I seriously can't believe I have a post with a title as ridiculous as this one. I also can't believe that this is even a discussion. I didn't anticipate for this type of issue to surface in my beloved sport, and I despise the fact that our world is getting overly PC. Here's the scoop: Meet Adam Proteau, a contributing writer to one of my favorite sites, The Hockey News. He has recently begun a crusade against the idea of females, specifically the Ice Girls, showing off their midriffs (or seemingly any skin below the chin) on the ice. Here is a link to his original post about this.
First let's talk about the good. I respect and appreciate the fact that Proteau took the time to ask his female Twitter followers how the NHL could better engage them as fans. He claimed that there were, "five common answers, including: hire more women in hockey positions (and hockey media), better sizing options for women’s jerseys and merchandise, a de-emphasizing of the color pink (or at least more non-pink jersey choices), the elimination of ice girls, and the key answer – don’t market specifically to women, and don’t do anything to make them feel like “The Other.”"
While I think a lot of the feedback is true (in fact I agree on some of the points!), I am curious to know the credibility of this data. How many females actually responded? How many of these responders actually attend games? What is the percentage allocated per suggestion? I realize this sounds nit-picky, but to take data seriously, you have to analyze it seriously, especially if it's going to determine any kind of business strategy.
But moving past this point, and onto the main one. The Ice Girls.
He seems to be coming from a sexually objectifying angle, saying "We ask them work for next to no money in frigid arenas with their shoulders, midsection and/or legs exposed. We ask them to objectify themselves – to be ogled and leered at by strangers – and never stop smiling. We ask them to reduce their contributions so that they’re little more than eye candy."
Oh. The horror. (Sarcasm)
Let's remember that these are women who sign up, and audition to do this because they :::gasp:::: want to! A lot of these girls are (rightfully) proud to wear these uniforms, as it gives them the opportunity to sport their team colors, while rocking a cute uni that shows off the body they have worked their tails off for! And the "never stop smiling" piece made me laugh - how is a frowning (or "resting bitch faced") Ice Girl good for business? I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to see someone smiling, and simply expressing themselves positively. Which is exactly what these girls choose to be a part of and do.
What really bothered me was this statement: "Nobody leaves a game and says, “The best part of the night didn’t have anything to do with the action on the ice – it was when that cheerleader jumped up and down in co-ordination with other cheerleaders and said something positive about the team!”" The Ice Girls aren't meant to be the main attraction, so why would one ever expect hear someone say that they were the best part? This also made what they do sound trivial. For very little financial compensation, these chicks help generate crowd interaction, on and off the ice. They show up and participate in community events. These girls dedicate themselves to this part time job, often while balancing school/other jobs. And I think it's awesome.
And for the record, I'd love to see Proteau attempt some of the moves these girls do, especially the coordinated jumping up and down bit he referred to... except that would probably make my eyes bleed.
On top of all that, Proteau suggested, "In late July, the Florida Panthers – a team that has struggled to attract fans – announced they’d be discontinuing their “Lady Panthers” cheerleaders. Good for them. If they don’t need scantily clad women to sell tickets, no team does."
Whoah whoah whoah. Since when should any NHL franchise base their marketing decisions on the Panthers' - you know, the franchise that is losing close to $30 million dollars per year!? Um hello, they probably got rid of the Ice Girls because THEY'RE BROKE. And they probably put a lovely little PR spin on it out of desperation.
Then Proteau releases another post. The gist of it is that the Flyers took away their Ice Girls after Proteau's first post, then came to their senses (with the help of their vocal fan base) and brought them back. It's not often I'll say something good about the Flyers franchise, but they did a solid job at listening to what their fans wanted. Naturally, Proteau is having a hissy fit. He went on yet feminist rampage. To the point of even saying things like...
"More importantly, do the Flyers actually believe fans will stop coming to games if they didn’t have women displaying their thighs, stomachs and shoulders like dehumanized meat products on the ice?"
Gosh Adam Proteau... is that how YOU look at them?
How about this... if knees, stomachs and belly buttons are that sexually objectifying, then maybe YOU should change the way you look at a woman instead of trying to take down a piece of NHL hockey that is positive and fun that both men and women appreciate.