I need to tell you about my friend.
My friend is:
- Employed full-time
- A hockey blogger who has been blogging about hockey and covering games for almost two years, and only recently started receiving a tiny amount of money for all that work
- Possessed of a Master’s degree
- An amazing parent who makes huge sacrifices every day
- A woman
Here is a video that someone sent her.
This is a very evocative video. It starts out kind of funny, and the men and the journalists laugh a little bit. But things devolve, as they do. The men start sweating. They can’t say the words out loud, and they can’t make eye contact with the journalists, all of whom have already read the ugly words. Heck, they read them when they opened up their email a day or so after publishing a post. As bloggers, we all open our emails after a post wondering what kinds of comments we’ll get (if any), and who’ll stop by for a hello and offer some insight. It’s why we blog! Opening your inbox to find a big steaming mass of hate is not something I’ve ever experienced, but I’ve had a teaspoon’s worth now and then. I can only imagine what it’s like.
This video particularly struck my friend because she has received similar comments. These comments do not just call into question her journalistic ability or knowledge of the game; they call into question her intelligence, her dedication to the sport, her usefulness to the species in general, and go on to suggest that she should be raped and left for dead.
“But the internet is full of assholes,” people will say. “If she didn’t want negative attention she shouldn’t have put herself out there,” others say.
For Love Of the Game
She didn’t put herself out there. She writes about hockey because she loves it. She covers games because she is passionate. We went to see the hockey documentary Red Army last year, and afterward she lit up for an hour, describing play positions, strategies, and filling me in on some of the current controversies surrounding the game. She was radiant.
She has a press pass, and she talks and Tweets about hockey with thousands of other fans (she has a huge following on Twitter). And yet, she receives vitriol and scorn from a few unbalanced individuals who are unable to accept that she loves the game, that she has channeled that love into something productive that gets her to press conferences, into games, into locker rooms to meet players, and worst of all, that gets her attention. She has worked tirelessly for love of the game and no other reason, and in her wake she has left amazing and insightful articles, intelligent discourse, and insightful discussion. She didn’t set out to do this, but it happened and journalism is better for it.
In many ways, my friend is my hero. She has fought some personal battles unrelated to hockey in the past few years that leave me in awe of her strength, patience, and compassion. Escaping into hockey keeps her sane, she says.
It is ridiculous that people cannot write about what they love without those open forums being poisoned by shitbags. Sure, the Greek philosophers speaking in the agorae of old expected to be catcalled or made fun of. People speaking against the Emperor in China were banished to death. People speaking against Popes have been excommunicated, if not straight up burned for heresy. If they were speaking against the current political climate and threatening the status quo, they expected to be threatened, and maybe even killed. But are we saying that this is the same thing? That sports journalists should expect death threats from irate readers? HOW IS THAT THE SAME THING? People are passionate about sports – I’ve seen my Dad lose his shit over the Miami Dolphins for going on 30 years, I know fans are passionate, it’s the root of the word ‘fanatic.’
Perhaps I am just being naive. I realize the world can be quite ugly, but it’s the only one we’ve got so we’re stuck with each other.
Let’s Do Something About This
Anyway, some fuckstick made my friend feel bad about herself for being a female hockey journalist, so I am trying to cheer her up. He has apparently been following her for some time, and left some highly personal observations in the comments about her. He seems to live in Canada, which is fortunate for my friend as she doesn’t have to worry about some nutbag showing up on her doorstep with a weapon, and yet that is a thing that worries her. Gamergate showed exactly how shitty and dangerous things can get for female journalists, no matter what they’re writing about, and I worry about my friend’s safety sometimes. But I’m only one Jen – I can only do so much. This is where <3 YOU <3 come in!
PLEASE retweet the video to raise awareness about the anti-bullying initiative!
Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tU-D-m2JY8
Video URL: https://youtu.be/9tU-D-m2JY8
Website: Just Not Sports
Please help make the voices of support louder than the voices of detraction.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great day!