Monday, November 2, 2009

My Mind is FULL of Thoughts, But I Have No Answers (or Do I?!)!

Now that I've had time to "relax" and rationally think about the occurrences of the past weekend, I feel that I am more confused than ever about where I stand on the issue of the female hockey fan and where I fit into that broad spectrum. I think this may be why I have such an issue with it and where my strong desire to defend myself comes from.

Right or wrong, there will forever be a stigma that comes along with being a female hockey fan (actually any kind of female sports fan) and I, as I'm sure all of you have experienced at one time or another, have been the brunt of enough "puck bunny" comments, articles, blog posts, etc., to realize there just isn't a right or wrong answer and that it's all a matter of opinion. It is these opinions that we, as females, do not necessarily have to agree with but should at least think about respecting.

However, what I will always have a hard time dealing with is the idea of making your point at the expense of someone else. You don't like me or my blog? Fine. Just make sure you don't visit again (and that way, you won't find the need to make it or inappropriately include it in a topic of one of your posts - simple). I am a BIG BELIEVER in "live and let live."

I think what bothers me the most about all of this is the fact that the majority of times it's female(s) accusing other female(s) or, perhaps "degrading" is a better suited word, and that the majority of times I've had to defend myself it's been to another female fan. What is it that stirs up the worst in all of us with that? Seriously ladies - we defeat ourselves with this behavior and the men just sit back and laugh. We should be sticking together and uniting as one strong force to rise above this stigma - not proving it to everyone!

What actually made me sit down and think long and hard about this is the fact that it just hit me that it wasn't so long ago that I found myself on the other side of this argument. I was actually questioning another female's reasons for being a fan. Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to say what does and does not make someone a "real" hockey fan - male or female? It's easy to judge someone superficially, but maybe we should just take the time to look harder into the soul of the fan especially the female fan!

Yes, there is NO DENYING there are what we ALL refer to as "puck bunnies," but let's give everyone the benefit of the doubt instead of judging what we think we see! And, honestly, ALL red-blooded females (AND MALES) have a tendency to look upon the opposite sex in this way, so there's really no way of denying it no matter who you are (fan or not!)! None of us have a switch to turn the hormones off and on when we watch sports (REGARDLESS OF AGE) which is why this blog came about in the first place and is another story for another time.

But to better illustrate this, I'll give you the story of when and how I became the avid hockey fan that I am today (even if that means disclosing how old I really am - as far as I'm concerned, a fan transcends all time!):

I was 18 and graduated high school the very day the Pens won their second Stanley Cup. The [female] friend I was hanging around at the time had a [male] cousin who was a year or two younger than us and was NO DOUBT a diehard Pens fan (his entire family was). All three of us hung out alot that summer and, of course, the Pens were a big topic - he, as a Pens fan, made it infectious.

Prior to that, this friend and I did attend a few Pens games on bus trips, but it wasn't anything like it was that summer. I even remember going to the store to buy hockey cards with them and he let us open a pack - even showed us "how" to open them (I was HOOKED after that one pack which is also why I collect hockey cards to this day - which is also another story for another time).

Anyway, I began to fall in love with the Pens as a team; I remember watching the Cup celebration at Three Rivers Stadium from home on my TV. My favorite (even still to this day) was Jaromir Jagr, "Mario Jr." - "it is very sunny tonight, NOT!" His jersey was the first Pens jersey I owned and was a Christmas gift from my aunts that Christmas. I actually learned how to say "Happy Birthday" in Czech and called up the restaurant the Pens were celebrating his 21st birthday and the phone call ending with a lady tellling me, "uh, he's a little busy right now."


I still have TONS of old Pens stuff that I collected from back then; to name a few -- the Jagr / Mario Wheaties box, the Coke cans, a few Jagr rookie cards, autographed program from an exhibition game I attended in York, PA where we sat right next to the radio booth of Mike Lange and Steigy. Joey Mullen cards I had autographed along with the picture I have with him the time my dad took me to his signing at a car dealership in Indiana, PA a few days before my birthday.

As friends, we went on to college and kept in touch, but I continued to be a fan and watched games every chance I got. I even met, became friends, and eventually roomed with other bigtime Pens fans in college.

