As the Winter Olympic Games come to a close, I reflect on a story that stood out to me more than many others. Although I will be recapping later about all the other fun and crazy stories of our family’s trip to Vancouver and Whistler, I want to separately talk about the obvious comparison of women’s ice hockey and olympic softball.
When I was first asked by reporters in Vancouver my thoughts on if women’s ice hockey should be eliminated because North America is so dominate, I was hit with a huge array of emotions from 8 years ago when this question was first raised to me about softball. Instead of answering the question, I had questions of my own I wanted to fire back: Does anyone ask Michael Phelps if his dominance in swimming should eliminate HIM from swimming at the Olympics? And the slew of other teams that have also dominated throughout the Olympics (ie USA women’s basketball, Chinese table tennis)? And since when is dominance at an Olympics looked down upon? Since when do we punish those who have trained and worked harder their whole lives for one ultimate dream and goal: dominance on the biggest stage ever, the Olympic Games?
Ugh. I don’t understand. These questions are always met with agreement and “You’re absolutely right”, but then why are the questions still there? Why are they first asked of softball and now of ice hockey? If I were to be in charge of the question-asking, I would be directing the questions toward countries like Russia, where we all know they have the right training, facilities and equipment for their men’s ice hockey team who has done well for decades, but their women’s team was slaughtered by the US in pool play last Tuesday 13-0?
The accountability should never fall on the athletes of sports where the Olympic Games are the pinnacle of their athletic career. Isn’t this what the Olympics are about? A place for an athlete, sport and country to shine when no other place/event could provide them that much light?
That’s what I thought. But then the IOC took softball out of the Olympics and have still yet to give us a consistent reason. And now they might consider the same fate for women’s ice hockey when the sport, like softball, has only had 4 Olympics to let it truly grow.
I love the Olympics, there is nothing better. That is why every young girl who has a dream, whether that be softball or hockey, should have the chance to realize that dream at an Olympic Games. So please, stop with the questions. Let’s praise these women like we would any other athlete (Lance Armstrong, Shaun White, Michael Phelps) and make sure they stay to continue the best of what the Olympics are about.
Love it, Dream it, Live it!
Jessica Mendoza #2