Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My take on "Women and Sports"

Very rude of me to post on top of myself, but whatever. I'll get over it. I was just reminded of something I wanted to throw a few words up about.

My buddy Buddha posted this yesterday on women in sports fields, either as players, reporters, front office, etc.: Women and Sports. It's a good read and puts me in the same bucket as Sarah Spain, for which I apologize to Ms. Spain because she's way fuckin' awesomer than me. I've never gotten an NHLer to sing Fergie and I look ridiculous in pigtails.

It's a good read and I'm flattered to be mentioned, but every time I read something along these lines (and then the ensuing comments), I guess I'm a little surprised that mens' perceptions of them in a sports context is still such an issue for so many women.

It absolutely hasn't been for me and I'm left to sit and think about why that is.

Am I just really lucky? Well, yeah, as I mentioned in my last post, with my fellow Aeros writers (and on up to the Wild where Russo has also been very good to me), I am surrounded by people who support what I do. The PR guys have always been professional toward me and if I've ever felt any slight, I've always interpreted that as more because I'm not always writing the straightest material about their team. That's just what I do and I take some risks as a result.

Or maybe it's because I really don't attempt at any pretense. I'm pretty up front with my take on hockey and I'm an open book really. Things you have to know:

  1. I love this game more than anything. I love sports in general, but I think hockey is the greatest sport ever and that's really and truly the bottom line. 
  2. I'm obsessed with goalies so much that in spite of being old and completely lacking in athleticism, I had to become one.
  3. Hockey players are, by and large, pretty foxy and I don't mind saying it. It's not what I'm about as a sports fan, but Christ, I'm supposed to NOT appreciate those strong, lean bodies? Please. You're dead inside if you're not enjoying the view.
  4. Brusty Brusty Brusty Brusty
The other thing is that I'm not really into this, "We are sportswomen, hear us roar" thing. I think part of that is because what I see, at least from some hockey blogging women, is that they're trying to dictate how women should relate to sport as part of their agenda. It's this overcompensation of being serious and demanding respect and how dare you think I might wanna tap that?!

I've said it before and I'll say it again. For shit's sake, just be genuine. Don't apologize for your unique relationship to the game just because some women's libber wants to poo-poo you for liking a player just a little extra because he's got eyes the color of the ocean. *sigh*

Bottom line, any man who insists that you prove your "legitimacy" as a sports fan is a man whose opinion doesn't matter. And maybe that's just my weird take on feminism, but to me it doesn't mean equality or being like the guys or demanding respect. It means the freedom to be who I am without apology, to men OR women.


JL  October 5, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

I guess I didn't see the need for the article. It seemed more like a pat on the back than anything. Around here women have always been welcome in sports as long as I can remember (although I'm only 27). And lots of women on my hockey team too.

I'm guessing if there is some kind of issues with women (or gays) in sports, it starts at the junior level, where teens start to travel without families and moms and create a strong ego/facade. After that, it becomes a kind of tradition.

Anyways I love your take on it, don't put yourself on a pedestal because you're a female journalist, (rightly) put the game on a pedestal and people will appreciate you for that.

Ms. Conduct  October 5, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

Well, I'm not saying anybody's putting themselves on a pedestal. I'm just saying we do more good for our gender by not being martyrs, victims, or whiners. And I'm not saying it's not okay to show weakness when it's genuine. I love when a journalist of any gender confesses to an emotional reaction to something. I think it enhances the work to do so, even if it lets down the facade of "objectivity."

buddhafisch  October 5, 2010 at 10:15 AM  


I am assuming you mean you don't see the need for my article, not H's? If that is the case, it was not meant as a pat on the back, but as a conversation starter. The series "From My Mom's Basement" is an editorial series. It is meant to be about a serious topic with some snark and fun along the way. If I wanted to pat these women on the back (which the assuredly would break my wrist for attempting to do), I would. I could write volumes in a pat-on-the-back manner for these four women in particular.

As for your post H. I love it. I agree 100%, and wish I would have put something about that in my post. Just be yourself, do your job, and people will either like it or they won't. Nothing I say is going to change it.

Eyes the color of the ocean? Really? I think I puked in mouth a little. ;-)

maalivahti  October 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM  

Very, very well said. You know my take- I don't expect to be treated any better or worse than anyone else out there simply because I'm female. (I can't comment on writers but I would definitely approach it the same way if it was me).

Heidi  October 5, 2010 at 9:09 PM  

"Bottom line, any man who insists that you prove your "legitimacy" as a sports fan is a man whose opinion doesn't matter."

I couldn't agree with you more, Ms.C. As a female sports fan, I sometimes feel like I need to prove I know what I am talking about. Why should I?? Just beacause I am a chick, doesn't mean I don't know what I am talking about.

Ms. Conduct  October 5, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

To carry that further, Heidi, even if you DON'T know what you're talking about, it doesn't make you a less serious or committed fan of the sport. You just haven't learned that particular thing yet. It's not because you're a woman or a puck bunny or whatever else dumb guys want to assume.

Anonymous  October 7, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

I see you finally brought up the elusive reason some people think women cannot be serious fans. The Puck Bunny. (and whatever else they are called in other sports). Men are finally realizing that more and more women are actually following and watching sports for the actual game and not for the chance to see which player they can have their own power play with later. it has become more obvious over the past years which is which (puck bunny versus actual fan) but some men still think if a woman is there, they wanna bang the team. Sexist, stupid and exactly how they feel when they go to a womans sporting event...


Nick in New York  October 8, 2010 at 8:26 AM  

Outstanding article, H. As a father of daughters, this issue is one that I am trying to stay on top of, but, as a father of young daughters, has yet to really manifest itself in a material way in my house.

Now, I realize that's a pretty obtuse thing to say. I'm sure the seeds of sports appreciation have already been sewn in my girls. And I'm being as open with them as I truly believe I would have been with a son.

But, pieces like this hit home for me, as sort of a navigational aid if nothing else.

Great writing, as always, but thanks for the cup check, so to speak.


sportshurtmore  October 10, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

Missed this when it went live, but wanted to throw a nod in your direction anyway. I posted a week or two ago in relation to the IS Jets cluster@#$, and ended up round-about addressing a couple of similar issues, so it's been on my mind as well lately.

In my experience, there's a huge degree of top-down when it comes to how females (women *or* girls) are treated in various athletic establishments - if you have a coach who's pro "co-ed", they'll make it work and give you a chance to prove yourself just like any of the guys. If your coach isn't as amenable to the idea, things get twice as hard in a hurry. That's not bitching, that's just reality - same goes for any minority breaking into a new field where they weren't previously considered the norm (or, really, any minority - there's always a degree of us vs. them, no matter how broad-minded people are).

Generally, all it takes is one round of leadership (coach, captain, PR director, etc) who's of the "Let's see what you can do" variety (and not necessarily in an OTT and highly visible way, just in practice) to shake up an organization. After that, those who come in one or two or five years down the line never know just how bad it might have been. That's not a bad thing, but it does make it easy to overlook how significant changes may have been.

I took a course on Women & Athletics my last year of university, and was surprised at how moderate I ended up falling in the conversations/debates. I think something that a lot of the ultra!feminism advocates forget is that sports and athletics as a field aren't necessarily kind to males either. But it's hard to gauge that line between intended harsh treatment vs default/standard harsh treatment if it's not an environment you're familiar with. A lot of the teams I played on treated me like varying levels of crap, yes, but the guys had exactly the same treatment - it just sucks at certain stages of the season and psychological progression.

~ Marienne

Ms. Conduct  October 10, 2010 at 7:42 PM  

Fabulous point on guys also getting fucked over by their organizations. Spent some time wallowing in that very phenomenon over the last year.

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