On Photography and “Fake” Fans: Ducks at Preds

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So, being super honest with y’all – I’ve got two reasons for this post. One of them is just to show off my photographs from warmups of the Ducks/Predators game from Saturday. The other is a little more serious, but we’ll do the fun stuff first, shall we?I really enjoy photography, and while I need a much faster lens if I want to be able to get anything during game action, it’s fun to try to capture the players joking and goofing around with each other while they warm up before the game.

One of my favorite moments came at the beginning of warmups. A really cute little kid was standing near us, right on the glass, holding a little sign and trying to get the players’ attention, and while I couldn’t see what the little boy’s sign said, I thought he was incredibly adorable. It wasn’t long before Patrick Maroon came by and started grinning his head off at the kid (who happened to be wearing a maroon jersey), interacting with him and trying to flip him and puck and coming by over and over again. I, of course, being incredibly sentimental, thought this was the cutest thing I’d ever seen, particularly when other Ducks kept making a point to come by and smile at the little boy, tapping on the glass and generally making his day.

But it gets better.

I found out after the game that the little boy was Pat Maroon’s son Anthony, who had come to Nashville to surprise his dad for the last game before break. Everyone take a moment to “awwwww” with me.

Now that I’ve primed you with a cute story about an adorable child, let’s talk about the other reason for this post.

So here’s the thing. For some reason, since I have breasts, it’s immediately assumed that I don’t know a damn thing about sports. And that infuriates me. Did you know that recent polls show women make up around 40% of the NHL’s fanbase and were 42% of the 2013 Cup Final audience? We’re not just here for the butts, guys. We do watch the game.

(FYI: There’s nothing wrong with being here solely for the butts. I’m not going to tell anyone how to be a fan, because being a fan of anything for any reason is GREAT! That means you found something you like! Hooray! And if you don’t think that hockey butts are a good or valid reason to be a fan, you clearly have not seen the same butts I have.)

Anaheim was the first team I ever loved as a tiny child, and since Teemu is apparently finally retiring, I decided I needed to see him play in person before that happened. Let’s ignore the fact that the Ducks betrayed me and left him in California, because the game was still amazing and I had a wonderful time. There was just one sour note.

I’m one of those annoying fans that really likes to yell at players, and at this game we were fortunate enough to be sitting one row behind the Predators’ penalty box, so I had a nice close view of everything the big brawny men I loved were doing wrong. Apparently, all of my yelling – I assume specifically the insults I’d been hurling at the traitorous Viktor Stalberg all night – was bothering the (male, obviously) Predators fan in front of us, because when Mike Fisher took a penalty almost halfway through the period, he decided to turn around and put me in my place.

“Okay, Ducks fan,” he said, rolling his eyes at me and putting a particular emphasis on the word ‘fan’ that immediately set my teeth on edge, “do you know who Carrie Underwood is?”

I stared at him for a long moment, because while Mike Fisher was sitting in the box directly in front of us, I wasn’t certain what his wife had to do with anything. “Yes,” I said.

“Do you know who that is?” he asked, speaking slowly enough as he pointed at Fish that if I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought he was speaking to the six-year-old sitting beside me.

I stared again, blinking and drawing the silence out as long as possible to hopefully make him uncomfortable. Finally, I said, “I’ve been watching Mike Fisher since he played in Ottawa.”

After that, he left me alone, but I really resented the fact that I had to “prove” my hockey knowledge to this random stranger in order to be “allowed”, essentially, to watch the game in peace.

As women, we are constantly being asked to prove that we’re good enough to be fans, that we’re good enough to be allowed into a space that male fans apparently want to keep “sacred” – never mind that no one ever says a word to the male fans that go to games and don’t have a clue what’s going on. And I think that’s bullshit.

I’m not going to get into the entirety of this issue. There’s too much involved, and my point is a simple and all-encompassing one:

Don’t make assumptions about the knowledge level of fans surrounding you. Don’t take away from their enjoyment of the game by questioning them and trying to make them feel like they’re “less” of a fan than you are. Essentially? Don’t be a dick.

I’m not taking anything away from your game-watching experience by existing in this space you’ve deemed yours. And if that’s how you feel about me being there, feel free to move to another seat. I paid for mine just like you did, and I’m not going anywhere.

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