In my last blog, following severe injuries of two MN high school hockey players, I argued checking should be banned at all levels and for all hockey players. Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Rachel Blount wrote a piece title “Despite tragedies, hockey reformer finds resistance to change” where Hal Tearse,Minnesota Hockey Coach in Chief, is interviewed.
Banning checking would primarily affect male hockey, as checking is illegal in female hockey. In many sports rules differ for the male and female version. For example: Lacrosse-males wear more protective padding. Basketball-women play with a smaller ball. Tennis-women play 2 of 3 sets (in most circumstances) and men play 3 of 5 sets. In short, different rules set up the male version of the sport to be “the real” version while females are left to play a version; in which they don’t have to play as long, play with rules that “protect” them, and make the game easier. We are now 40 years post Title IX, I think females can handle it. Make one version of the game and make everyone play by those rules. This might help (some) people see women’s sport a real sport and advance gender equity. It might help people stop viewing the female version as “less than”, believe that females need protection, or that females are fragile and can’t sustain competitive effort as long as males. Making the rules equal might help people value women’s sport and female athletes in similar ways to their males peers.
Even if you don’t value girls’ and women’s sport, do you value the life, health and well being of females less than males? Is one person’s injury more important and newsworthy? In Minnesota right now, it appears this is the case.
You see, in short succession two young athletes were severely injured in hockey games following checks from behind. Jack Jablonski and Jenna Privette both currently have no feeling below the waist and remain in the hospital. Jablonski was injured first and just when we were about to resume “hockey as usual” Privette was injured.
The difference is the media treatment and public support for these two athletes has been drastically different. Google it.
Jablonski received calls from hockey coaches and players from all levels of play, celebrities tweeted support, MN Wild players visited him the hospital, a fund was set up, a logo was created and widely used as a badge (see pic on left) on Facebook and Twitter to show support, a “Support Jack Jablonski” Facebook page was created, fundraisers were organized all over the state, proceeds from games were donated, and Hockey Day Minnesota (Jan. 21, 2012), the annual hockey showcase that features high school games held outdoors on Lake Minnetonka, will be dedicated to Jack Jablonski’s family this year. In addition, The Wild, FOX Sports North and Wells Fargo will combine to host an all-day telethon beginning at 9 a.m., raising money for the Jack Jablonski Fund.
In the story announcing the Hockey Day Minnesota events, Privette was not even mentioned! Not one word.
Same injury. Same sport. Different sex of athlete.
The local print and broadcast media were all over the Jablonski story. I heard about Privette on Twitter from Mark Rosen (@WCCORosen). I’m not the only one who has noticed this disparity. In a small effort, people are being encouraged to support Privette’s recovery by wearing blue on Jan. 11. [which ironically I found out about on Twitter from Greg Litman (@GRLitman) who also works on WCCO]
If you Google “Jenna Privette badge”..the first image is the Jablonski badge. The second image is connected to Jabs’ badge (see image on right). A sad symbol of how the value of male sport and therefore male athletes is somehow greater than female sport and female athletes. If you Google Jenna Privette (as of 1/11/2012 at 9:07am) no stories about benefits or fundraisers, or calls, visits or tweets from famous people appear, with the exception of a “Support Jenna Privette” Facebook page. I’m sure the Privette’s need support too.
Come on Minnesota (and everyone else!) we can do better, and should do better. This is a challenge to the people organizing Hockey Day Minnesota. How about Hockey Day Minnesota be dedicated to BOTH Jablonski and Privette. Events that day feature both boy’s and girl’s games. How about having the girls’ game featuring Hopkins vs Minnetonka at 4:30 PM on Lake Minnetonka benefit and honor Jenna Privette? How about the proceeds from the telethon you are organizing be split between the Jablonski’s and the Privette’s? It is the right thing to do.