Late to the party on this one but better late than never, right? Right.
There they were. Hanging up with the dozens of red and blue shirts. Sticking out like a lone Toronto fan in a sea of Habs fans, were the pink shirts. You’ve no doubt seen at least one pink shirt floating around in stores and you’ve probably seen more than a couple of people wearing them. I tried not to puke as I walked past them on my way to look at the Ovechkin shirts that were shoved in the back of the store. Love them or hate them, the pink shirts are now an integral part of the array of over-priced NHL merchandise.
And for some people that’s a bit of a problem.
I’ve never ever been a fan of those pink shirts. Ever. I’ll fess up and say I’ve hated the colour pink since I was about… five I guess, so there was never going to be any doubt that I was going to dislike those shirts. But my dislike of them goes further than just the colour. I dislike what they appear to stand for.
To me the reason why those shirts even exist is because NHL is trying to cater to a certain demographic of women who are probably beyond the “casual fan” category. Generally these people are the wives, girlfriends and sisters of the male fans and who don’t really know a heck of a lot about the game. I don’t have a problem with the NHL trying to promote itself to a wider audience. They’re just doing their job which is to make bucket loads of money (I do have a problem with this but that’s a different matter). I don`t even have a problem with women who don`t know a thing about the game but want to show their support in some way.
My problem is that to me, it’s like the NHL is dumbing down hockey for women.
Go into any store that sells NHL shirts and you’ll notice that most of the women’s stuff is “fluffy”. They’re pink or similarly light coloured or they’ve got sparkles on them or both. This really cuts down on the wearable options for girls who don’t like fluffy stuff and don’t fit well in the guys style of shirts (yes, I’m speaking from personal experience here).
And if it’s not the fluffy clothes then it’s the “cute” players. People seem to be under the impression that women only watch hockey to see the cute players. Before you mention words “but you like Ovechkin….”, I will say this: Yes, I am an Ovie fan. No, I am not an Ovie fangirl. There’s a huge difference. I like Ovechkin because I think he’s a tremendously skilled player who is very entertaining to watch on the ice. He’s genuine and comes off way less “manufactured” than a certain other star player. If Ovechkin was half as talented as he is now and still displayed the same amount of emotion, I would still watch him. I don’t watch Ovie because someone told me that he looks hot and he scores a million goals.
I understand that women approach the game differently and if the NHL wants to make money off of them then they have to alter their approach. The problem with this current approach is that the “real” fans are the ones who are getting left out. For the purpose of this post, I’ll call “real” fans the people who care about the game as opposed to the “fangirls” who just care about the cute looking players. Most “real” fans will not wear a pink shirt. You don’t see a sea of pink when the cameras at the Bell Center pass over the crowds. While women do tend to look beyond just a player’s stat and want to know more about the players’ personalities, that doesn’t make them rabid fangirls who swoon at the sight of Carey Price.
I want to make it clear that I think it’s okay that there’s people who like pink and like players because they think that they are cute. It’s not for me, but whatever floats your boat. I just don’t think it’s okay for the NHL to think that ALL women are like that.