An Open Letter to the National Hockey League

To the National Hockey League,

On Friday night I tuned in to watch the NHL All Stars Skills Competition. I was looking forward to the event, especially as I had learned that women from various hockey organizations were going to participate. I watched Kendall Coyne Schofield blaze her way through the fastest skater competition with awe. I was so proud of her, and of the NHL for making this possible.

It’s easy to imagine then, how hurt I was that the rest of the women’s participation was not covered, especially that of Brianna Decker, who beat Leon Draisaitl to come first in the premier passing event. Decker’s performance was not only cut from the broadcast, we as viewers were led to believe that Draisaitl had the best time.

By cutting these athletes from your broadcast, you are participating in the continued and systematic culture of sexism. Whether or not that was your intention is moot. You have shown the world that you would rather appease a few fans who hold onto outdated and unfair notions of what sports should look like, rather than creating a dynamic and inclusive world of hockey that anyone can enjoy.

If my unhappiness about this doesn’t move you, think about it this way: what message did you send to all of the children who were watching? To the girls, you sent a clear missive: you are and will never be enough. Even at your best, even if you are THE best, you will never be as valuable as a man.

And you certainly illustrated for young boys what the value of women is: not just that a female athlete couldn’t possibly measure up to them, but that if they do, it’s something to be ashamed of. Skill and gender are somehow mutually exclusive and by default, female is inferior.

This might be small change to such a huge franchise. But it’s important to me, and the many other fans, both men and women, who value openness, honesty, and, most importantly, equality.

I love hockey. It’s an amazing sport, and we are in the middle of an amazing era of the game. I know that the NHL can step up and be a franchise that practices what it preaches: that hockey is for everyone.

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