Hockey Is Making Me Tired

I can’t quite bring myself to care about what Morgan Rielly said.

“We’re not here to be girls about it.” It’s stupid, and it’s sexist, and I would have preferred that he phrase it differently, but let’s be real: we all knew what he meant.

It’s something I’ve heard from guys I’m friends with, guys I’m related to, guys I’ve dated. In every case– once it’s been pointed out to them– there’s been an apology and, for the most part, it hasn’t happened again. Morgan Rielly had this happen to him too, although his lecture came from the communications department in the Leafs organization instead of me personally.

Here’s the thing: I am tired of having to be that person, and I’m not the only one.

I don’t care about what Morgan Rielly said because overall, it’s nothing more than a drop of water. I accept the explanation that it’s indicative of hockey culture, and that he probably didn’t mean it, and it’s something he grew up hearing and saying. I don’t think people should be defending him saying it, but there’s an explanation, he apologized, and for me right now, that’s enough.

But god, casual sexism sucks. I am tired. I am exhausted. I see this every single day in sports and sports media and every single day it’s another drop of water and I am just. I don’t think I can do it anymore.

I want to be a hockey fan. Hockey is beautiful and brutal all at once; it holds my attention on the screen and on the scoresheet. I love watching my team score goals and kill penalties, I love the occasional turbulent chaos of world juniors, I love watching certain teams and certain players dominate college hockey. I love hockey statistics to the point where I’m sure my family wants me to shut up about them already.

It wasn’t what Morgan Rielly said that was the problem. It was the reaction.

I go to a university with a huge college basketball culture. I have always felt welcome at games, no matter how much I knew– when I first got there, I basically knew half the words to the fight song, which I’d learned at orientation when I was sick with mono then promptly forgot. And it didn’t matter because I was immediately a part of it. I didn’t have to prove anything, and everyone was thrilled to help me learn. It made me love college basketball.

(I’m great at our fight song now).

With hockey, I feel like I have to prove something all the goddamn time, whether it’s statistics, or knowledge of the roster, or trivia dating back thirty years. If I can’t, I’m just some girl who’s pretending.

Look, I’ve invested a lot of time in this sport, a lot of emotion, and a lot of money for a college student. My home team losing in heartbreaking fashion in the Stanley Cup Final? They’re going to get it next year. The USA World Juniors team losing with one of their best teams in years? Children, you should have controlled your tempers.

But this? It’s starting to make hockey, and the hockey community, not worth it.

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2 comments

  1. I am sorry you have had that experience. I hope you stick with it, as your enthusiasm and knowledge of stats and prospects makes a contribution. As a Canadian 40-something white guy who plays and enjoys and is proud of this sport, I am frustrated and at times embarassed by the “This is OUR game” (and we don’t feel like sharing) meathead mentality that I observe all too often. As if the only “real” fans are Caucasian boys from the Prairies who played at least to the Major Junior level and who mark each goal scored with a slight head nod only and who cheer for one of the teams North of the 49th. And that females, Swedes, people from Nashville, people who slap the glass after they score, people who don’t understand the secret “code” of acceptable puckiquette, people who never saw Gretzky play – you’re all out of luck. Instead, I love that the game is being exported to non-traditional markets, I am pleased that HNIC provides a Punjabi feed, I am thrilled by the Cups my Wings won with Euro stars, and I wish the tent would get as big as possible. Best of luck.

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  2. This, so much. With all my passions, I always feel like I’m moving uphill toward a tipping point that never gets closer even as I just get ever more tired. Like you, I really don’t care about what Reilly said; it’s the reaction that is pure weight on my shoulders. At some point, it’s not worth it. Or it must change, and I have to effect that change in the way I consume hockey. Which is so unfair, and arduous, and disheartening, and always comes down to: is it worth it?

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