I can tell you where I was / what I was doing when Mario announced at a press conference that he had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Then I met my husband who loves the Pens just as much as I do. I even remember on our first date giving him a large chocolate chip cookie with a Pens logo on it that I had bought at Giant Eagle. That may actually have "sealed the deal" - I remember him being so psyched about it that he actually showed his dad (YES - I can still feel the embarrassment!)!!

Ah, the memories! Over the years, I eventually fell in love with hockey as a sport and not just Penguins hockey. My story as a fan has many twists and turns to it along the way, but that's the basic foundation of it - a little over 17 years of highs and lows; the very reason why you can't always judge a book by it's cover. I'd say that I've paid my dues and I am a "REAL" fan! This blog is only part of the story and so I hate for it to be the judge of who I am as a fan, but no matter what, it's a part of who I am as a fan and it makes me proud and no one should question that. [Can we just keep it in the context it was created in, PLEASE?!!!]!! Aside from that, if you don't like this one, [shameless plug!] you can always check out my OTHER one which is for the more "serious" Pens fan!!!

So maybe I'm not as confused about where I stand as a female hockey fan as I thought I was at the beginning of this post and I may just needed to take a look back myself and appreciate all the great times I've had / collected as a fan.

All of us have a story, so I encourage you to share them with me and EVERYONE. I may even start a new weekly post if I get enough feedback!! Don't feel you need to post in the comments - if your story is a long one, email it to me, I'd love to hear about it!! And if you give the OK, I'll share it here too.

We females should start supporting each other and stop knocking each other down and this is my little way of beginning to do that!

18 comments:

Tillie said...

First off, I LOVED your story about you and your husband and the Pens cookie. That's really, really adorable and I hope that it DID seal the deal!

Also, just keep doing what you do. Regardless of a few choice opinions out there, you bring smiles to a lot of our faces when we read your blog and that's all that counts anyway. Besides, from a reader's perspective, your blog is not just about what NHL players look like. Anyone that reads your blog realizes that there is a lot more included besides admiring what a player looks like.

Essentially, they can go suck it.

Love your blog :)

Stephanie said...

THANKS for your comment and I SO appreciate that you enjoy the blog -- I created it because I enjoy it, but you guys make it FUN!!!

AGREED - anyone that doesn't like it can SUCK IT!!!

THANKS again Tillie!!! : )

55.44.17.11.2.4.7.14.48Pensfan71.58.24.25.26.29.87 said...

You go! :D

Jay said...

Stephanie,

You ROCK! There is no doubt in my mind that you are a true Pens fan AND a hockey fan. As much as I thought that was evident by this blog, as well as your other one, your story outlines it very well.

The issue lies in the definition of "puck bunny"--and no one, I think, has the same definition. Is it a girl who just waits outside in a skimpy outfit for autographs and pictures? Or is it a woman who can sit in the stands and still follow the game, who occasionally throws out a comment about how cute so-and-so is? There's no universal definition, so it's always going to be up for debate.

Girls are so catty about EVERYTHING. It's like we constantly need to compare ourselves to other women to find validation within ourselves. It's gone on for decades, and I fear it will never stop. I could go on and on about this particular subject, having studied the phenomena in college, but I digress. Let's just say that I agree with your philosophy of "live and let live."

How did I become a hockey fan? A [male] friend of mine that is some years older than I am. He kept telling me that I'd appreciate the sport for what it was (strategy, determination, etc), but he actually tried to entice me to watch it by telling me how cute some of the Pens players were!! Really, he just wanted someone to watch the games with and talk about it with afterward. And he was right: I fell in love with the GAME. I watch whatever game's on TV, and not because of the players or the teams (although I do, of course, have my favorites).

I worry constantly about being labeled a puck bunny, but my friend constantly assures me that I am not--not since I can rattle off some facts and stats that even he doesn't know, and he's the biggest fan I've ever met. We all struggle with the stereotype, but we know within if we're true fans with occasional urges to ogle or merely fawning, giggling, vapid bags of raging hormones.

And that's all I need to know; I hope that it's true for you as well.

So I say (with all due respect) screw the haters and keep on doing what you're doing! We all appreciate it, and I for one love having a haven where I can express my own thoughts and feelings in a safe place with like-minded individuals!

Stephanie said...

