When Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith made his comments about a female reporter becoming the first woman ref, a lot of things weren't clear.
It was an uncomfortable, awkward exchange resulting in Keith expressing his frustration in a bad way. Once he brought up the league's lack of female refs, he was being sexist and should be criticized.
But this was just a blip on the radar of sexism in sports. And it's finally gotten to me. Sexism is basically encouraged in the four major sports. Why wouldn't Keith make those comments when the Hawks employ the Ice Crew, the literal skating definition of the objectification of women?
Frankly, I've thought for a long time the Hawks should get rid of the Ice Crew. It makes me embarrassed when the crowd roars as those women take the ice.
To make it worse, the Ice Crew was added in recent memory, which isn't that different from giving a new team a racially insensitive name. We are supposed to be past these things. I mean, I can't imagine that having women in short skirts and halter tops is the most efficient way to clean the ice. It's purely for men's sexual enjoyment.
I can understand cheerleading and dance teams to an extent—at least that's a performance. But no one shovels ice for fun.
And for a franchise that was lauded for having Brent Sopel take the Stanley Cup to Chicago's Pride Parade, it's "Mad Men"-y of them to have women to ogle during a family-friendly event, perpetuating all sorts of stereotypes.
How do you explain that to your kid? It reinforces the idea that women aren't valued when it comes to sports. Just ask Duncs about that.
You can argue the Ice Crew exists because the fans enjoy it, but there are a lot of terrible things fans would enjoy. It doesn't make it right.
But now the Hawks can do something to make a real statement and put a stop to this. It could only help pave the way for the first female ref.
Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor.
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