After 10 years of minor hockey dispersed over recreational, competitive, winter, spring, summer, fall, girls and boys PLUS adult men’s hockey, I have finally tired of all the comparisons made between girls and boys hockey. I used to put up a fight and pull out my composite gender equality shtick, but no more. Isn’t it great that we all get to play (it’s actually probably a really good thing for humanity that I DON’T play)? My 3 kids (2 boys and 1 girl) and my husband play our national sport (sorry, it IS hockey not lacrosse) at some organized level. When I was young it certainly wasn’t an option for me other than the occasional neighbourhood game where Groskie’s baby sister was thrilled when begrudgingly included in the “boys” game by being thrown in nets (and with no equipment I might add).
Girls’ hockey is a different kind of hockey for sure. In case you’re wondering, here are a few things that go on in girls’ hockey that make boys (and some men) gag:
- Team nicknames are carefully shortlisted and voted upon annually and become part of all team communication henceforth for the season. Past team names I’ve happily cheered on include the Kool Katz, the Fireblades and the Ice Cats. As team manager I confess that I’ve successfully rigged the voting to avoid ever having to wear team gear with “Go Cougars!” brandished across my chest. So help me God, I’ll do it again.
- I’ll admit the brouhaha surrounding appropriate attire of the stuffed team mascot took some getting used to, but that too is part of girls’ hockey. The fact is, this mascot presides over pregame warm up more than the coach so don’t argue. Doesn’t every professional sport have a team mascot? I have yet to see one at a boys’ game however.
- Let’s not forget the post-game treat schedule rotation requiring a team volunteer on its own. Shame on the mom who forgets her “turn”. Unforgiveable.
- Each team requires a crew of DenMoms because they ensure ponytails don’t get stuck in the neck guard Velcro and other such faux pas.
- It’s ok to delay the puck drop because you just recognized your opposing winger is a team mate from last season. It’s pretty critical to reconnect after all.
- War paint in team colours is an essential accessory at hockey tournaments. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why this stuff hasn’t caught on in boys’ hockey (ok, not the paw prints of course). Surely guys would love this pre-game ritual, no?
- Hockey tournament dead time (free time between tournament games) is spent painting nails, wrapping hair and making jewelry; therefore there is no dead time.
- It’s vitally important to get all your team mates’ signatures on your restaurant paper placement (unlike boys’ hockey that will use same for spit balls).
- Group photos are soooooo the thing.
I could go on…
Almost 600,000 players are registered with Hockey Canada. While still trailing the male numbers by a huge margin, female hockey players registered with Hockey Canada jumped from just over 43,000 in 1999 to over 85,000 in 2009. The male numbers are pretty flat for the same period having gone from 462,000 to 490,000. Let’s give this number some perspective: 2% of our nation’s population play organized hockey (I imagine there are thousands more little sisters serving as pylons and target practice all over Canada!). More and more girls are playing the sport and changing its unofficial rules of play. It’s time to just accept the gender diversity of the sport and enjoy the game!
Oh- but don’t forget the homemade noisemakers with colourful beads …