On Tuesday, Feb. 8, the hockey world woke up to the displeasure of Rosie DiManno putting out her opinion that women’s hockey shouldn’t be in the Winter Olympics because Canada and the United States are the only countries that have won gold medals.
While she does bring up some interesting points, her suggestion to cut women’s hockey is in itself a counteractive move to the problem. Women’s hockey doesn’t get as much exposure as other sports. Although in North America, you have the Rivalry Series, PWHPA and the PHF, if you look at the options for someone to watch European women’s hockey, it’s almost barren.
But moreover, it’s insulting. Insulting, especially in a time that welcomed Czechia and Denmark to their first women’s hockey Olympic appearance. To suggest that women that play for these nations who are still developing the sport don’t have enough pride in their nation, even when losing to Canada or the U.S., is insulting. Even in the presence of women’s hockey giants, they will wear their nation’s colours proudly and become the architects for the next generation.
What also infuriates me is that DiManno isn’t the only journalist that expects every international competition to always be competitive. The hard truth about sports is that it will always be unfair because of outside components. International sports provide an opportunity to elevate and represent the sport you are passionate about.
It doesn’t matter if you are at the Olympics, or playing against a Triple A hockey team from Ontario. It doesn’t matter if you fundamentally agree with a nation’s government. It doesn’t matter if you are wiping out the competition or getting slaughtered. When you represent your nation, it doesn’t matter if you are playing Canada or a team that is closer to your skill level. They will compete in their sport and do anything in their power to inspire those around them and the next generation.
That is what the Winter Olympics are about. It is to provide sports with the biggest multi-sport event stage in the world, while trying to maintain a healthy growth of the games that it provides. That is why you will see Denmark celebrate like they won gold when they very likely won their only match in the Olympics. Because they are proud, and young women in Denmark will be inspired by their actions.
The sad reality is that such opinion like this doesn’t only land itself on the women’s side. When the World Juniors come about every year, Canada will usually beat out a team badly. Denmark, Germany and Austria are all nations that are in the conversation. Austria was the latest victim of some Canadian journalists believing they shouldn’t, or wouldn’t want to be at the competition because they lost 11-2.
In reality, the fans of Austria were jumping with joy after not one, but two goals were scored against the giants of the hockey world. These “journalists” don’t understand that winning in international competition isn’t always about the gold.
If you asked Americans what the best hockey moment in the country’s history was, they would probably say the miracle on ice.
Would Americans want to be excluded from the Olympics? The Soviet team was considered one of the strongest national teams in those days. If we went by DiManno’s thought process with excluding sports because of dominant nations, we would of never have bare witness to the Miracle on Ice.
But the Americans were given the opportunity and made history that day. We will have a women’s “miracle on ice” moment someday, and if you ask the women who play the sport where they would want it, they would say they prefer having it at the Olympics in front of millions of fans.
Let’s not gatekeep sports. Sports brings in happiness and hope for people who may have a hard time finding it. We shouldn’t act like to participate in sports, it’s you who should be honouring the sport, but instead, it should be the sport honouring you.
If there is any advice I could give to anyone who consumes or is involved with sports, it’s that you should never insult anyone’s pride for sport, hobbies, or anything else.