Over the past few months, there has been an all-out war being waged online through blog posts and on Twitter. This war, much like armed conflicts that have taken place around the world, goes through quiet periods where each side gathers surveillance on the other and then erupts in fire fights every now and then.
What could cause such unrest? The answer is, of all things, puck bunnies, or rather one alleged puck bunny in particular. It all seems to have started sometime after a girl started tweeting as PsychoPuckLady and linking to her blog on Twitter. On the blog, she mostly talks about her trips to watch hockey in a number of NHL and major junior markets. But what she also does is discuss the so called “puck bunny” phenomenon. A LOT. She even wrote a book about it, which was available to read on her blog site for a time, but has been taken down. I’ve read a lot of her blog. I felt it was important to do the research before making any conclusions about her or about what she has to say.
As more and more people started following her, some girls took exception to what she had to say. They interpret her blog as a “sex site” and a place for her to describe all the hockey players she has allegedly known in a carnal way. They started calling her names, writing blog posts about her, and one person even started an entire blog (complete with an associated twitter account) denouncing her. A number of people on Twitter even started calling out their followers, telling them they were being “judged” for following the PsychoPuckLady account.
There has been a lot of name calling from both sides, and quite frankly, I’m tired of it. I’m a female hockey fan. I watch hockey games –sometimes I even get to GO to games (I’m a Habs fan living in Montreal. Tickets are VERY hard to come by, but every now and then, I find a way). I can explain most of the rules clearly and succinctly. I appreciate the athleticism required to compete at that level. But I am also still female and so yes, I do notice when a player happens to be good looking. Does that make me a puck bunny? No, it doesn’t.
“Puck bunnies”, in the strictest sense of the derogation it’s meant to imply, do whatever it takes to land themselves a hockey-playing conquest. In fact, having read at least some of PsychoPuckLady’s book while it was available, this is exactly the point she seemed to be making – that a subculture exists where women follow hockey players as opposed to the game of hockey itself. The book was an interesting study of the phenomenon that didn’t necessarily condone it, just described it. And reading through her blog itself, I didn’t find any reference to her having slept with any players. A bit of fancying of certain players? Sure – find me a female hockey fan who doesn’t! In general, her blog is sensationalist and a bit silly, and I certainly don’t buy in to it. But at the end of the day, the site isn’t the real problem.
The real problem lies in the fact that all the fighting has caused a lot of division, which is bad for ALL female hockey fans, whether they can spout off every goalies GAA from memory, or they are more casual fans. A lot of women would describe themselves as a hockey fan, and who are we to try and force a definition of what constitutes a “real” hockey fan? I think anyone who likes and appreciates the game of hockey at any level is a hockey fan.
If we consider the stats that are out there, which are admittedly few and mostly outdated, self-described female hockey fans make up roughly 40% of all hockey fans. In a recent study of social networking, hockey fans were found to be the most gender balanced and the most well-connected online. All of this adds up to female hockey fans representing nearly half of all hockey fans, and also being a very vocal bunch. We have a strong voice in social media, and this means people take notice of things like this ongoing fight between the women of hockey. Is this really the image we want female hockey fans to have? A divided, vindictive, and spiteful group, rather than the interested, intelligent, and informed female hockey fans that I have found to be the rule, rather than the exception?
I’m not saying that we all need to agree or even to endorse what everyone else has to say, but I think we need to take the time to consider each others’ point of view. There are also alternative approaches to deal with things you don’t agree with. Communicate by email. Open a dialogue about what you disagree with. I’ve found that, in general, people respond much better to civil communication than to being publicly called out. In the process, we can improve the image of all female hockey fans and maybe even grow to understand each other a little better.