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Otherness

30 April 2015

People got their undies in all manner of bunches in January when I stated “You’re not a real hockey fan if you only support men’s programs.” I’m certainly not backing off of that statement now or any time in the future.

Women’s hockey is a subset of the sport of hockey. Or, to be specific, women’s ice hockey is a subset of the sport of ice hockey. So is men’s ice hockey. Women’s hockey is not a separate sport.

I say this because I have asked UMD athletics via social media many times why they name their twitter accounts the way they do. They have one account for women’s hockey news and updates, @UMDWHOCKEY, and one account for men’s hockey news and updates, @UMDHOCKEY. I’ve been ignored, probably because it’s seen as a trivial thing, but I don’t think it’s trivial.

Why must it be hockey and women’s hockey? Why can’t it be @UMDMHOCKEY and @UMDWHOCKEY? It’s a very simple change. It might be a good time to make that change, too, considering tUMD women’s hockey has been treated rather badly of late by some in the athletic department and administration.

A Twitter username change isn’t that hard. It doesn’t require a new account, the username can be changed in the settings. No one would have to re-follow. Get it done, Bob Nygaard. It’s an easy fix. You may think it’s a small change, just one letter, who really cares? If that’s the case, then do it. This small gesture would be a step toward mending some fences and smoothing some ruffled feathers. It would show that both programs have value, that hockey isn’t just for men.

Referring to men’s hockey as hockey while referring to women’s hockey as women’s hockey is reinforcing the otherness of women’s hockey. Hockey is for men, women’s hockey is for women. It’s like calling a woman “the female Jonathan Toews” or calling a black author “the black Hemingway.”

Women’s sports have a long way to go toward mainstream acceptance. tUMD is hardly the only institution that uses women’s as a qualifier. The Star Tribune has “Minnesota Hockey Hub” and “Minnesota Girls Hockey Hub.” (The banner of the actual MN Hockey Hub site is now Boys’s Hockey Hub, but the website title and URL remain). The Gophers have the same issue on social media. Bemidji doesn’t even seem to have a women’s hockey twitter account, and the account that allegedly covers both hasn’t tweeted in like 3 years. Boston University has the same issue as tUMD and UMTC, so it’s not even a regional thing. Even the Tree Hugging Bleeding Heart Socialist East Coast Liberals can’t seem to use inclusive language to publicize their hockey teams.

How is it the second least progressive state in the country, after Utah, can have their hockey teams’s accounts named equitably? North Dakota’s hockey Twitter accounts are @UNDWHOCKEY and @UNDMHOCKEY. That’s embarrassing. (Updated: Jack Hittinger informed me Bemidji is also on the Inclusivity Train. Their accounts are @BSUMHOCKEY and @BeaverWoHockey. Come on, a MNSCU school is more enlightened than tUMD? GET ON IT.)

UMD athletics, Josh Berlo, Bob Nygaard, etc. Change the freaking Twitter handle, please.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 1 May 2015 6:41 pm

    Some people like high school girls hockey.
    Some people like high school boys hockey
    Some people like college womens hockey
    Some people like college mens hockey
    Some people like the WHL.
    Some people like the OHL.
    Some people like the KHL.
    Some people like the NHL……..

    Along those lines, I have friends who love girl’s h.s.hockey and don’t care a bit for the boys game. They probably follow just the girls’ team’s twitter handle and not the boys’.

    I only follow one DIII team as I prefer the skill and speed of D1 men’s game and I tend to follow the womens’ game when the playoffs roll around and I love the womens hockey at the Olympics.

    You’re going to have a tough time persuading me (or I’m sure my girls h.s. loving friends for that matter) that we are not ‘real hockey fans’!

    My point is that we all have different types of hockey that we like the most. I think having pretty ‘granular’ (for lack of a better word) UMD twitter handles (both mens and womens) makes a good deal of sense.

    I have a strong hunch that anyone with half a brain who loves both UMD teams and comes across @UMDMHOCKEY before he/she comes across @UMDWHOCKEY will probably make the logical assumption that if there is a @UMDMHOCKEY then there is likely a @UMDWHOCKEY.

    • 1 May 2015 7:24 pm

      “I have a strong hunch that anyone with half a brain who loves both UMD teams and comes across @UMDMHOCKEY before he/she comes across @UMDWHOCKEY will probably make the logical assumption that if there is a @UMDMHOCKEY then there is likely a @UMDWHOCKEY.”

      Agreed. That is why the men’s account should be @UMDMHOCKEY, not @UMDHOCKEY, as it is now.

      As for the rest of your point, obviously there’s some hyperbole. But someone who categorically refuses to watch women’s hockey and actively puts down women’s hockey while professing to be a hockey fan is not, actually, a hockey fan. It would be like if you invited me to a D3 hockey game and I was like “No way! They suck! The game is so slow and all those losers don’t even have scholarships!” Obviously we can’t go to every hockey game ever. It’s all in the attitude.

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