There it was, in all its half empty seating poor grainy footage glory, a Canadian National Women’s Team full line ‘brawl’ with their cross border rival Americans. In my entire life I believe this was the longest Women’s Hockey video clip I have ever seen on a National News Cast or even National Sports Network. Did they show the winning goal? Nope. Did they correctly pronounce the names of individuals involved? Nope. Did they glorify the violence to feed the hunger of the Instant Gratification Generation? You bet they did.
So what is the next move? Well you use those images to try and draw in viewers to a Prime Time airing of the return match less than a week later, on the highest rated Sports Network in the Country. As pleased as I was to have a chance to sit with my Daughter to watch her heroes play the sport she loves so dearly, part of me felt disgusted as to how it was being sold to the masses.
For all the wonderful things Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford have done for Canadian Women’s Hockey and Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel have done for our American Counterparts, and all four (not to mention the rest of both teams) have done for The Game Globally, it was disrespectful to reduce the exposure of their passion and performance to primitive mayhem, and then sell it as such.
I can certainly understand the shock value of the images that quickly became a news and internet sensation, but I cannot comprehend the mindset of using it as a promotional tool for future viewership. It was not a highlight of the game, it was a low light, what was missed was the pure skill and passion of all the minutes that preceded it. It happened and there is no excusing that, but it is not how the game is played, not how it is taught, nor should it be how it is portrayed.
The use of it in marketing is a knee jerk reaction to an inability and resistance to expose the Women’s Game properly. My first suggestion would be to start asking the Women themselves, as a whole the NWT, and even the CWHL is full of personable characters and inspiring individuals that would be more than willing to rise to the challenge of promoting their sport. They live it and breathe it, and are always willing to share stories and experiences, and they are some of the best teachers in all of Hockey current day.
The explosion in girl’s hockey enrolment continues year over year, and it has been doing so without mainstream prompting and exposure, so if we are going to promote it openly let’s do it right and for the right reasons. Sex and violence are used to try and sell too many things already; neither will work for this beautiful game and so it shouldn’t.
I would never defend fighting in hockey or any other sport, but I will defend teammates whose Honor and Respect for each other and their deep competitive nature, drive them to perform at higher levels, and occasionally that drive will turn frustration into overt aggression. The fight will not define the game, it will not impact the outcome, but moving past it will determine their resolve and their passion to be the best in the World, and that is what’s worth promoting.
So to the Women of both National Teams, and to the countless Women and Girls around the world who have worked to make this game their own, keep doing what you’re doing because you’re doing it right.