Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Like I didn't see this criticism coming...

...from about an Olympic ice rink length away. I missed but definitely heard about Canada's 18-0 win over Slovakia. I saw the US's 12-1 win over China. I watched most of Canada's 10-1 win over Switzerland.
And then I saw all the critiques. (And there were indeed more than three.)
It is indeed worrisome given that the IOC nixed softball from the Olympic roster because of lack of international worthiness. (Though that seemed to become the official rationale there was all that curious wrangling that is alleged to have happened over whether baseball and softball were the same sport.)
And if I were an elite female ski jumper right now seeing these scores, I would be miffed that the IOC hadn't even considered my sport because of alleged international shallowness.
But the delve into Olympic hockey's history is important. The men's scores in the early years of the game--even worse. And the women's game needs to overcome even more: namely the sexism and intersecting homophobia in most countries that are men's hockey powerhouses.
China only has 200 registered female hockey players but they have that Cold War mentality that the former Soviet Union and the US had: we need medals and if we have to let women play sports that might call into question their femininity, then so be it. And they have a history of intense devotion to training elite athletes from childhood.
And it was kind of offensive when Jeff Passan suggested that the Americans with 6-0 foot Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej were just pushing around the Chinese women, as represented by 5-2 Linuo Wang. It was probably most offensive to American teammate Erica Lawler who is only 5-0 and has made quite a showing at the games already.
The Canadian team is also under fire for running up the score against Slovakia. Well they are under fire for being unapologetic about it. Coach Melody Davidson (who is an unapologetically butch presence on the Canadian bench, which is a post for another time) has announced they will not let up against any team, much to the dismay of--well--everyone it seems. This, of course, brings up the debate about playing hard versus embarrassing the losing team by letting up. And then there is the whole gendered aspect of it.
But hang on, haters. The medal rounds will be better.

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