First of all, I just want to say that I never got around to actually submitting this to the Scarlet Caps “How I Became a Caps Fan” contest. However, after seeing the winning blog, I am compelled to post it now. I mean no offense to the blog writer–any hockey fan is a friend of mine and I don’t begrudge anyone’s path to becoming one. But I’m disappointed in the Scarlet Caps organization for picking an essay which, yet again, reinforces the stereotype of the female hockey fan who only exists as a foil to hockey-loving men. One who believes that, as a woman, “The options are: learn to like [hockey] or become a victim of it.” And while I understand the writer’s intention, it upsets me that the chosen winner “went with the cute and stopped talking hockey in order to salvage my social life” finding it okay to publicly love hockey again only after finding a man who didn’t mind.
At any rate, here is my un-submitted blog.
Asking how I became a Caps fan is a lot like asking how I found my favorite song, movie or book. I heard it, watched it or read it, and it just stayed with me. First and foremost, I am a hockey fan. I just love the sport and while many consider it to revolve around violence, I challenge them to look further and see what body checking and fighting often overshadow: the calculation of a power play, the precision of a tip in, when the other team falls for a bluffed one-timer or when they cheer for a goal before they realize they were robbed by the last-minute, off-the-line sweep of the goalie’s stick.
I could easily say that I became a Washington Capitals fan due to proximity; I grew up 40 minutes outside of DC. Then again, I was never a Redskins fan and football was a much bigger deal in my house than hockey. Still, we went to games at the old Capitals Center and later at Verizon, then called The MCI Center, and I got to see Bondra, Johansson, Hunter, and Kolzig. That’s my first hockey memory, actually, my mom telling me about “Olie the Goalie.” I love a good rhyming nickname. Another early memory is shaking my head with embarrassment when my little brother declared he was a Pens fan. It’s a family secret I’m only just now making public.
But those days are secondary. To me, being a fan of something is easy. It’s staying a fan of something that’s hard. All teams go through dry spells resulting from poor coaching, incompetent management, or just plain bad luck. Was it hard to be a fan of a team that, so far, has only made the Stanley Cup finals once and was shut out after four games? Yeah, it was, but now we see the results of having stayed fans, which really does feel extra special. I am, and have stayed, a Caps fan because they never stop making progress. They are not a team that only focuses on one thing at a time and always looks backwards to their past when considering the future. In the last five years, insightful drafting has made sure we have several of the NHL’s most dangerous and productive players, but trades and free-agent acquisitions has given us the depth that NHL teams absolutely need. Ovechkin, Green, Semin…all phenomenal players who still owe a lot to those other three lines.
And that might be the biggest reason I’m a Caps fan: this is an organization that acknowledges the past, looks toward the future, and wants to be the best franchise in the NHL–but not just with a team of superstars. Every player on every line gets the respect they deserve because you absolutely cannot have a team without them. I love the Caps because they play REAL hockey, the way it is meant to be played, and I absolutely love real hockey.
Let me know if you have a link you’d like me to add