Posted by: Ethan Johnson | August 27, 2010

World Hockey Summit: Final Comments

Well, not “final” like I’ll never write another word about women’s hockey ever again, but final for today, how’s that? Anyway.


The message was unanimous in many ways and on many levels. The women’s game needs funding, needs development, and first and foremost, needs respect. “There is still a perception in many parts of the world that hockey isn’t for women, that women are best seen not heard, that they should be barefoot and pregnant,” [Canadian coach Mel] Davidson said. “And these are views I heard last month in Vierumaki [Finland].”

[Peter] Elander echoed these sentiments by pointing to the obvious: “We have to treat boys and girls the same at the grassroots level. Rule number one — hockey is not based on gender.”

This is why I applaud the NHL and their “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign.

This is also why I affirm and re-affirm my mission at intervals: To encourage, inspire, and empower the heroes of tomorrow.

What struck me most about the women’s hockey discussions at this week’s World Hockey Summit was that sports, and female participation in sports, is part of a larger conversation about equality and the treatment of women worldwide.

[Arto] Sieppi silenced the crowd when he told of how he got involved in women’s hockey in 1998. “I was asked to be an assistant coach with the national team, and I said no many times for two reasons: women can’t skate and women’s hockey players are not athletes. My wife convinced me to try it, and 12 years later, I don’t regret a single day. The development of women’s hockey in that time has been huge.”

While sports, and female participation in sports is the primary focus of this site, and would also appear to be the case for my mission, sports is something of a tip of the iceberg in terms of how a given society views and treats women as a whole. Mr. Sieppi just as easily could have claimed that women can’t add numbers together and female scientists can’t work for NASA. He could have said that women can’t run companies and “female entrepreneur” is a fancy word for “hooker”. Sadly, we don’t need to look to third-world countries for these sorts of attitudes about women. They can be found right here in the USA. Or here. Or here. Get the picture?

Perhaps the prime reason why I am beating the drum for “heroes” and why I want more, not less, opportunities for girls and young women across the USA to have exposure to female athletes is to erode and eliminate the claim that girls can’t [do whatever].

Passionate and effective, [Sieppi] looked out to the audience and declared: “This is a company. It’s not like Nokia, but it’s a company that’s going to the stock market. You are investors — buy that stock!”

Dovetailing nicely into the fact that the WNBA playoffs continue tonight (check your local listings), and the fact that basketball is basketball, I applaud former hater Arto Sieppi for coming around and realizing that truly, hockey is for everyone. My hope is that someday, everything will be for everyone. We won’t bat an eyelash that we have a female boss or the CEO is a woman. We won’t fuss over our president being a woman. It will be perfectly normal for women to serve at all levels of the armed forces. And nowhere, at no time, will a parent, teacher, coach, friend, guardian, or mentor ever tell anybody, “you can’t do that because you’re a girl.” Yes, your daughter can be a pro hockey player. Yes, your daughter can be a pro football player. Yes, your daughter can be a pro soccer player. Yes, your daughter can go to college. Yes, your daughter can aspire to the ranks of 4-Star General or Surgeon General or Attorney General.

Invest in your daughters. Investing in women’s sports is a way to do it, but not the way to do it.



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