February 13, 2010

Women's Hockey Has Come A Long Way

Women's hockey opens it's schedule tonight. Sweden and Switzerland open the tournament at noon, PST. Canada then plays Slovakia at 5pm.

The women's gold medal game, almost certainly pitting Canada vs. USA, will sell out Canada Hockey Place and draw television ratings that will challenge men's hockey games and figure skating, the two traditional darling sports of the Winter Olympics.

The girls' game has sure come a long way. Though women playing hockey dates back in hockey history nearly as far back as men's hockey, it was not all that long ago when it was rare to see a female playing the game. Now we can count on a sold out games and big tv ratings!

To get to this point, though, women sure have had to fight a lot of sexism and ignorance, from men and the hockey establishment.

Take, for example, the following artle written by Scott Young.

Mr. Young, Neil Young's father, is a famed sports writer here in Canada. He was a long time columnist for the Globe and Mail, wrote for MacLeans and Sports Illustrated, and penned no fewer than 45 books. He was even, for a brief period of time, the host of Hockey Night In Canada.

I'm not sure when this following article was authored. It comes from a really old book, Scott Young's Sports Stories from 1965, a collection of Young's columns from the Globe and Mail.

It is amazing to see how far women's hockey has come since then. Here's the article:

Has Your Sweetie A Charley Horse?

If anyone would care to see me in a wide variety of attitudes of sheer horror, trick me into attending a girl's ice hockey game.

I wouldn't go willingly, any more than I would go willingly to watch lions eat Christians. In fact, wild horses couldn't drag me. The last time wild horses tried to drag me to a girls' hockey game I dragged them in the opposite direction with such violence that their braced forelegs became badly worn down, and they had to give up wild-horsing and take jobs as kangaroos.

Since then, I have made an unsuccessful career of attempting to ignore girls' hockey. When girls telephone to ask where they can find a team that might give them a tryout, I advise they take up judo, or boys, or something worth while. Do they want to wind up looking like lady Leo Labines, or something?

However, I have recent evidence that not enough people shudder at the thought of girls playing this game. There are teams in Don Mills, Scarborough, and other more distant outposts of emprie such as Whitby, Peterborough and Alliston. Alliston even goes so far as to hold an all-girls' hockey tournament.

The trouble is, I am assured, that not all of these girls look like Lou Fontinato - yet. (Joe's note - ouch! That is just plain mean.) In the natural course of events, therefore, outside of dressing room doors in rinks throughout the province almost every night, young men await their girl gladiators.

Conversation: "If that doll of yours high sticks mine once more in the corner, buster, for shame!"

"For shame, yourself! And the same to your bodyguard, if that's what she is."

How do you I know so much about it? Once it was my terrifying duty to cover a girls' hockey league, for the Winnipeg Free Press. I had to go you, you understand, or they wouldn't give me that big sixteen dollars every week. So I went.

Some of the girls were built like brick outhouses. I didn't mind them. But some were not - and I did mind them. one of the prettiest girls I ever saw anywhere in those days played for a team from the University of Manitoba. Her name was Grace Harling, and she looked, and was constructed, like a movie ingenue - dark smooth hair parted in the middle and hanging softly to her shoulders, slim legs, and an infinitely appealing figure. Some big beast on defence would belt her one and she'd go up in the air and fall flat on her back, and they'd have to hold me down in the press box or I would have blown up the rink.

There came a happy day, eventually, when someone even more junior than I was brought into our sports department. When the sports editor broke the news to me and asked which of my many jobs we should bestow upon this new man, I was on my way to the rink to cover a girls' hockey game.

Immediately, I gave the new man my car tickets. I haven't seen a girl play hockey since, and never will.

It is in this light that I appeal to the citizens of Alliston to strike a blow for femininity and all plan to be out of town this year when the annual all girls' tournament is held.

Further, I appeal to everyone who enjoys watching a pretty girls trip daintily down the street - how would she look, with a charley horse?

Meanwhile, I feel extremely sorry for any young man who fell for some sweet young thing in a bathing suit only to find, with the snows, that she plays right wing and kills penalties three times a week all winter.

Can't you imagine the ride home he has, after each game? Tenderly stroking his young lady's new stitches while she murmurs disconsolately into this ear that should have shot, instead of trying to deke that blonde cat of a goalkeeper?

And what does he give here for Valentine's Day, anyway - a plexiglass chest protector.

I have only two words for Young's sexist diatribe - for shame!

Scott Young died back in 2005. He lived long enough to witness women's hockey emerge into what it is today. I suspect he did not keep his promise of this article, and did indeed watch another girls' hockey game, probably at the 1998 and 2002 Olympics.

I would be curious to know if he ever wrote another article about the women's game once it became an official Olympic sport!

BallHype: hype it up!

No comments: