Obviously I was going to use a Veruca Salt reference. Sometimes this is easy for you to predict.
I’m a little late to the party on this, but I wanted to address it badly. Last week, Red Eye ran a piece about the Hawks and their relationship with their female fans. It included a anecdote about Casey Rathunde, you can follow her on Twitter @Raedances and you should because she’s my new personal hero for asking a tough question at the convention, asking the Hawks’ brass about the Ice Crew and other things related to their treatment of women and their female fans. Of course they gave it the boiler-plate, brush-off answer, which is what we should have expected. Probably would have gotten the same thing if anyone had asked about the continual shitty ice surface.
There’s obviously a lot of talk about women in sports, women as fans, and how they’re treated by the sports leagues. I’m going to do my best to not link this to the Ray Rice stuff, because that’s a topic that needs no debate and is just a disgusting event that everyone involved should be ashamed of (and some should be in jail, but I won’t be sitting on a hot stove waiting for that one).
The first thing about the Ice Crew is that as we’ve repeatedly said here they’re a symbol of total Hawks hypocrisy. Susannah Collins was fired for previous, somewhat raunchy work that the Hawks deemed wasn’t a fit with their image. And yet here comes the Ice Crew in those outfits that clearly aren’t meant to do anything other than please male fans. If they were the best conditioned for the actual job of scraping the ice, and I don’t know if they are or not, there really is no good reason they couldn’t just wear what the guys who do the same job wear. We clearly know what they’re there for, or at least what they’re dressed for.
I don’t know where this issue would lie if they were simply a promotional squad. Not cheerleaders per se, but just there at every road watch, promotional event inside and outside the stadium, and whatever else. Maybe it changes it a little, though I tend to doubt it. Certainly they wouldn’t be the first organization to use a gaggle of attractive women to help promote some event. Radio stations have been doing it for years. So have beer companies, and liquor companies. I guess I could go on and on.
There difference there is it’s a separate event. And they’re there to draw a crowd, which they do. You can think it’s sad that the idea of the Ice Crew appearing somewhere would cause a few fellas to go to whatever bar they are appearing at, and I’d like to believe that would never happen. But I’d like to believe a lot of things. Those events are also probably designed to draw in men, at least some are, whereas Hawks games are meant to draw in everyone.
The problem with the Ice Crew on the ice is that’s something people have paid to be at to watch something completely different. It’s as if the Hawks have told whatever percentage women make up the normal UC crowd, “Hey, we’ve got your money now, so we don’t really give a shit what you think now that we have it. We’ll do this now.” At least that’s how it sounds in my head.
However, it’s a more nuanced situation about marketing the game to your female fanbase and looking like you don’t care at all. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as some have made it out to be. Most female Hawks fans I know, and I know quite a few (even date one), just want to be treated like fans. They don’t want pink jerseys, they don’t want the game explained to them in some elementary way (and let’s face it, there are probably just as many male fans who need the game explained to them just as heavily), they don’t want a bunch of puff pieces about how good looking these players are instead of what they do on the ice and for the team (well, maybe the occasional one is ok). They just want to watch the game and have a few beers like the rest of us, or so I gather.
If the Hawks ran something like a “Ladies Night,” I’m guessing most female Hawks fans would find that insulting. Sure, it might be great for those who are a little intimidated coming to what is perceived as a male-dominated arena to be introduced to the fandom we love so dear. But it might smack of pandering.
What the Hawks should realize is that the Ice Crew, and trotting out whatever woman in the 100 Level that’s in the biggest heels for the shoot the puck, is basically a slap in the face to their most dedicated female fans. It doesn’t show a whole lot of awareness. At best it’s ignorant, at worst it’s a smugness in that they can get away with just about anything because they’re selling out the building.
The Hawks don’t have to cater to their female fanbase. They just have to not wave their figurative member in its face on occasion.
-As you know, I hate putting personal stuff on the blog, so you’ll just have to allow me this. There is simply no adjective I can come up with to express how thankful I am to all of you who have reached out this past week to send me your thoughts and care. There are so many I have no hope of responding to them all. I hope you’ll understand if I don’t get back to you, but know I saw them all and every single one helped in its way. I guess all I can say is thank you, but that hardly seems like enough. I know at times we the writers here have sparred with our readers, but it’s moments like this that make me realize how much I love and appreciate this community we have here. It means just as much to me as it does to you, if not more. Again, thank you.