@Jay - YOU (and ALL HftL readers) ROCK!!! Honestly, I would bet my life on it, without a doubt, that none of them are "puck bunnies!" You are just that type of girl - the intelligent female fan who is confident enough to know she's not blind and that there ARE attractive HP out there (gasp - imagine that!)!! THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your story - you, too, are a REAL hockey fan (as I can guarantee you, all HftL readers are!)!!!

I'M ENJOYING THIS, LADIES - KEEM 'EM COMING!!!

Kaitlyn said...

I agree with Tillie and the cookie story. It sounds like you have an awesome husband. Like I said yesterday don't let the haters bring you down. you are doing a good job and this is the most fun blog I have been on. Have a good evening. BTW How do you say Happy Birthday in Czech?

Stephanie said...

@Kaitlyn - I really doubt I know how to spell it correctly, but it's something like, "Vesula Rodney Dain" -- my pap was Czech! : ) Now donm't quote me!! : P

mtfree said...

I think that we all have our stories of how we got interested in hockey. To show my age and where I come from, I can remember going to a few Atlanta Flames (that's right, the Atlanta Flames back in the day) with a friend because her family had season tickets. I can remember sitting there, watching the game, thinking, "Wow, I don't know much about the game, and it's a lot like soccer."

Years later...I got married and moved up here to Western Pennsylvania. My husband is a big Pens fan, and so is his sister. My husband would watch the games. In a side note, we lived with his parents for many years, so when he watched the games, he was in another part of the house.

It wasn't until we moved out on our own two years ago that I started watching the games. I didn't have much of a choice, really. But I started watching. It wasn't until towards the end of the 2007-08 season did I really get into hockey and the Pens.

As I watched more hockey did I come to the realization that some of the players were real cuties and HOT. I've got my favorites as we all do. My husband is grateful that I got into hockey because it's one more thing that we can talk about.

My husband knows that I've got my favorite players that I enjoy looking at. He knows I'm not dead, just in my 40's! He enjoys looking, too, but we know where our hearts belong.

I do appreciate this blog/site because I get to learn about players from around the league as I'm paying more attention to all teams because I enjoy watching hockey, just not the Pens.

I have learned a little more about the game here, which I appreciate. I also enjoy seeing the eye candy. My husband calls this site my porn. That's okay by me! I can get my eye candy fix while learning more about the Pens and more about the game. What a great combination.

Thank you, Stephanie for all the hard work you do in keeping this site going. I may not always post comments about whatever may be posted, but I do enjoy everything that is done.

Stephanie said...

@mtfree - awesome story!! I'm glad you learn from reading here (and to call this site your "porn" - I honestly think that might be a compliment!)!! Honestly, Kena and I learn alot from covering other players on this site too -- I also pay attention more myself from doing that, so however you learn is a BONUS (if its fun while you're doing it, that's even better!)!! I think all of us are alike regardless of age, background, location - I have come to appreciate this fact and the fact that you're never weird or alone in thoughts or feelings (this blog has taught me that a time or two!)!!

I appreciate all of you and your stories -- THANK YOU!! : )

stoopidful said...

Stephanie,
I ended up writing a novel, so email is on its way.

F'em if they can't take a joke!

Love what you do.

Val said...

I love hockey because my husband grew up playing and between the two of us we have managed to produce two pretty awesome players...our family is all about hockey, I am all about hockey, and I am not ashamed of it one bit.

I love that the women who have commented on here are not ashamed of it, either. Forget the haters, let this (or these) incident(s) go, and let's move on to the business at hand...the common interests we ALL share in the game of hockey and the men who play it.

Stephanie, we love you...I believe that just by what has been written here in one day. Fight the haters, and don't let 'em get you down!

Katie said...

I agree. No one can really be the judge of what makes someone a "true" hockey fan or "true" fan of any sport really. Yes there are puck bunnies out there but does that make all female fans a "puck bunny" no it doesn't. I watch hockey because I love it and think it's an amazing sport. Does that mean that I'm not going to be like any other red blooded female and not say that there are players out there I find incredibly sexy...no because then I'm lying to myself and to everyone else. I grew up on the Penguins and loved the team since I was little. I can honestly say that Mario Lemieux was my first crush...I think he was for many young girls...haha! There are plenty of male athletes out there in every sport that are attractive and females are going to see that. Doesn't make us less of a fan just because we love a sport and find a player attractive.

