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- Now What – Updated
Ladies of the League – Blogger Jen LC
- Updated: August 12, 2014
In the past couple of days, I have posted two articles looking at the subject of female sports writers, bloggers and sportscasters in a mini-series entitled “Ladies of the League”.
The idea behind this series stemmed from reading several articles about women having “no place in the sports reporting world”. This became even more disturbing to me as I noticed men (mostly) agreeing with this on social media. Some were even going as far as outright bashing well known female bloggers simply because they were women.
I’ve been through my fair share of discrimination as a hockey blogger, as most women in the blogging world have, and I may not know everything, but I know enough to know that these old school ways of thinking are completely unfounded and generally come from people who don’t have the stones to write an article themselves.
The purpose of this article is not to go all GIRL POWER!! on you. Even though some women could make these trash talking “men” dizzy with the amount of hockey knowledge they have, I just felt that it was important to show the blogging world that women can hold their own.
Today, I expanded my search to the USA and was lucky enough to speak with
This busy lady has a Personal Blog that serves as a catch all for posts that don’t exactly fit other places. Jen is mostly a Chicago Blackhawks fan, but…like most of us…she is a hockey junky in general and enjoys writing about other teams as well.
I wanted to get to know Jen a little better, so I asked her some questions about how she came to be involved in hockey blogging and generally what made her the blogger she is today. Her answers are below:
1. When did you start writing about hockey? What got you into it?
Writing has been part of my life for a long time. I’ve always been fond of it and in my career as an attorney, being able to write well has been very important. A while ago, I decided to sit out of the attorney life for a bit to take care of my family and so that my husband could take a promotion that requires a heavy amount of out of town travel. Our sons are in school now so I was filling my free time with learning about analytics in hockey. I’ve been a hockey fan since I was a kid so I was familiar with the rules, but it was not until I was an adult that I really started learning the nuts and bolts of how the game should be played. I have always leaned toward critical or analytical thinking, so my love for the sport combined with the analytics movement going on in hockey made for a natural fit.
I used Twitter to find people and resources to learn more about hockey analytics and read up on it. I followed discussions among people who were well versed in analytics so I could learn how to use different metrics. I was always met with a helpful answer or directed to someone who could give me an answer by these people, which made me feel welcome. They seemed genuinely excited that I shared their interest and wanted to learn more.
When the 2013-14 NHL season started, I was noticing a significant lack of analytics based coverage about the Chicago Blackhawks, who I follow closely. There were a few writers at one site who used analytics, but other than that there was really nothing out there. In November of 2013, I was discussing a young player the Blackhawks had called up with someone on Twitter and found that I just could not fit all of the thoughts I had about his play into such a limited medium. I decided to write an article about the player and the analytical reasons behind my feeling that he should stay with the team and center a specific line. I had seen some of my friends post things on WordPress so I thought I would give it a try. I thought, “Who am I to be posting something like this?” and “Are the people I respect for their hockey knowledge going to think I’m an idiot?”
I published it anyway and was completely floored by the response. It was overwhelmingly positive and I actually started to feel a little embarrassed (in a good way of course). That piece started some excellent discussions between myself and several other Blackhawks focused writers that lead to all of us gaining more knowledge about analytics and hockey. The following day, I was offered a spot writing for Second City Hockey and several other sites, which was an amazing affirmation for me. Now, only a little over 9 months later, I’m so glad I made the decision to write that article.
2. Do you feel there is a stigma about females blogging about hockey or sports in general?
I would not say there is a stigma. There is probably an undercurrent of doubt from a subset of fans that have a misogynistic attitude, but I’ve found them to be in the minority. Because I do a lot of analytics based work, I feel as though I’ve been judged more on the quality of my work as opposed to simply being a woman writing about sports. I have gotten my fair share of hate mail, negative comments and trolling based upon being a woman writing about sports, but again, those people tend to be in the minority. Sometimes the comments can be pretty hurtful but I’ve gotten to the point where I can ignore or laugh at most of them.
I think the main help to me as a woman writing about sports has been that I tend to use numbers and play breakdowns in my writing. It’s much harder to say I don’t know what I’m talking about when I can refute it with actual evidence. I certainly do not mind when people disagree with my conclusions based upon that evidence because reasonable minds can differ. I appreciate those different opinions much more when they are presented in a respectful manner of course. It’s hard to discuss things with someone who seems to only be interested in being insulting.
The main source of pushback that I run into seems to result from my opinions on the way women are treated or portrayed in sports. I think that tends to strike a nerve with some fans, but having allies on my side helps in those situations. I recently read an article about “Ice Girls” wherein a commenter argued that fans who do not know a lot about hockey should not be allowed to attend games. He essentially said that most of the women at hockey games were there for the pink jerseys and hot guys. I responded to his assertion by saying that new fans were good for the game and he responded by saying that I must be “one of those girls”, i.e. into hockey for the clothes and hot guys. Before I could even respond to that, the others in the forum, men and women alike, essentially ate him alive for assuming that about me based solely on the fact that I’m a woman. It was nice to know that I’ve gained enough respect in the fan community to be valued for my opinions about hockey regardless of my gender.
3. Are there any writers that you look up to? If so, who are they and why?
I try to read and support a variety of hockey writers. I really enjoy the analytics based pieces because that is what I am most interested in, but I greatly enjoy others as well. There are some writers who are amazingly funny or eloquent or insightful that I read regularly. I really enjoy reading Laura Saba’s pieces at SB Nations’ Eyes On The Prize site (Montreal Canadiens). I also like reading posts from Sam Fels at The Committed Indian. Andrew Cieslak, who writes for HockeeNight and The Committed Indian, is hilariously funny while still bringing some terrific insight. Writers with an analytical slant that I read a lot are Eric Tulsky, Tyler Dellow, Garret Hohl, Travis Yost, Dimitri Filipovic, Thomas Drance and Corey Masisak along with a slew of others.
4. If you could give any advice to women interested in writing about sports…what would it be?
My advice to women interested in writing about sports is cliché but it is “just do it”. I think many women who may be a bit intimidated with the prospect of what they will face writing about sports will find an amazing amount of support from the men and women who are already out there writing. There are some terrific allies in the hockey corner of sports writing and I’m sure there are in other sports as well.
5. Do you specialize in types of writing (analytical, post/pre game blogs, prospects, opinion pieces…all of the above)?
I tend to do an array of writing from post game recaps and short news blurbs to in depth analytical breakdowns. I usually keep my opinion pieces to my personal blog but that may change this season. I’ve tried my hand at adding some humor to pieces that actually took real research to put together, such as the Corsi Hockey League All-Stars post I did this summer and those have met with a good response as well so I suppose it’s not just my mom who thinks I’m actually funny sometimes.
6. Do you have a favorite article that you’ve written or one that got a lot of positive feedback or criticism? Tell me a bit about it.
A few months after I started writing, I had a rather difficult experience with being aggressively harassed on Twitter. It was a strange experience and prompted me to write an article about my experiences with being a woman in typically male dominated pursuits throughout my life. I wrote it mainly to get all of the feelings I had about it out of my head and onto the screen since that tends to be pretty therapeutic for me. I really didn’t think anyone other than my friends would read it, but it took off. I had people that I never would have expected to hear from reach out to me and show me terrific support and encouragement, such as Patrick Burke, Director of NHL Player Safety and President of the You Can Play Project; writers for NHL.com; hockey writers for numerous blogs and many other wonderful people.
It was an amazing experience. I went from feeling very alienated to feeling completely embraced by the hockey community. It was a great validation and made me realize that there were far more people who felt I belonged here than people who felt I was invading some sacred territory.
7. Where can we find you on social media/online?
I would like to thank Jen for taking the time to participate in this article. You can certainly tell that she is passionate about what she does – just as most hockey fans (male or female) are.
My friendly piece of advice to all of you hockey fans, when reading an article, base your opinion on the content of the blog, not the gender of the writer.