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.