Hey, You! What You Say Has Weight.

Ten years ago, for my senior year project, I had to write a paper about what career I wanted to have in the future. At the time, I was extremely interested in journalism. My paper ended up being titled “The Media’s Effects on Society”. If I had to do it all over today, the title would be “Social Media’s Effects on Women in the Sports World”, I think.

Yesterday a fairly influential member of the hockey reporting world made the comment that “For me, women calling games isn’t about skill/knowledge, b/c there are women who can talk circles around current, terrible men PxPers. But announcers play a role. Woman’s PxP voice on NFL/NHL changes viewing experience for me. Personal preference. (Doesn’t apply to analysts)” [Tweets 1 | 2]

Unfortunately, I was sleeping when these comments were made. Or maybe fortunately, because by the time I had woken up, most of the admonition had died down though it continued to be a topic of discussion throughout the day. Wyshynski then attempted (kind of, sort of, not really) with “PbP is a role, & male voice better fills it, for me, for now. Open-minded about it. I wanna see woman Doctor Who. And Angelina Jolie as Bond”. [Tweet 1]

I’m going to be completely honest. I lost a lot of respect for him after these tweets. But more than that, they started making me think of what the ultimate fallout of these comments might be.

While hockey and the NHL are becoming more and more “women-friendly”, in my opinion these simple tweets just took it back about a hundred steps. We have a well-known hockey voice saying that he’d prefer not to hear a woman in a play-by-play role. Those words have weight, a ripple effect. All because of his preference. All because he… what? Gets uncomfortable listening to a woman’s voice say things like “Bieksa shot it in deep”?

I’m not going to call him a misogynist, mostly because of the textbook definition from dictionary.com

mi·sog·y·nist

a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.

I debated the mistrusts/mistreats, and it’s borderline for me. I’ll let you draw your own opinion.

However, I am going to call him old-fashioned and a member of the “Boys Only” club**. The NHL – and all sports in general – are rapidly becoming more friendly towards women. But this puts up a wall that’s going to be difficult to get over. Fans aren’t the only ones that give weight to words on Twitter. The Powers That Be see this too. And, please correct me if I’m missing something, wouldn’t a potential train of thought be “Well, if one influential person thinks this way, there are probably several viewers that think this way… What would the end result be if we did have a woman play-by-play announcer? We shouldn’t risk it because of this…”  I’m not saying this is an absolute, but it’s a potential.

Further, how much did this limit women already in the sports world trying to get a job? Any job. A prominent male voice saying that a woman might be okay for job A but not for job B.

I started thinking about the current blogs I follow for my favorite team – Canucks Army & Pass it to Bulis. Know what they have in common besides the obvious? There’s not a single woman on staff. Apparently Nucks Misconduct has female writers (a female writer? Is there more than one there? I have no idea, I don’t go there, sorry.) I’m pretty sure there’s a 4th blog that contributes to the Canucks world, but I have no idea what it is. Or maybe I’m imagining it. Maybe I just think there should be a 4th blog that gets a lot of foot traffic, possibly with more females on staff. There’s a thought.

In short – guys, keep your opinions about where a woman’s place isn’t to yourself. Don’t say we ‘don’t belong’ anywhere. This is the year 2013 and we’re still having to fight against stereotypes. I, for one, would love to hear a woman play-by-play announcer. But what do I know? I’m just a woman myself.

(An Open Note to Greg Wyshynski, should he ever read this:

I have a lot of respect for you, slightly diminished by your recent comments. I have no idea if you’ve learned anything from the last couple of days, I hope you have, because I certainly have. Women have a place in the hockey world. We need more female voices in hockey. Please don’t undermine things just because you’re uncomfortable. We need equality more than ever.

Sincerely,

Ashley)

**Thanks to a friend on Twitter for the conversation – sorry I stole your terms. Let me know if you want credit.
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