September 21, 2012

Barefoot and in the kitchen making sandwiches

Why women cannot accept an NHL lockout
Who can forget the great lockout of 2004-2005? It was our first winter in the isolated countryside, and hubby took up bread making while listening to CBC Radio to dull the pain.

After that lockout, I vowed: Never again – even if it means temporarily relocating to the American South, where hockey is unpopular, to help hubby forget.

What do the women of Canada need to do to fix this impasse? I say we appeal to Mr. Bettman’s wife, Shelli, to work her magic. Couldn’t she leave a few glossy brochures promoting the benefits of early retirement on her hubby’s night table?

No more neck rubs, Gary, until you reach a settlement with the NHL Players’ Association. And Costco chicken and bagged salad will remain on the rotating dinner menu until I see a centre ice face-off.
There is just so much wrong about this, that I almost don't even know where to start.

I can deal with the stereotyping - sort of - but I think my biggest problem is that it's in a national Canadian newspaper. That some editor somewhere decided that it was a good idea to run it. I mean, this is blog fodder, not newspaper fodder.

If it were on a blog, it would annoy me, but it would hardly piss me off. The fact that this is on a newspaper site pisses me off. It's hard enough to be taken seriously as a woman writing about a sport, but then you see something like this...?

It reinforces the stereotype that women are just into sports for the men. That we only watch it because we think the guys are hot. And that we only write about it so we can get close enough to hit on the atheletes. That the entire goal of being a sports "fan" is to date and/or marry some athlete.

And do you know where that stereotype comes from? Men. Because, if the tables were turned, men would only write about women's sports to do exactly that - to watch and pickup on the hot women. If women were truly sports fans, then they'd stick to following sports teams of their own gender - like guys do - right?

Now, there are a number of women who do target athletes, so the stereotype does hold some validity. But those women are a small minority. And, let's be honest, they're not going to take the sport itself seriously, so they're not going to take the time to spend quality time writing about games or statistics or labor negotiations.

Sort of makes me wonder how many athletes actually date or marry women who are serious sports fans, now that I'm thinking about it. Sports fans in their own right, I mean. Not ones who converted to being sports fans when they met the athlete. I would guess probably not very many.

Athletes don't often meet real fans outside of doing the fan thing since they're in a little bubble of their own. If you're a celebrity, you tend to only meet celebrities. The circles that they run in are entirely different from the ones regular people do is all.

Regardless, reinforcing this stereotype makes life very difficult for the competent women in journalism. And it's also likely why there are so few women in sports journalism, since most true female sports fans will often go to great lengths to avoid looking like they're out to pick up on the athletes. This simple fact is what limits many women who love sports from working in a field that's dominated by men.

When I was at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, NC, I was one of probably 15 women that I saw in the press corps - out of over 450 journalists. Now, I'm not at all easily intimidated, so I was totally comfortable doing the media thing. But I know that most women would've probably avoided it, unless they were a spectator.

I'm not one of those people who gets offended by stereotypes. My whole job (literally) is about generalization, so I'm okay with that. But this sort of thing limits some good talent and prevents many women from enjoying sports in the same fashion as men.

But I guess that's what discrimination is all about, right? Being exclusive? And you know, many men are intimidated by women who know sports. So maybe that's the point, after all.

Playing hockey in Sweden is now officially fair game

Lundqvist, Eriksson and other locked out NHL stars now free to flock to Swedish Elite League
Previously, the Swedish Elite League (SEL) was the only top European league that wasn't permitting NHL players to sign with its teams. The country's second-tier league, Allsvenskan, lifted its ban in early September; Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings was one of the players that opted to sign there.

Could there be an appeal? Perhaps. But the Swedish Elite League teams are already snatching up NHL players, hours after the ruling.

Modo announced that it had signed Alex Steen of the St. Louis Blues; there's talk that Tobias Enström of the Winnipeg Jets could be next.
Modo is in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden - which is quite a bit north of Stockholm, for those that aren't familiar with Swedish geography. Markus Naslund, formerly of the Vancouver Canucks (among other teams) is the general manager. And Peter Forsberg, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche (among other teams) is an assistant general manager.

I could never really get behind a KHL team, I have to admit. But the Elitserien and Modo? Sign me up.

During the last lockout, that's the team that I followed: Modo. So I became fairly decent at reading Swedish because of that. I can't speak a word of it, but I used to be able to at least get the gist of a hockey article in the language.

I'm sure Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning will sign there, since Ornskoldsvik is his hometown. So there will be at least one Lightning connection for me to justify to others why I follow that team. Though, in reality, it's more about Naslund and Forsberg for me than Hedman. I like Hedman, don't get me wrong, but still.

As a side note about the lockout, I think that if the players' union wants to send a serious message to the NHL owners, they'd do what Alexander Ovechkin has threatened to do recently - finish out the season in another league. The NHL isn't the only hockey league to play in, after all. And the owners, if they genuinely realized that, may finally realize that locking out players every labor negotiation might be a bad idea - because the players just might choose to not come back.