The Washington Capitals have led the National Hockey League in embracing new media and welcoming bloggers into the press box and behind the scenes. Hockey journalism (both mainstream and new media) has traditionally been a male-dominated field. But with a growing number of both female fans and journalists alike following the sport, the number of women in the press box has risen noticeably over the years. I have held media credentials for my own blog, Musings of a Hockey Mom, for the past two seasons and personally commend the Caps PR staff and the entire organization for their efforts in going above and beyond in reaching out to new media as well recognizing the unique niche of their burgeoning female fan base!
Covering the Capitals are some of the most creative, knowledgeable and sports-savvy female writers in the blogosphere. I’ve personally had the opportunity to work with these fabulous writers and wanted to share their unique perspective on being a female hockey fan along with their experiences as women in the press box:
has written about the Washington Capitals for Love the Game, Don’t Like Puck Bunnies (http://idlehandsbreedkaos.blogspot.com) since February 2008. She contributes to the Scarlet Blog, and has been a guest on several Blog Talk Radio programs discussing the Capitals. Chasta also writes for the NOVA Cool Cats special hockey team, and is involved with the Washington Capitals Fan Club. She tweets about hockey and the Capitals on Twitter as @love_the_game.
is a lifelong Caps fan who grew up idolizing hockey players while her friends focused only on the burgundy and gold. She spent four years in the hockey Mecca of Montreal, attending McGill University and adopting a somewhat unhealthy love of the Canadiens before returning to her city and her Caps in 2004. She started writing "A View from the Cheap Seats" under the moniker of CapsChick in 2006 and recently joined the fabulous crew over at Japers' Rink (www.japersrink.com/) to give the boys some female supervision and insight.
, or DC Sports Chick as she's known in the blogging community, has been writing about the Capitals for more than four years. She started her own blog in 2005, and joined On Frozen Blog (www.onfrozenblog.com), the "haven for the hockey malnourished," in 2007. Liz does her best to balance out the three other writers for the blog, who happen to be male, by providing a female perspective. She has appeared on Hockey Night in Canada, the NBC4 local news, and Comcast's Washington Post Live. Liz was also part of the Sports Journey Radio show in 2006 and 2007.
When and how did you become a Capitals fan?
I became a Caps fan in the early 2000s after seeing my first live game at MCI Center. I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania watching the Flyers on television (never rooted for the team), but did not become a true hockey fan until seeing a live game.
I was born into it – My dad attended the very first preseason game in DC, bought season tickets that very night, and the rest is history. There was never a time in my childhood where the Caps weren’t front and center for our family.
I grew up in Flyers territory, but didn’t get into hockey until I met my now-husband in 2000. He was a HUGE hockey fan. I still remember the first game I attended; it was a pre-season game (ironically) against the Flyers. Had I known how much fun hockey was, I would have gone to a game ages ago!
What is your favorite part of the game?
I enjoy watching most the hard work put forth by the goaltenders. Jacques Plante expressed it best when he said, "How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?" I couldn’t have that job so I envy the mental toughness of any goaltender that is a glutton for that type of punishment.
The speed. There is so much to love about hockey but I find that there is really no other sport that involves this kind of pace, where things can change in an instant and sometimes the ice can become another player in the game. Football has the hitting but moves at a snail's pace; baseball has the strategy but hours can pass before anything interesting happens.
As much as I usually enjoy the action on the ice, I love watching Mites On Ice after the first period. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to be on a peewee team so that she can be out there too.
When did you start writing about the Caps? What inspired you to start your blog?
I started writing about the Caps a little over three years ago, right before the 2006-07 season.
My blog came about for a number of different reasons, really. I'd always loved writing, so combining my two passions of writing and hockey felt really natural - especially after seeing the great work by local hockey blogging pioneers like Liz Chang and Japers' Rink. But more importantly, I felt like I needed an outlet for my hockey-related ramblings that wouldn't drive the people around me completely crazy. I wanted a community where I could talk about hockey with equally passionate people, even if that community included just two or three people.
