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Sexism in the NHL: Still a Thing

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In which Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, comforts us all by saying that sexism doesn't even exist in the league.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

During Game 3 of the Jets-Ducks series, Winnipeg Jets fans chanted "Katy Perry" in reference to Corey Perry. On Friday, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, responded to these chants when prompted by Jesse Spector of The Sporting News as to whether these chants would alienate female fans. His response? To say that those chants weren’t intended to be sexist and that they could be compared to calling a goalie a sieve. Fortunately, a woman-identified reporter named Sarah Kwak happened to be there to point out that "sieves don’t have feelings". Instead of acknowledging how problematic his remarks were, he simply said that he could not "stifle" remarks like that.

In other words, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, thinks women need to just take the joke. Instead of acknowledging the sexism that the league has institutionalized, Bettman stood by his comparison of women to an inanimate object. Instead of saying, "Hey, this chant is not an isolated incident, and it needs to stop!" and talking about the chants of "Cindy Crosby", "LA Queens", and "Sedin Sisters" as comparably disgusting, Bettman told a large portion of the NHL fan base to essentially get over it.

I have watched hockey for several years now. I have spent my birthday money on an LA Kings jersey that I could barely afford. I have spent money on NHL GameCenter so that I could watch as many games as possible. I have spent hundreds of dollars going to NHL games just because hockey has been an outlet. I am not alone in this experience. So many women love the NHL and put their money into it, because it has become their home away from home. So, when the literal commissioner of the NHL publicly says that sexist chants are okay, that the NHL does not condemn these words that emphasize that women have no place in sports, then what are women like me supposed to feel? Are we supposed to continue to support the NHL? Are we supposed to pretend that Varlamov and Voynov exist in a vacuum and that the NHL is not violent toward women? Are we supposed to go around and say that the NHL isn’t sexist, because they had a female goalie that one time?

Gary Bettman had a choice on Friday. He had the choice to further the status quo in which sexism has a place in hockey or to condemn the sexism and be the authoritative voice for change in the sport. Bettman chose the former, and, unfortunately for him, female fans of the NHL will not be silent like the inanimate objects that he compares them to.