Saturday, August 30, 2008

Women That Compete Are Magnificent

I have an idea that I'd like to share with everyone, but first a confession. (To skip my confession and avoid the version of my idea where I ramble on and pretend like I'm talkin' to friends, scroll down to the bottom for the short version under summary.)

The Confession

I like a few sports other then hockey. Not many, but a few. I like soccer, women's soccer, indoor women's volleyball, women's beach volleyball (though not as much), and of course, women's hockey. (I also like roller derby but I'm not sure that counts as a "sport") I don't follow any of these sports religiously, but when they're on TV, I watch. Did anyone notice a pattern? I guess you could say, I like to watch women compete. It's true, I am a heterosexual male, so you might think I'm coming at this from the wrong direction, but let me just say this: Women are awesome. Women are amazing. Strong women, creative women, intelligent women, confident women - those are my favorites. A woman with soul and courage and determination makes my heart melt. Women that compete are magnificent.

I found Manon Rheaume fascinating and attractive. I think Cassie Campbell is cool. Haley Wickenheiser is awesome and makes me proud. (Not to mention's Kara Lang's performance at the Olympics. Wow.) So think what you will, but I mean this with the best of intentions:

The Idea

A National Women's Hockey League with a massive promotional push and deep, deep infrastructure. Something comparable to the WNBA, but less clumsy, far fewer teams, and no basketballs.

I'd like to see a six-team super-league playing a 40-game schedule with the best 150 female hockey players in the world. The six teams should play in the Original Six cities; Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, and New York. Calgary and Vancouver are too far off and the travel is too expensive, although the Western Women's Hockey League seems to be the stronger of the two women's professional leagues currently going. The West Coast might have the jump on the East Coast, but it's nowhere near where it should be, and if there's going to be one dominant league, the money is in the east. In time, the two leagues can merge and have some sort of Women's World Series Super Final.

Television exposure is a must. It has to be enormous. Regional and National. I also want to see local media throw their support behind the teams the way they have for Toronto FC and Toronto Rock, and treat the sport like any other big-time sport, with the same class and integrity. On second thought, more so.

I think that with the right attitude and ambition, women's hockey could be a winner. I, for one, could watch a lot more hockey, while paying less attention to the NHL. I'd still follow the Leafs just as much , but the NHL has had my last dollar, and if it ain't free, I ain't buyin' it, and you can't trick me into buying other stuff to get the stuff you say is free. (The funny thing about Coca Cola Zero is that's exactly what I think it's worth.) As long as ticket prices remain somewhere between Blue Jays and Marlies, count me in for at least a few games a year. Not to mention buying a jersey for my wife every birthday and Christmas. Wait, I have a 1-year old daughter, are you crazy?! I'd blow $500 a year on merchandise, if there was a National Women's Hockey League. T-shirts, caps, toques, or anything with a cool team name and logo on it, for the next 17 years! My girl wants to play in the Big League. She doesn't know it yet, but I'm guessing it's true.

The calibre of hockey in a six-team women's league would be exciting and skillful. It could also be a different league with its own variations on the rules (no-touch icing, all games have 3-point value, or conversely - have ties and kill the shoot-out). Fan-emphasis should be placed on players' stats, and every record established as if it has historical significance, because, if done right, it will. The game will have its own stars, and eventually, its own legends. The women that lead, that inspire, with charm and grace and character should be celebrated, in any sport, or any walk of life, but women that play hockey are freakin' wicked-amazing and I want to see more.


Women's Professional Hockey League.
Six-team Super League in the Original Six cities.

(One more link: It was hard to find a hockey blog dedicated to women's hockey only, but here's Total Female Hockey - it's kind of intense. There should be more blog's dedicated to the terrific women who play the greatest sport ever.)


Jennifer Hammer said...

great idea, I would definitely watch!

general borschevsky said...

Wow, I've been "hammered" by the quote-unquote "dave schultz of hockey-blogs", "dave shultz"!

I really like your blog, so it's an honour.
If anyone hasn't seen I mean, we got guys... check it out right now.

Thanks for droppin' by. Really appreciate your comment.

Jennifer Hammer said...

oh thanks! I enjoy yours as well. Had I known you were looking to get "hammered" I could have come up with some snarky comments earlier :P

Baroque said...

As a bonus - it might also provide a place for the female players in Europe to get better competition and support. I know one of the things that frustrates female hockey players in Europe is the lack of support for women's sports in their countries, and that really limits their ability to compete with Canada and the US.

I think it's a great idea to start small so it doesn't choke on its own aspirations and market the heck out of it. Maybe justify it as building a fanbase for the NHL, too (I read somewhere that the NHL has a greater proportion of females in the fanbase than most other sports) and everyone knows that women buy stuff. The league has to have a better marketing concept than "make it in baby pink!" though. :)

general borschevsky said...

Hi baroque! Excellent comment. Thanks for dropping by.
I agree with your comments about European players. Too often international tournaments are dominated by 2 teams - USA and Canada, but that doesn't mean their aren't good individual players from Sweden or Russia who could compete and play exciting hockey in a North American league.

The Player Development Pro said...

A brand-new women's hockey league launched last year - The Canadian Women's Hockey League Coincidentally, this league used to be known as The National Women's Hockey League prior to last season. In the 2007-2008 season, there were over 15 current or former Olympians playing for the 7 teams spread across Ontario and Quebec.

general borschevsky said...

Wow, hi PDPro! So glad you dropped by. Welcome to the General Area, and thanks for the comment and the link. I have a link in my post to a wikipedia page for the CWHL under East Coast, but maybe I should have mentioned it specifically in the text.
Hayley Wickenheiser plays in the other women's pro league, WWHL which has 5 pro teams. I think it's great that women are getting more opportunties to play the game professionally, and that fans of hockey in general have more opportunties to see it played at a high level.
Specifically, what I would really enjoy though, is a six-team NHL-style Big League with all of the best female hockey players from around the globe playing on the grand stage with the highest level of media exposure and coverage. And of course, million dollar salaries! I mentioned I have a daughter, right?
Thanks again PDPro, with great respect.