Dear Sports Fan,
The guy I’m dating has started to grow a “playoff beard” to support his favorite hockey team. Can you tell me what he could possibly be thinking? And is there anything I can do to stop him?
The growing of a playoff beard in the context of a relationship can be a very delicate issue, particularly if you are not into your beau’s tonsorial experiment for stylistic reasons. We must deal with whether it’s okay to try to influence the beard, and if so, what the best methods are.
In most cases, I would argue that a partner’s appearance is out of bounds. Everyone influences their partner’s style by complimenting them on certain choices and staying silent on others. It’s even okay to say things like, “Honey, those neon teal capris are very flattering on you, but I think I prefer the way a simple pair of jeans allows your natural elegance to shine through.” It’s fine to express an opinion, but when it comes to actually asking, negotiating, or demanding a stylistic change… that crosses a line and becomes an infringement on your partner’s individuality and personal control.
Is a playoff beard really a choice of style though? I don’t think so. I think it’s an element of fandom divorced from style. It’s more akin to painting your face on game day or wearing giant foam fingers than cutting bangs into your hair. It’s very likely that he is doing this because somewhere deep down, he feels like his actions will affect the success of his team. This is as obviously insane as it is common.
One argument you could make is that the playoff beard isn’t really as much of a rule as people think it is. The playoff beard is a relatively recent tradition, having been started by the New York Islanders in the 1980s. It was immediately correlated with victory when the Islanders won four Stanley Cup championships in a row. The NHL has been around since 1917, so the majority of its history has been spent sans beard. Even since 1980 there have been lulls and resurgences in the popularity of the playoff beard. For instance, in 2009 the Detroit Red Wings used the slogan “The Beard is Back” on their way to the finals. Unless your date is a Red Wings fan, he probably hates that team. Ask him if he really wants to be a part of something the Red Wings “brought back.”
If you prefer the indirect approach, here are a couple things you might want to try.
- Wait until day four. This is probably the itchiest day in the history of the universe. Watch for a particularly agonized moment and mention how much more you enjoy kissing his neck when it’s smooth.
- According to the rules of playoff beards, not being able to grow a beard does not excuse you. For example, Patrick Kane grew a playoff mullet a couple years back. Tell your boyfriend that you’re going to join him this playoff season as best you can. According to the rules, “Women are not exempt from playoff beards. Some refuse to shave their legs…others get more…um…creative. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Your third option is to embrace the playoff beard! You might be surprised at how much you grow to like the “fuzzy and furry facial accoutrement” growing on his face. The female bloggers over at Puck Daddy certainly do — they just wrote a “Guide to 2012 Stanley Cup scruff.” Encourage him to take part in the beard-based charity drive at Beard-A-Thon where hockey fans have raised over $100,000 so far!