NOTE: Taking a brief break from NHL lessons, here's what people in and around hockey are talking about today. This is my post from my SB Nation hockey site, Raw Charge. I realize that this show is actually geared towards non-hockey fans, but as that's an even more controversial topic, I decided to play it safe and stick with the female hockey fan point of view.
The Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) announced yesterday that it would be airing a little something for those hockey widows during the Stanley Cup Final. Now, that sort of thing doesn't really affect us here in the states, but there's been a lot of outrage over the decision. This show is being described as, "Sex and the City meets ESPN, with banter "from a woman's point of view" ".
(You can visit the blog, While the Men Watch , to get an idea of what this show may be like.)
The problem isn't that this is going on. In fact, the CBC ought to be applauded for even trying to reach out to women who happen to not like sports. The real problem is that they're going about it the entirely wrong way, and it's in a way that die hard female hockey fans find offensive.
Perhaps it is the fact that being a female and a hockey fan is a novelty that makes this practice so widespread, but the greater problem here is that as a female hockey fan, a female hockey fan is defined as female first and hockey fan second. The writers of While the Men Watch perpetrate this stereotype and this is the greatest folly of their endeavor, not , as I would like to argue, the way that they watch hockey.
This type of thing can be considered the TV and/or blogging equivalent to the pink, bedazzled hockey jersey. It works for a very few women, but not the majority. So it's a good idea in theory, but a bad idea in execution.
And that's what's going on - and has been going on - here with hockey and the NHL. This isn't a singular instance of misunderstanding what women want out of the sport. It's just another poorly thought out attempt at trying to be helpful.
Sure, some women will love this - and good for them. Have at it. Enjoy. But for the rest, it's not at all what they want.
What female hockey fans want is to be treated like...well, fans. It doesn't have to be anything all that extravagant - just stuff that fits a smaller frame than men, and fits our shape, when it comes to clothing merchandise. Essentially, that's pretty much it. Don't market anything specifically for us necessarily; what works for the men pretty much works for us, too. Just let us be equals, and we'll be happy.
Marsha Boyd, an Edmonton Oilers season-ticket holder, agreed and said she has a group of female friends who love hockey just as much as the guys do.
"It’s quite insulting to anyone who’s a woman and a sports fan, as if we don’t exist or we can’t possibly enjoy hockey without looking at pretty boys," she said.
Now, I'm not outraged here. Hockey is trying to reach out; they really are. But they're not asking what female fans want first, or are even seemingly interested in their feedback. They're just making their best guess and hope it makes the majority of female fans happy. It's classic of at least NHL marketing - do something, then throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. Has no one ever heard of focus groups?
Now, I happen to do an online hockey show with my friend Su Ring, and we talk about all levels of hockey. There is no Sex and the City aspect to it at all, nor do we even want that. The female angle is perhaps just being a bit more empathetic, that's it.
In fact, we even interview hockey types about hockey. Last weekend, for instance, we interviewed former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman - now current Seattle Thunderbirds' (WHL) assistant coach - Darren Rumble. I invite you to take a listen to it, and see if you think women need this sex aspect in order to keep things interesting. You can find it at CCPT Hockey Show on BlogTalkRadio.
...And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging....