Women’s Hockey doesn’t count

Photo: The Star
Photo: The Star

I’m not going to name names. I’m not going to point fingers. If you’re a close follower of the Elite Ice Hockey League or even the Sheffield Steelers, I’ll give you one guess as to who uttered the words that have made the title of this article. How old are you, 12? It’s 2014, time to get a grip.

Women’s hockey doesn’t count? You must be watching a completely different tournament my friend. (If you’re even watching at all). This is the closest, tightest and most competitive this Olympic tournament has ever been. Even if Canada and the United States are still the two main powerhouses, the rest of the world is indeed catching up. Case in point: JAPAN made the Olympic tournament.

As with the junior leagues and NHL, foreign women are coming to North American shores to pursue their hockey dreams. There are scholarships galore for collegiate teams across Canada and the U.S. Canada has their own professional women’s league and the U.S. isn’t too far behind. It’s these leagues and structures that are making the girls interested in the world of hockey from the middle of nowhere, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Finland, and turning them into household names and superstars.  Finnish goaltending sensation Noora Raty  went to the same University as Phil Kessel.

Finland_national_women's_ice_hockey_teamIt’s not real hockey because it’s not physical. Hmmm. Okay, you must have missed the two brawls earlier this year. I’ll let you youtube it yourself.

These women train just as hard, hell if not harder then the men do. Why? Because they’re women. For some strange reason in this world, they
have to compete even more to get NOTICED. Once they are noticed, its bullshit male counterparts tend to come out with idiotic sayings like this. Why? Because they are threatened. They know what they see is good. God forbid, women’s hockey got more popular then men’s right?!

My Twitter timeline was FILLED with men who said to sign up Noora Raty or Florence Schilling to their favourite NHL teams because of they way they were playing. Some were saying they’d be afraid to stand in front of a Megan Agosta or Amanda Kessel slapshot. And they’re right.

kI played competitive fastball for years. My idol was Jennie Finch as I was a pitcher. I heard it all growing up, and I was even mistaken for a boy because of how hard I threw. (Or could’ve been the buzzcut I had going on but I digress.) I used to write stories in elementary school about playing in the Olympics for Team Canada. Guess what? Can’t do that anymore as they pulled fast-pitch softball out of the Olympics. Why? Less viewership. Men would rather watch men play boring baseball.

Don’t let that happen to Women’s Hockey. They deserve more then that. I’d put money on the U.S. and Canadian women’s team beating the Sheffield Steelers.

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. ukhockeyfan says:

    Reblogged this on ukhockeyfan and commented:
    Sexism nor stupidity should be stood for, let alone together. Great job Ashley.

  2. sportsgrl says:

    Couldn’t believe his best retort was to come see Sheffield play and I’d change my mind about his comment. Not likely. Not for anything. Good job.

  3. Viv Steadman says:

    The fact that women’s ice hockey is perceived as not as physical is because of MEN in the suits somewhere in patriarchal hockey land who most patronisingly decided that the poor little wimminz couldn’t POSSIBLY play a game where they actually put full checks on each other. From what I’ve seen of the women’s game on both sides of the Atlantic, if the body checking rule was removed they’d be more than happy.

    Also, the full face protection rule. Yeah, let’s allow the women to play “the man’s game for all the family” (I hate that phrase) but we can’t allow them to decide for themselves whether they should protect their faces. I mean, we all know that the men decided that their Crown Jewels were more important than their visage for many years.

    The patronisation of these professional athletes has made me sick, quite frankly, although I have enjoyed the games themselves.

    Oh, and he who shall not be named is an embarrassment to British Hockey, and the club that he sticks to like a limpet should ditch him and beg on their very knees for their coach to return.

