I really wanted to start this out on a positive note, but as usual, the internet had different plans. Shocking, right? I was so excited to come and talk about all the new female faces on voices we are seeing this year during hockey broadcasts. I still will but first I feel it’s important to address a story that crossed my timeline today. Especially on the heels of the recent Kyle Beach interview about the harassment and abuse, he faced in his NHL playing days.
Over the last year, I have worked on and off in a local ice arena and I would say I’m surprised but I’m really not. I will give my rink their props, however, because when they closed this summer for major renovations they made sure that there would be a dedicated ladies locker room from now on. The days of opening up the conference room and putting a sign on the door to notify someone that they were getting dressed or for them to use the women’s restroom are gone at least one small rink in suburban Detroit.
The most disappointing part of this story is however is that not one adult in that entire barn had the balls to stop these chants. Not a parent. Not a coach. Not a ref. Not an employee. Not one. Or they certainly didn’t try hard enough. I guarantee this girl already feels somewhat singled out being the only one on her team and to top it off by not feeling protected by the adults around her is a sure-fire way to kill whatever love she has for the sport. Abuse in any form has lasting impacts and I hope she is able to find some strength and inspiration however in some of the women who have stepped into broadcasting roles in the NHL this year.
On a much more positive note, imagine my delight recently when I turned on the Red Wings Pre-Game show and there was a woman on the desk? Huzzah. If the young lady involved in this incident doesn’t already know about Manon, she need look no further. Born into a hockey family she was the first female to ever play in the NHL when she signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992. She would go on to play for six years in the minors as well as notching a Silver Medal with the Canadian Women’s team in 1998 and was named best goaltender when Canada won Worlds in 1992 and 1994. In addition to her new role on the desk for Bally Sports, she coaches locally now in the Detroit Area for a U-12 girls team in the Little Ceasers League. And maybe she’ll even help me with my French as well one day?
The ESPN Team
If you didn’t already know, ESPN finally has rights to NHL games again for the first time in 17 years and that naturally brings with it some new faces and voices. In addition to mainstays like John Buccigross as well as others, they’ve named Leah Hextall, Cassie Campbell-Pascal, Hilary Knight, and A.J. Mleczko to their play by play and color commentary rosters. In addition to that list, longtime broadcaster Linda Cohn and NHL Insider Emily Kaplan have also started releasing their own Podcast called In The Crease.
Are these small changes? Yes. But are they changes nonetheless? Yes.
I can only speak for myself for the most part but I know I am getting sick of feeling like all I am seeing and then writing about is frustrating and disheartening stories involving women. Especially when it comes to sports. But if we don’t talk about problems and address them in the moment there won’t even be opportunities for advancement. No matter how small. Can we please start doing better for our girls and women in sports? Because I’m sick of being a downer and I would so much rather go back to being the Tina Belcher of The Turf and making jokes about juicy booties. Not that I would ever objectify a male athlete like that though.
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