which team was which–only had a vague recognition of a couple of players on one of the teams since I remember my sister talking about them at one point. I really fell in love with the game this time. Probably because I had way more time to actually delve into this newfound interest instead of last time where I was overloaded with schoolwork and personal problems.

After, I learned that the team playing on the screen was the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they were a very fun team to watch. So, I just started watching the Penguins (not knowing that they were one of the best teams in the league).

A little later, my preference to the Pens amplified ten-fold when I learned that one of my sister’s favorite team was the Capitals. Although a tad petty and spiteful, that fact alone really solidified my liking towards the Pens. It’s also really fun having a familial rivalry over sports because your team winning against your sister’s team is MUCH MORE satisfying.

So now you’re probably wondering, why’d you tell me this long, not very interesting, kind of ramble-y story? Well, thank you for that perfect segue into the main point of this post lovely reader!: It’s because I have to tell this story every single time I tell a person that I like the Pens––specifically to try to explain to them why I don’t like the Pens just because of the players’ physical looks.

And I know defending your team choices is part of “sports culture” (so I’ve been told). But that in itself annoys me since I don’t see the point where I have to worry about defending myself for liking a team when I could be just enjoying the actual game.

Many the times, (mostly when I talk to guys), the first thing they ask me when I tell them I like the Pens is:

“Oh, you like the Pens because of Sidney Crosby?”

This seems like an innocent question in itself. However, with the condescending tone and dismissing scoff, that question just completely dismissed me as a serious hockey fan. Yes, this question is a totally legitimate sports question because Crosby is literally the best hockey player right now. HOWEVER, it ceases to be a legitimate sports question when directed at girls. AND I KNOW, people don’t always ask this question in a sort of degrading, condescending, sexist way. BUT THE MAJORITY of the time, IT IS, which is why I’m writing about it.

When directed at another guy, he’s saying:

“I’m asking you this question with the assumption that you already know he’s one of best and his importance to the NHL.”

When directed at girls, he’s saying:

“I’m asking you this because the only reason you could possibly like this team is because you think Crosby has a cute face.”

I said this before, but I’m going to say this disclaimer once again now because a lot of guys get really sensitive about this:


Okay, continuing on:

When someone follows up the statement, “Oh, you like the Pens because of Sidney Crosby” with a, “Yeah, I guess he’s pretty cute,” that basically tells you that they believe you only like the team because of a player’s physical appearance, implying that the only reason you like hockey is because of the players’ looks and that you know nothing about the sport.

But hold up for a second AND LET ME SAY THIS: I think it’s completely fine to like a sport because of the players and because you find them attractive. I believe that if that makes you happy, I don’t give a shit (and other people shouldn’t either).

But I think it’s annoying that people (mostly guys) assume that girls ONLY follow sports due to the players’ looks. Most of the time, we like the sport because it’s fun to watch and follow. We know as much about it as everyone else. But most of the times, guys don’t give girls the chance to discuss sports with mutual respect because they write off her reason for liking a team based on the fact that she likes how a player looks.

And it makes me feel stupid and ashamed about liking hockey to the point where I get a little nervous when someone asks me about my favorite hockey team. Because even though I know that I love hockey and the Penguins–not only because of Crosby–but because I have a genuine interest, and I gain actual enjoyment from watching them play, it just stresses me out when people don’t believe me.

Why should I have to waste my energy trying to defend myself to someone who’s already made up his mind that the only reason I like the team is because I’m just another silly girl infatuated with physical attractiveness, which in their minds is negative and not worthy of their respect? It just puts me in a bad mood, and I don’t need that negative energy.

I’m still early to the NHL fan base, but I love it and I find it to be so much fun. I’m learning to ignore those who make me feel bad about it. And the most important lesson that I’ve learned from this (so far) is: don’t care what others think. As long as it makes me happy, that’s all that matters. And I think people should respect that instead of making others feel bad about their interests.

If you were able to read this whole thing, I’m giving you a virtual hug right now. I hope you enjoyed this post, and let me know your opinions on this matter in the comments!



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