Colorado Avalanche: Being a Female Hockey Fan


Female Colorado Avalanche fans, as in the rest of the hockey world, sometimes feel like we have to explain what feminine fandom looks like.

Recently a fellow Colorado Avalanche fan groused on Twitter that she was being talked down to as a sports fan because of her gender:

Apparently a writer for a Philadelphia-based sports column had called her “darling” while denigrating her sports opinions.

I think you can tell by her tweet she’s a pretty passionate person. (Excuse the profanity — that was actually the cleaner tweet!)

Male vs Female Hockey Fans

Female sports fans come across the kind of treatment found above on a regular basis. Either it’s thought that we’re wannabe puck bunnies (or whatever you call bunnies in other sports), bandwagon fans or just plain uninformed.

If you’re a guy reading this, I have to challenge you — don’t you know by now we women are complicated?! That doesn’t change in our hockey fandom! Let me explain.

As a blogger about the Colorado Avalanche, I give myself license to be obsessed, reading everything, watching all their videos, interacting on social media. I like to joke that I probably know way more about the team than I should.

I also talk hockey with anyone who proves willing — including Minnesota Wild fans! (True confession — I actually like Chicago Blackhawks fans because they know hockey and just laugh when you insult them.)

My unofficial consensus is that men talk sports as a responsibility. It’s like they know that, as men, they should be able to talk some sports. What’s more, they feel like they must talk intelligently about sports.

Women don’t face that pressure. Maybe it’s a blessing. We talk sports because we like sports, not because anyone expects us to discuss that topic.

To be honest, I find myself having to hide some of my Avs knowledge from a lot of men. I’ll mention a prospect, and they get a little defensive because they don’t know about him. That’s a generalization, and I’ve certainly had some great conversations with male hockey fans, but that has been my experience.

Conversely, if a woman is a hockey fan, she’s all up in that business. My most passionate — read, contentious — hockey conversations have been with fellow female Avalanche fans.

There could be a reason for that…

Gestalt Fandom

Part of the misconception about female hockey fans comes in our interest in the players and the uniforms. (Although, judging by Twitter, it’s the men who hate the Colorado Avalanche uni-prons the most and who have the strongest opinions on their third uniforms.)

Here’s where we women get complicated. We often approach a subject with a gestalt point of view. I’m interested in the way plays form, systems and strategy. I’m also interested in the psychology behind the game.

And, I’m a people person, so I follow a lot of the players on social media. So, I just happen to know that Matt Duchene’s dog, Paisley the Brittany, gets ice cream on his birthday, and Eric Gelinas just tried night golfing for the first time.

Those details are not important, but they’re interesting. (Isn’t ice cream bad for dogs? Do the golf balls light up when you play at night?)

I’ve got a female Avs fan friend who has a whole system of helping determine if players wives/girlfriends were more the supportive type or if they tried to steal the limelight. (She didn’t like Nathan MacKinnon’s ex, and you can imagine her opinion of Semyon Varlamov’s ex. Duchene’s fiancee gets high marks from her, though.) She’s also a fan who hates attending games with friends because she wants to watch every second of the game closely, not socialize.

I like to get a feel for the Colorado Avalanche players’ personalities because I think that helps determine who they are as players — especially when it comes to leadership. As a people person, I like to read between the lines — that’s how I approach player and coach interviews.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a breakaway or that I won’t grouse about Varlamov’s cheating the posts.

Let’s attend to the big one now.

Good Looking Players

More from Mile High Sticking

Hockey players are fit men in the prime of their lives. A large majority of them are good-looking. As a woman, I’m going to find some of them attractive.

This is a fuzzy line that we female hockey fans have to define for ourselves. I have a friend who will grudgingly acknowledge a player is hot but is so careful to keep herself out of conversations that focus on that. A lot of female fans simply categorize — these are the hot players, these are the good players, these are players I like because they’re on my team. Some players make all three categories.

Personally, I don’t objectify any player I respect — which is why I find Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise so good-looking. (See what I did there?)

Truthfully, I wasn’t always like that. Another confession — good-looking players were what first got me into hockey. (Blame Jaromir Jagr and his super-sexy mullet in the 1990s.) So what? I know a couple male fans who got into the Colorado Avalanche because someone gave then an Avs hat. Is that really more legitimate?

My hockey knowledge didn’t end there, and my hockey fandom is no longer based on that. Yes, Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi is very handsome. I also hate him because he has a bad habit of scoring on the Colorado Avalanche. I also think he’s a better offensive defenseman than Tyson Barrie, so I hope the Avs can sign Barrie to a similar deal (long-term with an average annual value of $4 million). Josi’s Instagram is boring.

In summary, hockey fandom is a gestalt affair for women. We like to talk, and we’ll talk anything hockey. That could be how sharp the newest Colorado Avalanche third uniforms are, how big Mikkel Boedker’s thighs are supposed to be (supposedly gigantic), how happy we are that Matt Duchene learned how to use hair product, how fast a line comprised of Duchene, MacKinnon and Tyson Jost could one day be, how inept the Department of Player Safety is…

Next: Tiers of Fandom

Next: No Tiers of Fandom

In general, I think female Colorado Avalanche fans are especially lucky, and not (just) because our team is the greatest. Colorado is a sports-loving state, and the Denver Broncos fandom has paved the way. Men here are far from surprised when you’re into sports.

And we try to be fair. I think the majority of us realize men would prefer to talk about our captain’s leading by example rather than his classic good looks.