Post by Annie D.
Featured Image by tpsdave
Minnesota; also known as the state of hockey, hosts both a boys and a girls state tournament each spring. The high school state hockey tournament is a very large event celebrated in many ways. The 2015 Minnesota boys high school state hockey tournament had a total of 135,618 attendees, which breaks the previous record recorded in 2008 of 129,643. On the other hand, the minnesota girls high school hockey state tournament had an attendance of 21,365. As you can see there is a drastic fall in numbers from the boys state tournament to the girls state tournament. In addition, there is a waiting list to get tickets for the boys tournament but you can get tickets to any girls’ game during their tourney.
Usually the first thing that comes to mind when the average person hears the word “hockey” is aggressive fights and checks hard enough to break the glass. Even a non-hockey enthusiast can’t help but watch and cheer when a commotion breaks out on the ice. Never mind the person who plays hockey or follows a favorite team! On the other hand, when people hear that girls and women also play the game they have no interest in watching a slow paced, no-hitting game.
In order to make the game of girls hockey just as exciting as boys hockey they should allow the girls playing to body check. There are arguments that say females are not able to handle the hits delivered. I disagree with this statement. If we were to just teach girls how to properly deliver and receive a check it would be tolerable. In the article “Does Body Checking Belong in Girls’ Hockey?” written by Kim McCullough she talks about how coaches can teach players to play safely. In fact, the Boys Youth Hockey Association placed an emphasis on teaching and reteaching boys the proper and safe way to check. Girls could join in on the training and both sexes would be safer on the ice. Checking happens in girls hockey even though the rules state that it’s not allowed and without learning the basics of throwing a good hit; girls have a higher risk of injury.
Hockey is a great sport that teaches players not only on the ice but off the ice as well and the gender of the players should not alter the game. Title IX states that equal opportunities must exist for boys and girls in the advancement of education and that includes sports. The games are technically not the same; they do not have the same rules so how can they be equal?
Because boys have the excitement of checking in their rules, they bring in more money through gate fees than girls. Gate fees provide more money for the boys’ programs and they are afforded opportunities for new uniforms, skills trainings, camps, active wear, etc. These additional training sessions may or may not play a role in college recruitments and or scholarships. Girls rely heavily on booster clubs and fundraisers to support their programs and supplement their gear. If we want to grow girls’ hockey programs we need to add checking to their game!
Boys have the chance to play professional hockey in the NHL which provides them more money and a lavish lifestyle. The have the chance to win and dream about the Stanley Cup. Girls are basically done playing hockey after college. They can’t make a sustainable living playing hockey. Men are also able to play junior leagues around the United States. There is no in-between offerings for women.
Playing the game without checking causes girls to play hesitant, safe and less aggressive. From a young age boys are rewarded for being aggressive. Girls feel a negative stigma exists when they get a penalty and end up in the box whereas boys brag and boast about their penalties.
Image by: tpsdave
Girls are known as a dirty player when they get too many penalties but boys are labeled fighters, gods, or studs. Colleges that recruit females want aggressive players. In my opinion it is easier to teach a more aggressive player to ease up than teach a tentative player aggression. Men’s pro teams will search for fighters for their teams and enter the draft looking to fill the “enforcer” position.
Checking would not only speed up the game of girls hockey but would also add multiple opportunities in girls’ lives. If checking was included in the game it would lead to many positive outcomes. More fans would be willing to come and pay to watch the games which would bring in more funding for the girls program overall, and allow colleges more money to give scholarships to young women. In today’s society more moneys means better training and if colleges were able to access that for their players, we would have a much more talented group of women hockey players. This would overall open doors for women’s national hockey leagues and allow them to make a living off of playing a sport they love.