Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Women Finally Inducted Into the Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey is one of Canada's national sports.  It was a matter of national pride to win the Olympic gold medals on home turf.  Though I am not a fan of the sport per say, I do follow enough to know that the contributions of women are severely under appreciated. While the women's game is not as physical as the men's, there is no doubt that not only can women play this sport, they excel.  Today the first two women are going to be inducted into the hockey hall of fame. 

There are some that are upset that U.S. legend Cammi Granato and Canadian pioneer Angela James were chosen over hockey greats like Doug Gilmore or Pat Burns who is terminal, but that same reasoning could be used every year to ensure that women never get their day in the spotlight.  There is always a reason to exclude women when such action directly supports patriarchy.

Even as we celebrate the addition of these women into the Hockey Hall of Fame, we should recognize that the distance great distance that women still have to travel until we reach equality.  Even though there was no official ruling that kept women from being recognized The Hall of Fame did not feel it necessary to recognize women until today.  In any given year, a maximum of four players, two builders, and one on-ice official are inducted as members, however it should be noted that with this recognition comes the limitation of the number of women that may be added each year.  Women have been limited to 2 inductees every year, as though there is a shortage in the number of women that deserve to be recognized.  Perhaps it also stands as a sign that even though patriarchy is willing to recognize that women have greatly contributed to the support there still exists this irrational fear that equality really means a reversal of power roles.  

Granato represented America at every World Championship from 1990 to 2005. She captained the first U.S. Olympic women’s team in 1998, scored the first Olympic goal for the Americans and led her teammates to the first gold medal at that tournament. She won two Four Nations Cups, one World Championship and was awarded the 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy for exemplary service to U.S. hockey. (source)
To not include Angela James would have made it yet another example of hockey bypassing her achievements.  Some have gone as far as to compare James to Rocket Richard and Wayne Gretzky. James is a four-time gold medalist for Canada, at the Women's World Championships. She was Canada's leading scorer with eleven goals at the 1990 Women's World Championship and was an All-Star forward in 1992. Despite all of her success, she was left off the first Canadian women's hockey team at the Nagano Olympics, due to a personal conflict with head coach Shannon Miller.  This is a decision that remains controversial to this day.

James is the daughter of a single mother and grew up in Flemingdon Park. She is quoted by the CBC as saying, "We didn't have a car or a lot of money or anything like that. But we did have a ton of love in our house.  My mom never let the children go without." Even the poverty that she faced as a child was not enough to cause her to give up a sport she loved when she had difficulty getting ice time because of her gender.  There were not the kinds of opportunities for girls in hockey then that there are today and this meant James often had to play on boys teams.  Today, to the many young women that play hockey, James is a trailblazer.