  4. Great article Ashley, but doesn’t surprise me.
    Having coached the first England women’s team with Daryl Morvan, we faced all sorts of challenges and in preparation for a tournament in Switzerland, we found it hard to convince the powers that be that we required more than one session a month to be competitive.
    Female Ice Hockey simply didn’t register with their intentions and plans for progress within the British game, yet when we arrived in Switzerland we were faced with the challenge of competing with Germany who’s ladies were on the ice once a day, the Canadians who were on the ice once a day and the list went on.
    However our ladies took pride in pulling on that jersey and played with passion unrivaled by their competitors, something that was clearly lacking in some quarters of the men’s game at the time.
    The problem in the British game, was and, may still be that it is full of arse kissers, with little knowledge of the game or understanding of the woman who play in the leagues.

  5. Mark says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said. I’ve watched as much of the hockey as I can, just because the quality is so high in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. Just a heads up though – your point about softball in the Olympics isn’t really true. Softball AND baseball were both voted out of the Olympics at the same time, and will both be out until after 2020 at least. It was the sport I most wanted tickets to at London 2012, so wasn’t too pleased!

    1. MarchHockey says:

      I know they both were, but I was talking about them at the time. At the time they were still involved.

  6. A. H says:

    Dominic McGill I think you nailed it in your last paragraph perfectly. Far too many influential people in the British game (and yes particularly womens) that are very much out for their own gain (and usually their kids/partners etc.) rather than that of the sport. Massive shame as there’s a wealth of talent up and down the country.

  7. I doubt he has any real opinion or objection to women’s hockey, but rather thrives on manufacturing controversy in order to promote his pro-Elite League agenda.
    In commenting on it, people are providing a publicity for the train of thought they are objecting to.

  8. Steve says:

    As I sat in my recliner with a broken neck I suffered playing rec hockey(in ten years of pro hockey I never broke my neck), I watched from the edge of my seat as Canada pulled off he win against the Swiss. To say that was not hockey or entertaining only shows how clueless a person is about what the game is all about. There was lots of physical play, more than I’ve witnessed first hand in men’s pro hockey at times, there was finesse, speed, creativity, good defense and excellent goal tending; what more would a hockey fan want? The person who said this, I knew who it was right away because his approach to hockey and the Steelers is there is no such thing as bad publicity, unfortunately, he is very wrong and often alienates many people and turns them off hockey. He is an announcer, realtor and a showman, but he’s not and never will be a hockey person. Hockey people show respect, carry themselves with class and know when to keep their mouths shut.

  9. Alice says:

    Bet that same man will be cheering on the GB womens curling, the GB speed skater Elise Christie, slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes (Sheffield lass don’t you know) and all the other women competing for GB in other sports, bet his comments would be different if the GB womens Hockey team were in the final rounds.

    1. Stewart says:

      Sadly I doubt that it would. As Steve said above, he (wrongly) believes that any publicity is good publicity and in spouting off does more harm than good to the sport he professes to represent

  10. humanfeedme says:

    The number of female hockey players in Canada and the U.S.A have sky rocketed in the last five years. It is assumed that over another five years the number of female players will out number the males in the minor leagues. The major reason why female hockey has taken off is accessibility. Every city has several rinks ( some with multiple rinks in one complex). Every small town has a rink whether is a frozen puddle that we hand shovel or a community built complex. Every team does major fundraising to help cut the costs to the players but still allows rinks to make money. Females play with the love and passion for the game, we all know we can’t make a living playing hockey, maybe you’ll be good enough for a full scholarship if not you play soley on the love for the sport. While the CWHL is considered a professional league the players are not compensated and many must either continue to work full time or are still in school. The U.S.A. Is the place many Canadians go to receive full scholarships because Canadian universities only have a set amount of money available per team. Even in North America it still has a long way to go. They have considered dropping the females out of the Olympics soley because of the few super nations that tend to have blow out scores against other nations, to give the sport a chance to grow in other countries to make a tighter competition and hence get more viewers. I am a strong supporter of female hockey, and I really have little knowledge to how the programs run where you are. However, being a Canadian it is a community effort to keep it going. Many of the rinks in small towns are run soley off of volunteers to make sure all people ( man or woman) get fair ice time. If you are not one of those elite players here ( there are only 5 teams in the CWHL). Or do not have the funds to pay for travel and to continue to play high end hockey you play ASHL a low cost city league. You get no ice time to practice and play a handful of games for the season and do No traveling (unless you sign for a tournament that are few are far between). Those that do make it to provincial (under 18 teams), get full scholarships, and make it to Team Canada are a select incredibly fit, dedicated, and intelligent group of woman. Otherwise you pay to play. And money being the universal language speaks louder than gender, the more you have the more ice time you get. Although who ever said female hockey doesn’t matter should be shown a Calendar is 2014 days of sexism are done. Keep fighting for your right to receive fair ice time, it must be rough having little accessibility to ice.

