Opinion: Misogyny Has No Place in Hockey

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On Apr. 1, hockey fans all over Twitter were greeted by former NHL’er Bobby Ryan tweeting, “Name 7 players. Not 1. Not 2…5-7. First and last names…go for it.” While Ryan’s comments may seem harmless, they were in response to data scientist and co-founder of hockey firm Stahletes Meghan Chayka live-tweeting her excitement about the NCAA Women’s Basketball Elite Eight game between Iowa and LSU. Chayka’s original tweet read, “Why does it seem like everyone is watching women’s basketball?? Oh because EVERYONE is watching.” She wasn’t wrong. Women’s basketball is at new heights of popularity for a variety of reasons – good marketing, national broadcasts and brand recognition, and visible stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, JuJu Watkins, and others. While hockey and basketball often don’t overlap, Ryan’s comments forced them to – and caused lots of discourse surrounding misogyny in sports, especially within hockey.

Ryan’s comments were controversial, as female hockey fans, myself included, responded with varying degrees of disdain due to the inherent misogyny in the commentary. Misogyny is ingrained in every aspect of society. For many female sports fans, our sports are an escape from the bias and worse we experience every single day. I empathize with Ryan’s past struggles. I empathize with the insecurity and deep pain that causes someone to lash out like Ryan has. However, I condemn Ryan’s comments as much as I can. Women in hockey are no longer punching bags to satisfy egos. The condescension of those tweets is one every woman in sports knows all too well. Prove that you deserve to be in this space. Prove that you’re qualified in ways that others don’t have to perform to. I ask this: if a man in hockey tweeted what Chayka did, would Ryan and others ask them to name seven players?

Ryan’s comments weren’t just misogynistic, but poorly timed. Similar to the women’s basketball boom, the PWHL has experienced new influxes of popularity in its first year. Great marketing and wider accessibility is certainly a cause of why, but maybe, just maybe, it’s not hard to conclude that women’s sports are great. Women’s sports are great not because they spite, but because they grow the game – whether that game is basketball or hockey – in ways that were unimaginable in recent history. Women’s sports leagues deserve to exist and be marketed well because women’s sports give female athletes the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

Hockey culture is a controversial term. But undeniably, Ryan’s comments are a degree of what hockey culture is intended to mean – an old boys’ club unwilling to accept change. It’s 2024, not 1994 – what keeps misogyny so common in hockey? (The culture. It’s always the culture.) Sports are a reflection of the society that promotes them. It’s up to all of us – whether or not we have a platform – to reshape hockey culture as we know it. Because misogyny in hockey culture is bigger than Bobby Ryan’s tweets. It influences so many aspects of hockey culture as we know it. And it’s up to us as representatives of the sport, whether we’re fans, reporters, players, coaches, or someone in between, to change that.

One thought on “Opinion: Misogyny Has No Place in Hockey”

  1. Great insight and spot-on perspective about this unfortunate episode. Laughable in itself, but as part of the larger “hockey culture” conversation, it’s painful and condescending.

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