Can’t women be sports fans too?

by Colleen Boyle

“these girls really need to stop with their bullshit comments that make it seem liek they’re fans of the sport. i swear to christ if I read another status update from some clueless bitch about ‘go hawks’ i’m gonna punch her in the taco.”

I have already ranted and raved about this on facebook, but I felt a formal post to explain why I am really infuriated was well over due.

I am a woman, and I love sports. I like Hockey; I like soccer; and I like rugby. You can make fun of my love of sports and call me a lesbian, but sexual orientation has nothing to do with this. I know lesbians who could care less about sports, it’s just a matter of who and what you fancy in life.

People have made the assumption that my love of sports-more specifically my obsession with the Chicago Blackhawks can be traced to my boyfriends interest in the sport. It does not take long for people to realize that this is not the case.

I have vivid memories of being a few feet tall and tripping in a hockey jersey far too big on me, for my dad bought both me and my older brother the same size jersey. I remember being about eights years old and sitting on the glass at the Chicago Stadium and fearing for my small little life that the glass would break every time a player was checked into the boards.

Likewise, I also recall ice-skating as a small child and a few incidents where my head was cracked open from falling or when my hand and skate hit one another and I needed stitches. Some of my fondest memories have been on ice skates with my family.

I also could not forget the Southwest Ice Arena-best mozzarella sticks on the south side in my seven year old self’s opinion. My dad played for the Vikings, an adult league, and my brother Shawn and I took turns refilling their water bottles.

And around eight years old, I played field hockey in a league dominated by boys. I can only recall one other girl in my league or at least on my team, Shannon Walsh who is still a huge hockey fan and often see her at the United center.

My generation has not been exposed to hockey like my aunts and uncles were. It’s unfortunate that one bad owner could drive away a city of potential hockey fans. But the team has turned itself around. What was once a team that couldn’t fill the United Center is now a team in the playoffs and has nearly reached capacity all season long.

The problem that I am ultimately here to discuss is the attitude that sports should not be enjoyed by women. Yesterday’s playoff victory put Blackhawks fans in a good mood. I logged into facebook and viewed some photos from the game and one comment read as follows:

“these girls really need to stop with their bullshit comments that make it seem liek they’re fans of the sport. i swear to christ if I read another status update from some clueless bitch about ‘go hawks’ i’m gonna punch her in the taco.”

How should this make me feel? I am a 25 year old woman who loves this sport and has had hockey a part of my life since I was a small child. The underlying message is that women aren’t real fans of sports and not just women, he said ‘bitches’. The hate in this message is so clear, so straightforward.

What is it about sports that is so manly a women cannot even enjoy watching it on TV and then talking about it on facebook. I did not know that sitting in front of the TV and watching a sports game was so complicated that only the large brain males of society could do it.

The overall hatred in what he said and the threat of violence towards women who dare toe the line of male sports is another example of how gender roles can produce narrow minds and hatred when the roles are not strictly followed.

You could argue that I am overreacting. You could say, ‘it’s just facebook and that comment has no effect on society.’ But that attitude will one day be a direct effect in that person’s life. The person who said it could one day chose to hire a male over a female and not give women the same opportunity.

The attitude we have towards the other gender is subtle but has a profound effect on society, and someone who outwardly threaten violence against women for trying to do things he thinks are only for men is absolutely ignorant and hateful.

If you still think that gender should dictate your likes and your interests, then you live a narrow and unimaginative life that will always be dull. If you define your life based on what society tells your gender that you must do, then you will never be happy with yourself and you will always find hate within yourself towards those brave enough to find what they truly love in life regardless of the roles society attempts to place on us.

While gender should not be the sole basis of how you define yourself, there will always be people there to remind you when you have stepped across their imaginary lines.

Was that his way of calling me off-sides? I’d like to known who made him a ref.


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