Saturday, December 22, 2007

I wouldn't say "kudos"

Not too long ago I mentioned briefly that Cassie Campbell was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame--the first female hockey player to "earn" that honor. I use the term earn cautiously because I am sure there were many other female hockey players before Campbell who were good enough and deserved their spot in the HoF but were never recognized because of the lack of attention the women's game receives--even in Canada. At that time I noted that the induction of the first female hockey player was long overdue.
Also long overdue, the induction of female hockey players into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Three women will be inducted this year: two Canadians, Geraldine Heaney and Angela James, and American Cammi Granato. The IIHF website is touting the induction of these three women as barrier breaking.
Hello? You set up the barriers! You never inducted women despite the fact that they have been playing since the late 1800s by some accounts. Hang your head in shame--don't try to come off as some kind of progressive organization.
Angela James has said "Kudos go to the IIHF for recognizing the women's game." Sure. The IIHF has only been around for a century. It seems to take women at least a hundred years to get some basic recognition and rights--like suffrage in the United States--that should have come a long time ago if we truly lived in the liberal (in the classical sense) society which everyone seems to think we do.
Oh, but what fun would it be or how could one feel satisified if it wasn't earned?
The IIHF president RenĂ© Fasel said, “I am immensely happy that we have reached the phase in hockey history when we rightfully can induct women to the player’s category.”
It sounds like Fasel is saying 1) it's the right thing to do, and 2) only recently have women been good enough to get it. I think the right thing to do would be to recognize that we have kept women out of physically demanding activities like ice hockey, that we still discourage their participation in such activities, and that we often force them to compensate for their success in these activities in ways which undermine the perception of their level of comittment and skill. I think it's the right thing for organizations like the IIHF to acknowledge that men who have been in positions of power have contributed to the stereotypes of women in ice hockey, have constructed barriers to their success, and are responsible for all the missing faces of female hockey players on the walls of IIHF (and other) Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

Diane said...

It's always like that--not just with Canadian hockey, but with every aspect of life. As soon as a woman or a person of color is given a position or an award that women and people of color should have gotten a century or two ago, the organization involved brags about its barrier-breaking progressive action. When she had the USTA complex named for her, Billie Jean King, bless her, scolded the sports world for its exclusion of women and other groups. That was a breath of fresh air--recipients are usually oh so grateful and nothing else.