Also, don't let those other's get to you. I live my life by not taking bullshit from anyone and I feel like that's the best thing for me to do. I can live happy and be just fine with the person I am minus all of the negative opinions and what not people have to say about me. Personally I don't really care what people think because I know who I am and I know that my friends love me for who I am. I love your blog and I say that those other girls are just jealous because of how many people that you have behind you. If so they need to get lives and grow up.

Char said...

agreed! It shouldnt matter what others think (I know this is easier said than done!) but honestly? I'm tired of having to prove to everyone that I'm actually a hockey fan, and not just in it because Jordan Staal might just be the most gorgeous thing ever.

PS, Kena, Facebook keeps telling me to poke jordan staal. i think its a sign...

Michelle said...

I have always loved this blog and I know how upsetting it can be when you're an older fan and feel attacked.
My dad has always been a hockey star here at home and last year played on team Nova Sotia at the Canada senior Games.
I have been a hockey fan since the age of five.To say that I'm a "puckbunny" can be so insulting.
That being said,I love Sid and don't really give a damn if people like it or not.
You have frieds who enjoy and understand you...keep the faith!!

marcie922 said...

I like your page, and I have many stories about being a PEN's fan for many years.

Women and girls who critize others are trying to cover up their own insecurities. My motto is, if you dont have anything nice to say, why bother. Don't let people upset you. They don't know you, and would you really want to know people like that anyway?

Keep up the good work, I look forward to your page!

EHisCDN said...

I would like to say that I am not a puck bunny but a hockey fan, although I'm sure I have my moment.

I became a pens fan just before the lock out, when I was watching World Juniors and noticed Fleury. I thought he was pretty awesome so when he got drafted to the Pens I started paying attention to them more then just the Leafs.

When I was younger, a friend of my family who worked at the Toronto Star (sponsor of the Toronto Maple Leafs) would always get me a program to one of the games for free. I would memorize all the players with their numbers so that when I watched the games I could announce along with them!

It's not just the NHL that I follow, I can remember going along to my sister and brother's hockey games. I may not know any more then the basics about hockey like icing and when to clear, but I still have a basic understanding. I still go to my sister's games and my brothers ball hockey games.

A more recent memory was this year when the Pens were playing game 7 of the Stanley cup final. I had music banquet that night so I wasn't able to watch the game. Instead I had my friend send me texts throughout the night of the score etc. When she texted me that they won I honestly ran around telling everyone and jumping and screaming!

I have always recognized that the Pens have really good looking player - I'M NOT BLIND after all! But it's there personalities that keep me coming back for more.

I think I was born to be a Pens fan, since they won the cup for the first time the year I was born (I just showed my age but w/e).

I think my first love is the game, I always watch World Juniors and consider it my favourite form of hockey! I also love international play like the Olympics but world juniors is my favourite and just makes the christmas time of year all the better!

I think that all the girls on here are far more then "puck bunnies" and the stories everyone has shared has just reaffirmed that.

I think your Pens cookie story is so sweet. What guy can't resist a cookie with the pens logo on it. If you gave me one I would be your friend forever! ;p

wispensfan said...

I'm from Wisconsin and have been a pens fan for years. It came about when I met a girl that ended up becoming one of my best friends my freshman year of high school. Her older brother who was eighteen played goalie for our local club team. In order to spend any time with her in the winter I had to go to his games and after the first couple I decided it was time that I learned about what was going on. Her dad introduced me to the pens when he dug out a big box of old vhs tapes and showed me game six of the finals against the north stars. It was the most amazing thing that I had ever seen and I was totally hooked after that. I will fully admit with no shame that I look at the cute guys. It's no different than the guys who ogle the icegirls that some teams have and no one gives them crap for it.

Ann said...

I totally agree with Tillie, if they don't like it, they can suck it.
I have started reading your blog just recently,and have been really enjoying it. Love your story of the first date and the cookie, that would be a clincher.
I have been cheering for the Pens since 1983 (yes, a long long time.) Not an easy thing when you live in "Maple Leaf" country in Ontario, but I have never considered switching teams.
Through the years, I have been to several Penguins games, and have followed the games and players, I consider myself a total hockey fan, which I think, as females,we can be without being thought of as puck bunnies.
Your blog is fun to read, and I like the stories, pictures and thoughts that you put into it. Thanks.