Casually surfing around some of my favorite internet sites this morning, I headed to USA Hockey's site just to check in and see if anything interesting was going on this summer in development camps, etc. USA Hockey's home page seems to provide a range of stories about all aspects of USA Hockey from juniors to collegiate, inline leagues and I was very impressed that there was a home page story about sled hockey and the tryouts for the 2006 Paralympic Games in Turino which will take place immediately following the Olympics.
I also noticed a story on Hobey Baker winner Marty Sertich being nominated for an ESPY for Best Male College Athlete and a link directly to his category (versus having to vote in all categories) so one could, presumably, vote for him. I scrolled down some more looking for a similar story about Harvard forward Nicole Corriero who is nominated for Best Female College Athlete. Not there. I was somewhat miffed. So I clicked on the link for just girls'/women's hockey news expecting to find it there. Nope. In fact there is only one story on that page right now. The story is about the growth of women's hockey. This is a growth which, in my opinion, USA Hockey has no right to take credit for. Women's hockey has grown because cultural attitudes about girls/women in aggressive, contact sports has changed and because girls themselves have insisted on opportunities to play and forced people to take notice.
In fact, USA Hockey has let down women's hockey. Following the gold medal win in the first year women's hockey was allowed into the Olympics in 1998, USA Hockey sat on its hands and did nothing to promote the sport. Administrators should have followed the lead of USA Soccer after the women won their World Cup (and following successful Olympic berths) and promoted the hell out of women's hockey. (Granted the WUSA collapsed but it built a loyal following and I have hopes it will come back with better management.) But it didn't. It's still a fairly obscure sport at the higher levels of competition despite the growing numbers of players at the youth level. The fact that USA Hockey can't even provide equal web page attention to girls'/women's hockey does not give me much hope for building a larger fan base. I worry that with the IOC all cut-happy, women's ice hockey may be the next to go.