After reading Adam Proteau’s column for The Hockey News, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell he was thinking.
The Hockey News is typically filled with interesting, well-written stories about the game itself. Proteau, however, decided to write a hack piece on the NHL ice girls.
He declares a need to eradicate “the misogyny, explicit and casual, that exists in the sport” and that “one of the easiest ways to start is by getting rid of half dressed ice girls.”
Proteau goes on to say:
“This issue isn’t about the cheerleaders themselves. It’s about what we ask them to do under the guise of “entertainment.” We ask them work for next to no money in frigid arenas with their shoulders, midsection and/or legs exposed.”
Has Proteau ever been to a women’s figure skating contest or seen what Serena Williams wears? When’s the last time someone did a triple-axel in sweatpants?
And who is we? All that’s asked by an NHL organization (not ‘we’) is for interested, qualified girls to apply for a tryout.
In Chicago and many other NHL cities, girls practically stumble over themselves to be invited to an audition.
As a long-time Blackhawks season ticket holder, my seats are on the glass just behind the goal at the west end of the United Center. Which of course, places me right next to where the Blackhawks Ice Crew are stationed throughout the game.
The Blackhawks’ Ice Crew is a model squad for the NHL. The women are smart, hard-working, energetic and excellent at skating.
They arrive two hours before puck drop, and are paid $50 per game. Certainly the girls would like to be paid more, but it’s not a full-time job for them. Some of the young women are pursuing careers, attending school or even raising a family on the side.
Not to mention, they love being associated with an NHL organization. In Chicago, the girls serve as team ambassadors and take part in many team social activities outside the arena (for which they are paid).
Certainly, the girls must be attractive in close-fitting attire – which are a bit more modest this season. They entertain, but also perform ice maintenance during TV timeouts – a job they must have some interest in doing because a sloppy effort could lead to an injured player.
From everything I know, the girls love the job. Besides being paid, they see the games for free, are well fed and even get their make up done for them.
My good friend Yanina Beccaria, a former Blackhawk’s Ice Crew captain, has often told me that her days on the squad were some of the most rewarding years of her life. When I shared Adam Proteau’s column with Yanina, she found it unprecedented and somewhat inaccurate.
“Every girl I’ve ever asked said that they would do the job for nothing,” Yanina told me. “Do men feel similarly insecure when they have to endure two and a half hours of looking at men with incredible athletic skills, bodies and multi million dollar contracts?”
Adam Proteau reminds me of that kid in school who would remind the teacher that she forgot to assign homework for the weekend, just seconds before the dismissal bell on Friday.
He doesn’t quote a single girl in his piece, and probably didn’t even speak with any actual (or former) ice girls around the league before writing it.
“We ask them to objectify themselves – to be ogled and leered at by strangers – and never stop smiling. We ask them to reduce their contributions so that they’re little more than eye candy.” – Adam Proteau
As far as research goes, Proteau’s sources are nothing more than a bundle of anonymous Twitter followers. According to Proteau, the tweeters felt like the NHL should discontinue the ice girls. They also take a stab at the league’s marketing, and suggest that the league not specifically market to women.
It is estimated (according to She Economy) that women make 85% of the country’s consumer purchases. The NFL is investing a fortune by trying to attract the women demographic. So if that’s the case, why are Proteau’s (very credible) Twitter followers suggesting that the NHL ignore them instead?
Proteau professed that no one ever leaves a game and talks about the ice girls. Which of course, is nothing more than a completely blind and blanketing assumption.
“Nobody leaves a game and says, ‘The best part of the night didn’t have anything to do with the action on the ice – it was when that cheerleader jumped up and down in co-ordination with other cheerleaders and said something positive about the team!'” – Adam Proteau
Oh really, nobody cares about these young women? What about their friends and family that bought tickets to come see them? What about little girls who have dreams of being an ice skater when they grow up?
I’ve also never heard anyone say that the best part of the hockey game was the chili-dog they ate during the first intermission. Should they ban junk food, too?
This season, there was an uproar from fans when the Philadelphia Flyers discontinued their ice girls and replaced them with orange suited icemen. That foolish decision didn’t last more than a week, which should almost discredit Proteau’s mindless rant indefinitely.
If Adam Proteau wants to write about the game of hockey, so be it. But the next time he wants to skate on unfamiliar ice, maybe he should know what the hell he’s talking about.
(Feature photo via Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew)