Sexism and the All-Star Fantasy Draft

Danny Gray
January 27 2012 08:03AM

 

Dreams really do come true.

Last night the NHL held the All-Star Fantasy Draft for the second time. While it gives adult fans an opportunity to play Statler and Waldorf on Twitter after each pick, it is really meant for the children. As last year’s Guardian Project demonstrated, the NHL sees the All-Star game as an opportunity to sell the game to its younger fans.  The Fantasy Draft sent a very sexist message to those kids last night.

Young fans, boys and girls alike, tune into the draft to see their favourite players and which team they get drafted to. James Duthie specifically mentioned that the idea behind the draft is to evoke the memories of when the players were young, “tossing sticks into the middle, choosing Captains, and picking teams.” Kids watching at home can imagine themselves up on stage being drafted and putting on an All-Star sweater. Well the boys can. If you’re a young female hockey fan your options for daydreaming are slightly more limited. You can imagine yourself on-stage, dressed in tights and heels silently handing each player their sweater.

There were exactly three women visibly involved in the Fantasy Draft: the two aforementioned sweater shuttles, and Alyonka Larionov. Alyonka was relegated backstage to read off tweets that the Athletes were sending during the draft.

Being a man I’m obviously not the most qualified to speak on these things. And I don’t presume to speak for an entire gender, but what I saw last night bothered me. Female hockey fans have it tough. Their opinions are often marginalized due to their gender and the assumption that they are “Puck Bunnies” who only follow the sport because they have a crush on every player.

Watching last night’s coverage of the draft suggested that TSN feels the same way. While it may not have been TSN’s intention to use Alyonka solely as “eye candy” a quick scan of her mentions on Twitter show that many male viewers did.

 

 

 

 

Fantastic stuff there. 

This may not bother you; it may not even bother Alyonka Larionov. Adults can decide for themselves what they find offensive or objectionable. Children cannot. To the boys and girls watching at home last night the NHL sent a very strong message: female hockey fans and their opinions are not to be taken seriously. Female hockey analysts and reporters are under-represented in the MSM. There are many excellent female bloggers who are passionate about the game and offer insightful commentary. They have no representaton on nights like this. I don't think that's right. 

What's worse is that girls watching at home dreaming of playing in the All-Star game one day were given two choices for when they grow up: handing out sweaters or reading tweets. 

 

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Danny once met Doug Gilmour and it changed his life. Had he met Bret Hart the same day he would not have been able to handle it. He can be found on Twitter @ACatNamedFelix.
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#101 daoust
January 27 2012, 08:22PM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Absolutely but they could let them know they can at least be fans and more than eye candy (in this case).

Either I've had too much wine or you have. But I don't know what you're talking about here. How does a couple of girls handing out sweaters to players say "Girls can't be fans"?

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#102 Terry
January 27 2012, 09:36PM
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I thought exactly this as i watched the draft live.

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#103 Alex
January 27 2012, 10:29PM
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"What's worse is that girls watching at home dreaming of playing in the All-Star game one day were given two choices for when they grow up: handing out sweaters or reading tweets."

As well, Danny, I dunno if we have to afraid to state facts, but the NHL is a men's league. The best female hockey athlete of all time in Haley Wickenheiser couldn't hack 3rd division Finnish league men's hockey. Physically, a top male athlete is always going to be faster and stronger than a top female athlete. If we have become too politically correct to acknowledge this basic truth, you really need to step down from your pedestal. We aren't all the same, let's stop pretending we are. We just have to be happy in our own skin.

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#104 Alex
January 27 2012, 10:31PM
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"What's worse is that girls watching at home dreaming of playing in the All-Star game one day were given two choices for when they grow up: handing out sweaters or reading tweets."

LOL. I think the fact that there are no female All Stars delivered this message plain and clear already.

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#105 Pension Plan Puppets
January 27 2012, 11:35PM
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daoust wrote:

Either I've had too much wine or you have. But I don't know what you're talking about here. How does a couple of girls handing out sweaters to players say "Girls can't be fans"?

Just reminded me of a post ninjagreg shared about how unwelcoming women can find the gaming world because of the portrayal of women as one dimensional (ie always sexpot characters) or the larger community where they're never really seen to be on equal footing.

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#106 Pension Plan Puppets
January 27 2012, 11:36PM
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@Alex

I think you're missing the point. It's not whether women can play in the NHL (a woman could if she was good enough) but that in the entire production the women were relegated to the bottom of the barrel interaction (reading tweets) or used as eye candy to pass out the sweaters.

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#107 Alex
January 28 2012, 09:59AM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

I think you're missing the point. It's not whether women can play in the NHL (a woman could if she was good enough) but that in the entire production the women were relegated to the bottom of the barrel interaction (reading tweets) or used as eye candy to pass out the sweaters.

There's a ton of female Sports Center or Connected anchors. Larionov was reading tweets because she's new.

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#108 Tom Holder
January 28 2012, 11:33AM
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Well said. My 9 year old daughter has set her goal of playing in the NHL someday. Sure it's a dream but, as dreams go, it's a great one and who is the NHL to dissuade her? I like good looking women too - heck my wife's one - but you are absolutely right. Hey why not pick some minor hockey kids to hand out the jerseys? Could you imagine the PR coup?

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#109 Suzie
January 28 2012, 01:00PM
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Aside from everything, just how TALL was that girl handing the jerseys to team Alfredsson? Whens he moved closer she looked a good couple of inches taller than Alfie & Karlsson!

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#110 Josie
January 28 2012, 01:10PM
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I appreciate this article and the point it's making. Being a female is tough. You can't be a fan that knows everything without being picked on for knowing too much of a "mans sport." There is a fine line between what you can and can't enjoy at a game... It's all very frustrating.

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