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Women’s Hockey: Living in the Shadows

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On February 6, 2022, Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star wrote a strong article entailing why women’s hockey does not belong in the Olympics. DiManno quickly labelled herself, in my opinion, as the pinnacle of everything wrong in the hockey community when it comes to women showcasing their talents and the coverage they earn and deserve on a national stage like the Olympics. Writing such an article has gotten tremendous amounts of backlash from the entire hockey community on Twitter, with people sending out some harsh reactions, including an opinion that DiManno doesn’t belong in journalism.

As more international tournaments occur, it seems that there is less and less coverage for our star women athletes because of how little time they spend on the ice, practicing, or getting geared up for the next season. With women hardly being televised as it is, we need to start sharing the spotlight with the equally talented women who represent our country on the national stage.

Where It Started

In 2014, the first-ever international women’s sledge hockey tournament was held in Brampton, Ontario where teams from Canada, the United States of America, and Europe were set to face off against each other in the round-robin. Since then, there has not been another tournament for the women’s teams. Women’s sledge hockey has huge potential to be popular around the world, however that light seems to have fizzled because there have been no additions to the Paralympics for the women’s sledge hockey team. How does this relate to women athletes covered in sports, you may ask? Men have been playing a variation of sledge hockey since 1976 and had it introduced into the Olympics in 1994.

How It’s Progressed

According to a study conducted by Purdue University in 2019, coverage of women athletes in news broadcasts and highlight shows, including SportsCentre, totalled a disappointing 5.4% of ALL air time, which is only a slight increase from 5.0% in 1989 and 5.1% in 1993. This umbrella’s over every sport, not just hockey. If the Women’s World Cup (FIFA) was removed from the air, the total air time would go down to a measly 3.5%. These statistics are incredibly disappointing, not only to the women who are involved in the sports scene but to all the young women and girls who aspire to one day be amazing athletes and have their talents showcased.

The only time someone recognizes the name of any woman athlete is when they do a quick Google search to check out a roster for the upcoming tournaments, or to check out top prospects. Any other time, an NHL player is recognized just by the team they are associated with. If we can have the same standard for men as we do with women in the hockey community, we would be ten steps further into the future.

In Conclusion

Saying we should take away the opportunity from these women to showcase their talent in the international spotlight once every four years at the Winter Olympics is the wrong approach. There are young women and girls who look up to these women athletes and aspire to be them one day. Inspiration drives more young girls to follow their dreams of becoming an Olympian or playing a sport that the majority of Canadians love: hockey. These women deserve to be there just as much as the men do, if not more.

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