Ask most people nation wide this week who won the World Junior Hockey Championships and odds are good you’d hear a colourful recount of Canada’s gold medal goal and who scored it.
Ask as many people for a narrative of the Women’s World U18 Championships, played in Slovakia December 26 to January 2, and the comeback would be a whole lot different.
Canada cheered loudly for its male athletes. Armchair fans rejigged their routines to watch the games from the comfort of their living rooms. Epidemic excitement and flag-waving pride reverberated across the country.
The series was broadcast on TSN - as it should have been.
Turn again to the women’s series. Their goal equalled the men’s - they had their sites set bringing home gold. They worked their hardest and sacrificed much to prepare for a pinnacle contest of their young hockey lives, some for the first time, others who had been there before.
But we didn’t get to see the final which saw Canada play a nail-biting 2-1 OT match against the United States. (Apparently some fans did pick up the game on live-stream which was reported to be hit and miss.)
Canada came home with a silver medal, a victory in its own rite and an impressive reflection of our female player’s imposing skills on the ice.
Where were the big-name broadcasters ie: TSN, Sportsnet or CBC?
Yes, we did hear daily updates on scores and video clips along the way but minimal coverage doesn’t cut it. Not now, not ever.
Admittedly hockey involves a great deal of money whether at the amateur or pro level. There’s sponsorship, advertising etc.
But no one has to sell women’s hockey - it’s already a valued commodity in the minds of Canadian fans.
The sport rises well above the dollar, it’s about dignity and respect; all attributes that make Canadians and this country so powerful.
A lot of people missed an opportunity in not having the final women’s game available to fans in every nook and cranny of Canada.
It’s 2020 but women’s hockey continues the struggle for equal recognition to its male counterparts.
For the record: Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team has won a medal at every IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
Their record includes five gold (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019), six silver (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017) and one bronze (2018).
Is that not enough to justify equal or at least more exposure?
These women are role models for young female players not just at the national level but in all minor hockey organizations across Prince Edward Island.
There are scholastic opportunities in hockey, not to mention the day-to-day benefits of being part of a team that shares an equal goal. Leaders are born through involvement in sport, future coaches and mentors are created and friendships are formed that carry through to adulthood.
The rewards are infinite but young players need the visual to fuel their ambitions and create their own expectations.
Heather Moore is editor of The Eastern Graphic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org