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One of the Boys: The Fandom of Hockey

Photo Courtesy of Rich Lam/ Getty Images

Hockey is the quintessential boys club. It always has, and in its own weird patriarchal way, will always be a boy club. Amidst the recent rape allegations and ban on pride wear, (two communities stick out within the hockey community; the girls and gays.

In the last decade, it’s not that women and gays in hockey have skyrocketed; they just have been more visible. There have been more opportunities for them not only to get involved in hockey but also to enjoy hockey. To form their own thoughts and pour their soul and emotion into the sport, which, unironically, is one of the most homoerotic sports to exist. Despite the (remove the) deep-rooted homophobia and sexism, hockey is unironically a sport of repression and insecurity. With women and members of the LBGTQ+ community facing constant suppression in their respective rights, seeing this enlightens a spark; a creative spark.

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Fanfiction, which used to be a looked-down-on internet phenomenon, is now integrated with society. From book tok on TikTok to adaptations of books that started out as fanfiction, it is a form of creative therapy. These authors, who have been outcast or put down by society, take a piece of media they enjoy and simply write. Everyone is somewhat guilty of it; daydreaming or fantasizing about something or someone you know is unattainable until you’re at the right time.

So come websites like Wattpad, Archive of Our Own and even, yes–TikTok. There are safer spaces for the exploration of fanfiction. Whatever you desire, it will most likely be there. If it’s not there, you have access to create it. There are x-readers, ships, fan cams; you name it. And it is all accessible through any form of technology.

“Hockey Book Took” is a recent epidemic. From Icebreaker to Check Please!, the classics are staples. The appeal of ruffed-up men at fictional New England universities is a real thing and is expressed truthfully to a tee in these books. While both books are different, they are similar in the fact that they bring out a community of hockey fans, women and LBGTQ+ community who have been excluded from the boys club for years. In these books, they create a warm and welcoming universe, adding an emotional aspect to the homoerotic sport of hockey. Even just by looking the term up, thousands of books and pieces of media come through.

Photo Courtesy Olivia Salamone/ Bookstr

Hockey is both homoerotic and heterosexual. The appeal of Hughes falls on both sides of the spectrum, which are avidly expressed in YA novels and fanfiction. Case in point, fandom is always that shoulder to lean on in the worst of times. It takes you out of a cold and uncaring world, thrusting you into everything your heart wants and desires. It’s like an ice cream store; there are thousands of selections, and while it can be overwhelming, there is always flavor for you.

Thanks to social media, the love for hockey has become more widespread. People can now avidly enjoy it with less judgment or prejudice. The saying “reject modernity, embrace tradition” has come back into full swing. Even social media accounts for the NHL are aware that their audience isn’t just grown men in their basements and teenage boys, but young women and members of the LBGTQ+ community. Even in the last decade, there has been more content created exclusively for women. The NHL is taking more initiative in philanthropy and fan content that involves both women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Even just turning on the TV or opening your phone, you see more of a presence of women and LGBTQ+ members in hockey. They break the ice in what is known as the former’s boys club. Still, it’s not perfect. There are thousands of issues that don’t even pertain to fandom, such as the banning of pride gear, which was recently revoked due to backlash. Ten years ago, that wouldn’t have happened because this issue was known but not as visible. But now, it’s more visible than ever.

Fangirls and fandoms have always carried the backs of the media. When thought of, people automatically assume boy bands, books or something else. Fangirls have always been in sports and will continue to carry sports fandom on the back of their shoulders. For every meme, every book, every edit and every philanthropic innovation; you have to thank the girls and gays of the sports fandom, especially the hockey fandom.

Edited by: Lily Hayes

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