True Blue 2017 (Part One)

It’s summer or more accurately the NHL’s off-season and you know what that means at NUCKSAID! It’s time once again, for True Blue and to put the spot light on you, Canucks fans. This year, it’ll be a little different than my past summer series. No questionnaire, but a more free form in which you can share whatever you’d like about your hockey/Canucks fandom, or focus on just one moment in particular in the team’s history that really shaped how you view this game or an experience with other fans that influence your view of the game now or really it’s up to you what you’d like to say. If you’d like to be featured/share the story of your hockey fandom or the moment that’s shaped how you view the game, send me an e-mail to: nucksaid@gmail.com & we will set it up!

As always, since I am asking YOU to share, it’s only fair that I share MY story as well.

So here goes,

True Blue: NUCKSAID 2017.

It’s no secret that the Vancouver Canucks are my team or that every team across the league has incredible fans and those are the facts, plain and simple. When I stepped into this world that is the hockey fandom, I was not sure how it would be perceived or if I would be accepted, all I knew was that I loved this game and there was no going back.

Being part of the Vancouver Canucks fandom and part of the general hockey fandom is one of my favourite things. I know that from the outside some do not understand what it means to be a Canucks fan or how the team has any fans. The truth is that despite what you may have heard or what you may have read, the Canucks do have fans and even more so, loyal fans. Fans that will support the team every season, through the good, the bad and everything in between. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t frustrating moments but it does mean that even in the tough moments, they are still my team.

If I’m going to focus on ONE significant moment about why I love hockey, it would be from this past season. In the last year, I witnessed both the bad and the good in being a female hockey fan.

The BAD: More so than any other year, I was berated and harassed for not being just a Canucks fan but a female hockey fan. How could I, as a woman, possibly understand all the complexities of the game? Going to the arena and seeing my team play is something that will always feel like magic. Nothing beats seeing a live game, the atmosphere is spectacular from pre-game to anthems to puck drop to the final buzzer. Do you know how awful it was to be sitting in the arena, in the place that feels like home and have it made to feel as though I did not belong? Or to be talked down to in condescending tones about the game?

It was absolutely unsettling to my core to be treated as though I was not allowed to be a part of this hockey world. Everything from my different perspective of the game to my jersey choices were unacceptable. Things that were said to me on multiple occasions are far too offensive to repeat but they hit me exactly where they were meant to and for a few moments made me think maybe they were right and that I did not belong in this hockey world. Sounds pretty crazy right?

The GOOD: Instead of keeping it inside as I may have been prone to do in the past, I decided to let it out in the only way I knew how, writing about it. In those moments in the last year when I felt under attack for being a female hockey fan, it inspired multiple blog posts and a few social media rants. The response of support I felt from countless members of the hockey community through friends and on social media was overwhelming. I realized I was not alone in my experiences. I learned that despite those voices who tried to make me feel as if women and hockey do not go together, they were wrong. I was embraced by others who have had similar experiences and welcomed by those who welcome hockey fans of all kinds.

I was reminded that while these experiences were extremely difficult to be a part of and absolutely disheartening in the moments, these experiences also made me stronger. If anything, instead of turning me away from the game, all of these experiences only made me love the game even more. I know that there will probably be more of those moments down the road when I may be attacked for loving this game BUT the difference is, I will no longer let anyone influence how or when I am a fan of the game or my team.

Hockey is for everyone.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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