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Opinion

Women’s hockey deserves more credit, more fans

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November 18, 2010

A couple weekends ago I went to the first women’s hockey exhibition game at Hunt Arena. The game was a great: it was intense, enthusiastic and most of all, spectacular hockey. The Falcons pulled out a win with the final score being 4-2.  It was a very entertaining hockey game to say the least. The only thing missing were the fans.

The women’s hockey team has done remarkably well over the past few seasons. Last season, they were one game away from making it to nationals again but lost in a heart-breaking third period. I expect nothing less exciting from them this year. From what I saw in their game against Canada, they have some strong leadership and undeniable talent, just like in recent years. In past years, there has been a larger number of fans, and that is why I was disappointed to see the outcome on their very first exhibition game.

The men’s team had their first game on Oct. 23, and it was a blowout: they beat Concordia,  8-1. I’m not taking away from the men’s team. The game great, but the only difference was the amount of fans was obviously more then the women’s game.

Why is this?

Is it due to the masculinity of the sport? Or the fact that women’s hockey players are not technically allowed to body check?

I talked with Minnesota USA Master Level Certified Hockey Coach, Jacob Mars. He said he thinks the main reason for the fan difference is the “lack of legal body checking.”

Does this mean that finesse and skill make a sporting game boring?

Mars and I went deeper into why women’s hockey does not allow body checking.

“Due to the physical make up of a woman’s body, it’s much more difficult for females to safely body check. If a woman is hit wrong, it can harm their reproductive system and could not allow them to produce children.”

But couldn’t the same happen to men? Shouldn’t the possibility of risk be assumed across all sports?

Mars said he isn’t surprised that women’s hockey in River Falls doesn’t get a lot of fans because even the Olympic Committee is considering pulling women’s hockey from the Olympics all together.

Hearing this news really saddened me — because being a youth and high school hockey player myself — it was and always will be the Olympic event I look forward to the most.

“Sadly, it is seen that women’s sports are lesser equal then men’s,” Mars said.

Unfortunately, I believe he is right.

Not only is this obvious gap in fans seen in hockey but in all women’s sports when being compared to men’s. I think the only way we can attempt to fight this inequality is to start supporting and increasing our fan base at women’s sporting events, starting with the River Falls women’s hockey team this winter. I have much confidence that this hockey season will be an exciting one, so I encourage everyone to come out and support not only our hockey team, but also all of our women’s sports.

Good luck ladies!

Sarah Hellier is a student at UW-River Falls.