Jun 21 2014

Hockey Fans Aren’t As Progressive As I Had Hoped

[Hi, I am not Shelby, just her fiance (/husband, if you read this in 2015+) making a blog post!]

For the longest time I have felt a bit highbrow by calling myself a fan of hockey. Arguably the fourth biggest sport in the United States, the players have been seen as a bit classier and humbler than the other major sports. After all, the NFL had a convicted dog fight organizer and a literal murderer. Every good MLB player apparently took steroids. NBA players have settled rape allegations and we can’t ignore Donald Sterling.

Despite having no actively gay players in the NHL, they helped create an organization to change just that. You Can Play was founded in 2012 after the death of Brendan Burke in a car accident. Brendan was the son of Brian Burke (at the time GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and Brendan came out in 2009 while working with the Miami University ice hockey team. You Can Play’s mission was to end homophobia in all sports, not just hockey.

Since then, the MLS, NWSL, and NLL have joined as partners along with several other colleges, hockey leagues and other minor sports leagues. Of the other three major sports, only the Denver Nuggets of the NBA have partnered with them as of this point in 2014.

What I am getting at is that hockey players and the organizations behind them seem to be on the right side of the forward moments for equality. Hockey fans have a lot to learn from the players they idealize.

Early Friday morning, on 6-20-2014, this exchange took place on twitter.

On its own kind of harmless. Just a teenage girl noting that she likes the team and men on it. The Detroit Red Wings are my favorite team and it was nice that the seemed to be trying to be helpful here and a bit funny. But then again, she didn’t say it was her only goal and it was a harmless tweet so it also felt strangely patronizing. Their response isn’t the issue though. Because the Red Wings did tweet back, a much wider audience then saw Kaylee’s initial tweet and decided to put their two cents in as well.

I have read different reports, but it looks like that the harassment she received was big enough for her to delete her twitter account within thirty minutes of the response and run away from the internet forever. Reading the responses made me sick too, the most famous of one was captured thanks to the Red Wings trying to calm some of it down.

That’s right. She is a “dumb slut.” They said not to call names. He insulted her again. Then the Red Wings twitter handler went completely off the deep end and implied that Kaylee only valued her physical appearance and she has to learn to have more value than that.

WHAT? Kaylee didn’t imply anything of the sort there! She wasn’t even being “dirty” in any way. She wanted to marry someone, which implies spend her life with someone. Sure it was vague, but hey, what young girl, stereotypically, doesn’t dream of marriage?

To make matters worse, these very small tweets made their away around the hockey groups of which I am a member of a lot of them. It seems that overwhelmingly, the same sorts of comments came from those who saw it, whether it be on Reddit or TSN message boards. People called her stupid, people called her a slut.

I made the mistake of trying to say something to support the girl and shame them for their bullying. Below are the immediate responses to what I said and a few other select comments said by others on one of these posts. (Click photo to read larger)

First of all, for those who don’t know what a Puck Bunny is, here is a definition: “a young female hockey fan, especially one motivated more by a desire to meet the players than by an interest in hockey”. Basically a groupie. Are puck bunnies bad people? Of course not. Everyone has traits they like in a person. Is liking someone for their guitar skills or ability to swim fast bad? No. Exactly.

Secondly, these people on the internet after spending all this time calling her names and making assumptions about her life that they have no way of knowing, have then gone on to bash those trying to protect her. They are saying things like she deserved it, she had it coming, that if their daughter did something like that they’d hope this happened to her too and that it was her fault.

Do any of those phrases sound familiar? That is the same kind of victim blaming that people are trying their hardest to get out of the American lexicon. I was worried that it might be difficult to show this as the same kind of crap perpetuated by rape culture, but “thankfully” it wasn’t hard in that it is given quite plainly by the man in the bottom left comment. That man literally seems to be wishing that she were to get raped in order to have something more important to tweet about.

This stuff I saw on Friday sickened me all day. Hockey fans are not like the players of the sport. Sure, some people tried to stick up for her, but they were drowned out by the very vocal majority who felt it was their duty and need to put this poor girl down and kill her confidence. Posting this probably won’t change anyone’s attitude to the subject, so my only hope is to bring up this seemingly small event and highlight why it is despicable

Remember, even if you are drowning in idiots and assholes, you only need a little support to tread to safety.

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