I began writing about the team in February 2008 when I started Love the Game, Don’t Like Puck Bunnies (http://idlehandsbreedkaos.blogspot.com). I needed a creative outlet and chose the team and hockey as the topic
I started my own blog in July 2005, primarily to rant about the Nationals and sports in general. I had been to a particularly bad Nats game and wanted to share my frustration with the world at large. I also talked a lot about the Caps, since I was following them closely by that point. In October 2007, I joined On Frozen Blog (www.onfrozenblog.com) to blog exclusively about hockey.
I know you meet lots of female hockey fans in your travels – why do you think that the NHL (specifically the Capitals) is drawing larger numbers of female fans?
I’m not sure why women are becoming more fans of the sport, but I know it’s not because of the efforts made by the NHL. The NHL is still working on how to best market to women. Unfortunately they have ostracized many by introducing the pink jerseys.
I think it’s great that the Capitals created Scarlet Caps. I hope more women will be involved in the initiative and use it as a forum to express their passion for the team and sport, as well as to meet other female hockey fans.
There could be a lot of factors. For one, something about hockey appeals to women - I think we appreciate that it's intense and physical without being violent for violence's sake. I think women see that the vast majority of the players are down to earth and connect to the players on a different level.
As for the Caps, they're a young, exciting and, yes, good-looking team. They're fun and exciting to watch, capturing all of the best parts of the sport on one team. At the same time they're a personable and funny group, and I think women generally are drawn to teams with that aspect.
What is it like being a female new media member/journalist in a male-dominated press box?
I was nervous but gradually it has become less intimidating to be in the press box with mostly men. My first time in the press box was to cover the rookies’ scrimmage on September 19, 2008 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I sat wedged between Tarik El-Bashir and Corey Masisak, and immediately tried to fit right in. I was so worried that I would stick out like a sore thumb and make it quite obvious that it was my first gig in the media room. But luckily no one made me feel out of place, and until this day no one has made me feel out of place. The best experience though is not that I have garnered the respect from the men in the press box, but that Lisa Hillary talks about the game with me in the ladies room.
It was intimidating at first, particularly when I was expecting; you don’t see many pregnant women in the press box. However, it’s been an eye-opening experience and a growth opportunity for me. I’ve had access to the press box since 2006, and there’s definitely been a change in the number of women in the press box. I’m encouraged to see more and more women (and especially female bloggers) attending as media members at games and special events.
It's been a really interesting experience. First of all, I can't say enough about how amazing the Caps' PR staff has been and continues to be - they're as open with the new media as they are with the mainstream outlets and have been so gracious when it comes to even getting behind the scenes access.
But mostly what I've taken away from it is how down to earth the majority of these guys are. I've gotten to talk to a number of the players one on one and have been constantly impressed with how willing they are to talk - and how well-spoken so many of them surprisingly are. This really is a great bunch of guys.
What advice would you give new female fans on how to learn more about the game?
Go to games. Ask questions. That's the best way to learn - to see it live and ask questions about what you're seeing, and to remember that there are no stupid questions when you're learning. All of us started out as new fans, whether we began watching at age 2 or age 22 or age 52. I've been watching the sport my whole life and I find there are rules or intricacies of the game that I'm still learning.
: Seek out the good hockey blogs (including those by fans of other teams) and read them on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to leave comments and start discussions. Besides going to games or watching them on TV, that’s one of the best ways to learn. Be engaged!
To gain knowledge in any field you have to meet people that understand the field, read about the subject, get first-hand experience, observe, and formulate your own opinions.
Twitter has been a valuable resource in finding other female hockey fans (a list of female hockey fans can be found at @love_the_game/female-hockey-fans) and learning about the sport—you can get the inside scoop and find links to various articles. [If you are on Twitter, be sure to join the Tweetups at Caps home games in Section 108 during intermissions—good chance to meet some real fans.]
Scarlet Caps is another great resource for females to learn more about the game and to meet other female hockey fans.
Thanks to all of these very gifted ladies for sharing their thoughts with us – be sure to visit their respective blogs for more insights into the team and the game. Hope to see you all at Hockey N’Heels on November 19!
Scarlet Blog by Leslie Silvey (Musings of a Hockey Mom - http://hockeymomva.blogspot.com/)