Monday, August 08, 2011's cold in here...

...there must be some sexism in the atmosphere.

I think I perhaps knew something about scantily clad young women (note that they are always referred to as girls) on ice skates who come out during NHL games for various reasons. But I don't watch much professional hockey anymore opting to engage in slightly less cognitive dissonance by watching intercollegiate hockey. So I guess I chose not to think about how hockey--like so many other sports these days--is bringing out the babes to arouse the crowd--and shovel some ice chips.
This article with accompanying video--which is mandatory viewing because the article so doesn't tell the whole story--is about the tryouts the Penguins held recently for the 2011-12 Ice Crew.
Tell me--what do you envision when someone says ice crew in the context of professional hockey. I think mostly men--college age dudes and/or older guys with bellies--shuffling out on the ice in their black sneakers, khakis, and nylon team jackets during the period breaks to take the nets off their posts as the zamboni goes round and round. Then they shovel the ice remnants into the tunnel. And then if there's an ice emergency, they shuffle a little faster out on the ice with buckets of water and various small hand tools to fix large chips or other ice deformities.
I do not think of 20-something women in tight spandex-y pants or short, short skirts and midriff tops, tummies tanned, large smiles on their faces, skating round and round--and then shoveling some ice.
But this is what the Ice Crew for the Penguins is. And it's a highly prized job. Over 50 women tried out this year. Only seven make the crew.
And it's a really hard job. Just listen to one of the women who made the crew who feels "truly blessed" to be on the other side of tryouts which were:
"so nerve-wracking. You're thinking about technique and the words you say, how you portray yourself, and posture. It's a lot to think about."
Lest one thinks this is all about looks--it's not. These women have to go out into the "community." They are hired out for events. Not sure what kind of events. So the words they say are important. Also, they are tested on their ice sweeping skills during tryouts. So maintaining good posture while moving that broom around the cones could indeed be nerve-wracking.
There's just so much going on here.

Let me point out that if you're trying to find out the exact purpose of the ice crew--most often referred to as "ice girls"--you will hard pressed to do so. It seems that most NHL teams have them these days. But I can't seem to find a list of duties or required skills. Some history about the the position and how it came to be? Good luck. You have to wade through pages of search results that are all about showing you their cleavage, their legs, their asses, their tan bellies, how "hot" they look holding shovels, and how they never stop smiling.
They have been equated with cheerleaders. These women must be far more skilled though. Because they have to arouse the crowd without the choreographed dance routines and without ever saying a word. How DO they do it?


JP45 said...

I suppose there's nothing inherently sexist about the phrase "college age dudes and/or older guys with bellies". Speaking as a man who supports women's athletics (and has done so with more than just lip service), I see nothing wrong with having dance teams or cheerleaders for the overwhelmingly male audiences who enjoy such things. Personally, my preference is the increasing trend of attractive young women down the foul lines at MLB parks. They're generally good fielders (softball players, perhaps), and I like the baseball uniforms more than the spandex-y look.

Anonymous said...

"I see nothing wrong with having dance teams or cheerleaders for the overwhelmingly male audience who enjoy such things."

Do you also see nothing wrong with calling cheerleaders "things"?

ken said...

There's nothing inherently sexist in anything because sexism is a construct--there's nothing inherent in it.
Calling someone a dude isn't sexist. And older guys with bellies have not experienced historical and systemic discrimination based on either their gender or their bellies.

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blah, all I hear is "I never made the cheerleading team" Why not support your fellow woman instead of bashing her for wanting to do something while she still has the youth and the atheletic ability to pull it off? Becasue while you may waddle to and from your mailbox, these girls are up everyday at 6 working out then doing a full day of work or school, THEN work for the Penguins. WHo the f*ck are any of you to judge them? You're hypocrites. All of you.