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To the Five for Howling Community

We need to talk about something important.

2016 NHL Awards Nominees
See that purple and blue streak of hair? That’s me.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hello readers, you probably know who I am. If not, my name’s Sarah and I write about the Coyotes here at Five For Howling and sometimes I write on my own personal site and The Blogger’s Tribune.

We need to have a chat.

If you’re curious about why I picked the attached photo? I’m in it. Hello.

On Thursday of last week, I was verbally attacked on a Pre-Game post for voicing an opinion about a player and fighting. Which is part of my writing description- I write commentary and editorials.

It feels like my voice gets lost because I write about the Coyotes, but that’s also because my voice is female. I have been getting the odd ‘lol u r a wimmins’ tweets every so often, or get dragged into an argument that I retweeted. But it’s never personal.

This incident has really gotten to me.

It’s being told by a stranger that I should stop writing because I don’t support fighting in hockey. (If you ask me nicely, I’ll give you my case as to why.)

But being called vulgar things by that person, triggered by the written word, and then being told by people I respect that ‘To do this you have to have thick skin. Ignore them. Don’t read the comments.’

This has nothing to do with ‘don’t read the comments’.

Would you say that to a male writer? That you need a thick skin to write? Is it because I reacted publicly and was actually emotionally compromised?

That shouldn’t matter, but it does.

Being verbally attacked should happen to no one, and as someone who went through almost 10 years of emotional and verbal abuse, I should feel safe in the community that I write for.

Do you know how hard it is to make your writing stand out when it’s a female voice?

There are few women in the scope of writing in the sports world because it’s hard to break into the boys club.

Even in the header photo, I am one of two women there, the rest were men. Even in that room that day, there were very few women reporters. It makes you question if you should keep writing. If anyone reads what you’re writing, if it’s worth it anymore.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of being brushed off, being told I have no idea what I’m talking about. Being treated less than equal then some of my male counterparts. I’m terrified that Five For Howling won’t need me anymore. That my access to the team will be pulled because of something that happens with my writing or in the comments. That I won’t get the credentials that I am working so hard for. That I’m just going to be told I’m not needed because no one cares about my content, again.

I don’t get paid for this. I do this because I love hockey.

I do this for the women and little girls whom I see game in and game out at Gila River Arena. Who want to be treated like normal hockey fans, because they are some of the most passionate fans you will meet. They cheer and howl for their team no matter what.

I refuse to give up being a voice for the voiceless in the hockey world. I have written about my own coming out and my struggle with anxiety. I have to work hard every day to keep up with what the team is up to. People search me out for information, in person at games and online. I work to write the best content I can for this website and the SB Nation network, which is like my family.

Writers are people too. Please remember this. Women in sports media are verbally attacked more than men on a daily basis. Think before you start yelling at a woman writer and decide if you would say the same thing if it was a man. Sometimes, we actually do know what we’re talking about.

We need to start a culture change when it comes how female writers are treated, read, and spoken to. Everyone has an opinion, it’s why there are civil discussions. If that doesn’t work for you? Too bad.

Because I’m here, and you better get used to it.

From the Managing Editor

When I took over as managing editor from Jamie Eisner in January of 2015, the first post I wrote in that capacity was entitled "Hockey is for Everyone". I wrote it while reflecting on my experiences as a late arrival on the hockey scene.

When I started writing in 2012, I had really only followed hockey for four years. There was a lot I did not know; there still is a lot I do not know.

Yet even through my worst predictions (remember when I thought the Coyotes would compete for a playoff spot in 2014-15?), I have never had my fitness to write questioned. And I believe at least part of the reason is because I get considerably more latitude as a man writing in hockey to have contentious (or even bad) opinions than many great women writers in this sport do.

I am not asking for people to never criticize the writing we do. I am sure we will earn more of it as time goes on. But we all have found hockey in our own ways, and we all have fallen in love with the game. And even if we all watch it differently, we all watch it.

So let’s all create a community to make hockey for everyone.