First One That Calls Me a Puckbunny, Pow. Right In the Kisser.June 2, 2010
So the Daily Beast posted a column discussing why the NHL has seen such a dramatic increase in the number of female fans. They provide some pretty compelling stats backing up their claim. Female viewership for this year’s playoffs is up 8%, the highest level that it’s been since 1997. This normally would be a good thing, right? Yes, but the argument used to support this increase is completely out there.
So what exactly is the author’s justification for this increase? The game is exciting and easy to follow? Nope. Female fans probably grew up in the game or watching the game with their fathers? Not even close. The increase in women’s hockey programs has grown interest in the sport? Sorry, please try again.
Instead, the author claims that it’s because the hockey players are hot and are now suddenly tabloid darlings due to the relationships that Comrie and Fisher have with Hilary Duff and Carrie Underwood and the tabloid/fashion antics of Sean Avery.
Really? You’re kidding me, right? I know that US Weekly and the other tabs are the first place I go to check out hockey news.
Do I deny that hockey players are hot? No. In fact, they’re quite nice to look at both on and off the ice. But that’s not why I watch the game. I watch the game because it’s easy to follow. It’s just pass, shoot, score. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Add in some fantastic goalie play and you’ve got a great back and forth sport that keeps fans on the edge of their seats. Throw in historic rivalries, tradition and a set of teams that seem to understand how to connect with their fans, and it’s a win/win situation. Hockey fandom shouldn’t have a gender, but it sadly does. Exhibit A is the popularity of the “pink” line of ladies apparel and the NHL’s introduction of some uh…interesting products for the ladies (Does anyone really need a Sabres print thong?).
I guess what also has my irish in an uproar is that the NHL re-tweeted this story. Is any publicity good publicity? To a certain extent, yes. But at the same time, the league needs to be careful about alienating a significant chunk of its fanbase. Labeling female hockey fans with the “they just watch the game because they think the players are hot and want a sparkly diamond ring from one of them” is a dangerous path to take.