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This Kraken fan loves hockey but laments the misogyny in the stands

caption: Christy Maggio, a mega hockey fan, with their baby. Maggio loves the Kraken, Seattle's new hockey team, but laments misogyny heard from the stands.
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Christy Maggio, a mega hockey fan, with their baby. Maggio loves the Kraken, Seattle's new hockey team, but laments misogyny heard from the stands.
Courtesy of Christy Maggio

KUOW’s Bill Radke figured he can’t appreciate the team if he doesn’t understand the sport. So he watched a hockey game with a local fan.

Christy Maggio is known online as the Hockey Babbler. They “live doodle” hockey games on social media by drawing sketches of the action and posting them in real time.

To find out whether I could love hockey that much, I drove to Maggio's parents’ house to watch a game. When I got there, the Kraken were losing badly to the Philadelphia Flyers and the players were starting to punch each other, which apparently happens sometimes when a game gets lopsided.

Why do the referees let the hitting go on for so long?

“Mostly tradition,” Maggio said. Also, the appeal of “tough guys wanting to duke it out on the ice and having honor to stand up for one another physically. But ultimately, it's a relic of toxic masculinity, to be honest, because it doesn't really solve anything and it just leads to people getting hurt.”

Maggio also finds toxic masculinity in the stands and on the team benches: fans and players shouting anti-gay slurs and calling players names for female reproductive parts that, when you think about it, are quite strong.

“Have you ever seen a woman give birth? That's crazy. That is way stronger than a face taking a punch.”

Maggio believes this misogynist, homophobic atmosphere is a big reason there aren’t more queer National Hockey League fans and openly queer players. (Just one player signed to an NHL contract is openly gay: Luke Prokop, of the Nashville Predators.)

Maggio is glad to see the NHL’s inclusion campaign “Hockey Is For Everyone,” but they also want the league to work to rid stadiums of those insults.

“Queer folks and hockey go together like peanut butter and jelly," they said. "We love this sport. It’s just sometimes, the sport doesn't necessarily love us back.”

Meanwhile, in women's hockey, “Queer folks are all over the place – out, proud, happy queer folks!”

Maggio told me about Julie Chu, the U.S. women's hockey team star who married a player from the Canadian women's team – “almost a Romeo and Juliet sort of situation and now they have kids together, it's beautiful.”

Maggio is part of the Women's Pro Hockey Seattle movement, which is trying to bring professional women's ice hockey team to our city. Maggio designed and produced stickers and enamel pins with a “pride glove,” a hockey glove with the rainbow colors of the pride flag.

Maggio gave rookie fans like me some advice: “Don’t watch the puck.”

I was having trouble following the “biscuit” as it rocketed around the ice and Maggio said that if you want to understand the action, it’s better to watch the players. I asked them why the NHL doesn’t just make the hockey puck bigger, so it’s easier to see.

“A bigger puck would be more difficult to score with, I think,” they said.

Me: “Well, what about a bigger puck and a bigger goal?”

Them: “So … like soccer?”

Me: “Yeah, what if you put grass down and the players can only use their feet?”

Them: “Yeah, what if you put grass down so you didn't slip as much and instead of having knives on your shoes, you just wore cleats?”

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