A recent article over at the Globe inspired me to write a new post.
The piece debates the merits of introducing bodychecking to women's hockey, and I think it is a valid one.
To take hitting out of hockey changes the game dramatically. Now I am one who advocates cracking down on headshots and I am violently opposed to fighting in hockey, but I am all for the physical play.
Without the physical play, there is an element of fear and self-awareness that is completely stripped down. Players can just skate up the ice with their heads down and only have to aware of a poke check and not getting rammed to the ice.
When you're on the boards or racing for the puck, you don't have to worry about someone coming in behind you, and therefore you can pick up the puck peacefully. When you have the puck and you see someone coming, you can take an extra second to make a decision because you know they're not going to slam you.
The element of hitting instills a fear in players to make quick decisions and be aware of their surroundings, not to mention the battles that ensue that are much different than a poke-checking contest.
I understand this is women we're talking about; however, to say they cannot handle the physical test, one only needs to watch videos like this. Yes, we know women have inferior physical statures to men, but that’s why they're facing other women. So, Todd Bertuzzi will not be delivering elbows to them.
If we're going to keep the rules as it is, you can't call it ice hockey, because thats not what it is.
Swedish head coach Peter Elander's take on it:
"I just think it's so old-fashioned to say 'Girls can do this, but they can't do that, Women are doing the full Ironman [triathlon]. So what's this about women not being able to do what men can?"
Arto Sieppi, Finland's director of women's hockey, opposed to introducing bodychecking, response to Peter was:
"Peter is a good friend of mine, but I totally disagree," Sieppi says. "First of all, it's a women's sport and if bodychecking would be allowed, the number of young girls entering the game would decrease rapidly."
A statement of which I would love to see some support for, I don't know what women athletics are like in Finland, but in America women athletes are tough as nails and if given the chance can take as much hitting as the next person. We have Womens Rugby, MMA, Boxing and other physical sports so I'm failing to see the empirical evidence that women can't take a hit.
Elander also makes a good point about the dinosaur men and their philosophies. This is all about outdates principles, what came first women can't play hockey or even sports? Ya that theory held.
Maybe it’s because it’s not sexy or feminine to women to be cross-checking each other, but lets face it women aren't playing hockey to be models. Let the damn girls play the game they grew up watching their brothers, male friends and role-model athletes were playing.