Nashville Predators fans come in all shapes, sizes and genders.
I’ve been part of the Nashville Predators fanbase since 2011. Hockey had been part of my life before my first Preds game; my family and I occasionally went to Tampa Bay games when we lived in Florida. I more or less grew up on the diving board, waiting to plunge headfirst into this sport. I took that dive almost two years ago when I decided that I really like this sport and I want to be more than just a casual fan.
That’s when most of my problems started. The more I delved into hockey, the more I realized that there is a very vocal group of fans who don’t want me here. It’s easy to block them out, but at the same time, the world can feel very hostile to someone who is just trying to learn more about a sport she loves.
People want to make a big deal out of the fact that there are girls who like hockey. The same way that people make a big deal over girls who like football and NHRA races. For some reason, it’s shocking. People have this idea that women who can chug beers and talk shop are superior; this idea that females who don’t wear pink are superior to girls who do.
I say “people” because men aren’t the only perpetrators of this standard. When I started learning more about hockey, I stumbled across an article written by another woman saying that women’s cut jerseys are the most ridiculous thing ever – “just buy a men’s jersey and shut up.”
Women are the loudest fans ripping other fans apart; “Real Hockey Girls” are the worst. They take it upon themselves to weed out the “fake fans” and “puck bunnies.” We have created an environment where women tear each other down to establish their worth.
How other people enjoy hockey will never really affect how I enjoy hockey. The fact that some women go to games purely to cheer on the best-looking players doesn’t affect how I enjoy the game. The fact that some women want to wear pink jerseys doesn’t devalue my men’s t-shirt. The fact that I know more about a certain player doesn’t make me a better fan; it just means that I really like that player.
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This group of fans makes it hard for new hockey fans to inch their way in. They talk a mile a minute and scorn you when you can’t keep up. It didn’t matter how often I said, “I don’t have cable at home, so it’s hard for me to watch games and follow the sport,” because all they heard was “I’m not a real fan.”
It didn’t matter how much I knew about my favorite team, if I didn’t have an opinion on nearly every player in the league, I wasn’t trying hard enough. But there is hope and it comes in the form of a Southern drawl.
While hockey fans, in general, have the Real Hockey Girl problem, the Nashville Predators fans are usually kinder and more welcoming. Maybe it’s because most of us were raised in the South and we have that whole “help your neighbor” mentality. It didn’t matter who I sat next to at the few games I’ve attended; someone was always there to help me figure things out and answer my questions.
There have always been people on social media who have helped me understand the statistics posted on websites and find links to game recaps. Other fans have helped make me the fan I am today.
You will always find someone who knows more than you and someone who knows less than you. It doesn’t matter how real or fake you think a fan is; if we’re there wearing our gold and cheering on the Nashville Predators, then we’re all real enough.