Last week, Jen came to me and the three other "Too Many Men On The Ice" contributors with an idea: we would write a series of posts expressing frustration with how the NHL and PA have handled the CBA negotiations. We would also address how we would approach the situation differently as female hockey fans.
The posts went up yesterday, and the controversy immediately followed. Some writers were accused of misandry and perpetuating gender essentialism. For the record, I anticipated many of these critiques, and attempted to address them in the opening paragraph of my post. I can see how a group of women making jokes about men not asking for directions, thinking with their little head, and the cinematic masterpiece that is "Magic Mike" perpetuates gendered stereotypes about men being dunderheads who are, well, unwilling to ask for directions.
But we don't really believe these things, guys. We are not NHL insiders, just a group of frustrated women who love hockey. We are upset that games have been cancelled through January 14th. We are upset that the next slate of cancelled games might take us to the end of what would have been - what should have been - the 2012-13 NHL season. And we are upset by the apathy shown by both the NHL and PA. We are frustrated that no one really seems invested in saving the season, and that is why we make jokes about "Magic Mike" - because we don't really know what's going on. It's a lighthearted way of blowing off steam and mourning the (about to be) lost season.
One commenter mentioned that there are multiple women who work for the NHLPA who are active on Twitter. I don't doubt that there are many women out there who do yeoman's work for the NHL and PA. But they aren't the ones in front of the cameras. Gary Bettman, Don Fehr, Bill Daly, and the player representatives of each team are the people front and center. The faces of this lockout are men.
I don't believe that a new CBA would be automatically negotiated if Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman were magically replaced by Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. And I also don't believe that women are fundamentally kinder, sweeter, and more virtuous than men (that would be sexist). But the assignment was to identify what women could to move the negotiations along. My post focused on the organizing power of female hockey fans. Others discussed how a willingness to compromise and ask for help might get us a new agreement sooner. These ideas aren't particularly offensive.
Furthermore, these posts were not meant to be thorough analyses of the complexities of the lockout. I wanted to address the apathy that has surrounded this lockout, but felt it wouldn't be appropriate for this particular project. Even though one commenter (rightly) said that we need to trust the negotiating process, apathy and the NHL are longtime bedfellows. While the NHL enjoys a lot of local popularity in America, it is behind the MLB, NBA, and NFL in national popularity. The lockout has also received minimal mainstream media coverage. (I have a hunch that the lack of American media coverage has kept the pressure off of Bettman).
We also do not have a hockey equivalent Peyton Manning or a Derek Fisher who has been as vocal (aside from the occasional Tweet) about restoring the season. Even Sidney Crosby said that at the end of the day, he's just a hockey player. I understand his frustration, but that is not the attitude that gets a new CBA before June 2013. Even SB Nation NHL writers are writing about how the don't really miss the league that much.
Ah, the fans - of both genders. We may not be CBA negotiations movers and shakers, but we are more important than we realize. Fan rage is a powerful motivator - just ask the cheeseheads (Green Bay Packers fans, for the Canadians).
P.S. Sonia Sotomayor ended the MLB lockout, and the stiletto-skates are awesome.