Sitting by the rink at a Flyers game is always a blast. But this time brought a new element to the experience – sitting at the end of the rink where the Flyers warm up before the game. My husband I got to our seats an hour before game time to find a group of girls (perhaps I should call them young ladies) in Flyers jerseys standing by the glass. They were chattering about the Flyers and holding pink, heart-shaped signs that said “stud” on one side and “heartbreaker” on the other. My first thought was, wow that’s gutsy (and a bit silly). And my second thought was, wow, this warm-up should be interesting.
As soon as the Flyers hit the ice, the girls started holding up the signs as different players skated by. None of Flyers seemed to take notice until a Flyers defenseman, during a stretching session, looked over his shoulder at the girls and gave them a huge grin. Then, a few minutes later, he did it again. I wondered if the girls had any personal experience with the Flyers players, knowing full well that puck bunnies abound at all rinks. But I chose to assume that this player was just being sweet and showing appreciation for his fans.
It is well known that the Flyers are aware of their status as professional athletes and use it well. They are known to frequently visit a children’s hospital in Philadelphia, and they are involved in various charity events and efforts.
My point is: the Flyers are appreciative of their many fans, including the female ones. When I go to Flyers games (my husband and I have partial plan season tickets), I am pleased at the number of female fans that I see. And, when looking and listening to what goes on around me at the games, I am pleased to see and hear a lot of women who are very into the game and very knowledgeable about it. For example, sitting next to me at this particular game were a group of young ladies who were very knowledgeable about the game and very intense about every play.
Hockey has always been mainly a man’s sport and an “ole boy’s network”. But I think things are slowly changing. The USA women’s hockey team just won the silver medal in the Winter Olympics. The NHL Network has an excellent female sportscaster who is knowledgeable about the game and seems well-respected. And, I assume that females are visible in NHL front offices (but I do not know that for sure). Ultimately, more female fans can only be good for the NHL and the sport in general. And, it takes all kinds of female fans who go to the games for different reasons. And, for this fan, a day sitting rink-side at a Flyers game is pretty high on the list of my favorite kind of day.