  11. humanfeedme says:

    Great article. I really don’t have a good working knowledge of how the sport works there. However, being a Canadian I do know we get ice when we need it for a few reasons. Accessibility is the main thing, in canada every city has numerous rinks, some rinks have multiple ice surfaces. Every small town has some form of rink ( an old barn with an ice surface, a frozen dug out or a community built rink). But the major reason we have so much accessibility is money. You pay big money to play, and you fundraise. Every team is out selling something to make money to cover there rink fees. In our minor hockey programs female hockey has caught on incredibly well, so well that the rates of female players may soon exceed the males. Some teams get ice once a week others get ice one a day, it really depends on your area, how many teams, and how many rinks. But the biggest factor is money. Communities come together to support our youth male and female. There are beautiful structures available completely built and maintained by volunteers to get people busy and give everyone a chance at fair play. The biggest problem now is players are coming out of the minor leagues and still want to play. Some play university hockey and in canada you pay for it ( very rarely are full or any scholarships given to female hockey players). And it’s simply because the teams don’t have enough funding yet, some are so dedicated they will play semi pro a league that has started and failed many different times. Because there is no sponsorship players play off of dedication. The CWHL is considered a pro league but there are only 5 teams and no money. Players pay from their own pockets to continue to play elite hockey and they do it because they love the sport. For those that don’t make those elite teams there are the ASHL city leagues that give you a set amount of games and no practice time, you play teams within your city and you do no traveling. Enough to keep players content and allow them to enjoy the sport they love. Even here if ice is not available in your city you fundraise or pay out of pocket and car pool to a small town for practice. You may only get practice at 5am or 11pm but we are all just happy to get practice.
    They have discussed taking female hockey out of the Olympics for many years only because the few super teams blow everyone else out of the water. They argue that the competition is still not yet strong enough with other nations. And in some cases that is correct. I don’t know about you but if I were to spend my entire life training and then get to the Olympics and only play 3 competitive teams I would be a bit disappointed. No one wants to play a game where one team is blown out of the water. It’s not fun for players or viewers. There was talk about just changing the set up, eliminating the round robin system. Other countries need to catch up. And that’s were your battle begins.. How do you catch up to nations that have rinks in every back yard and how can you catch up when you don’t have ice available. If sexist remarks are being made, or your being denied ice because of your gender consult your charter of rights. It’s 2014 they need to be shown a calendar, last I remember women were allowed to vote. If they claim it’s money then fundraise. Do it all year if you have to. And advertise your games, really rinks want you to pay for your ice and get people buying good from their canteens, get volunteers to run a 50/50 use some of the money you fundraised to start the pot at a decent amount. There’s a surprising amount of people who want hockey back to its original state. To see a game played with skill and finesse and with out beating the shit out of each other and the answer to that is female hockey. It’s getting faster and more skilled each year. And if you want people to watch and enjoy your games be the best you can be. We play hockey all year around with or without ice. I’ve coached many years, if you can only get ice twice a month then once a week you rent a gym and you practice passing with inline pucks and run all your drills in shoes. As hockey players you already know how to skate, stay in shape and sync with your team off ice and it will make a huge difference on ice. Keep on fighting for what you want and it will happen. Good luck to you!

  12. alanm4901 says:

    Well said this fat useless mouthpiece has for years forced his unwanted comments upon the uk hockey world he is a dad little man that needs to bugger off. Women in hockey is a brilliant thing there are a number of female hockey player’s here in northern Ireland that give 110% every training session and match. P

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