Saturday, February 20, 2010

WOMENZzzzzzzzzzzzz hockey

Allow me to preface this by saying with all the earnestness at my command that I appreciate and respect how far women's hockey has come in a relatively short period of time. I've played hockey against women and had my jock handed to me by opposite gender rivals whose skill and fitness levels were both far superior to mine. But compared to what the men bring to the barn, the calibre of women's hockey does not justify its inclusion in the Winter Olympics.

Part of the problem is the lack of parity. If current tournament statistics are anything to go by, there's a huge discrepancy between the two "traditional" women's hockey powerhouses - Canada and the US - and the rest of the Olympic field, down to and including last place China. Yes, China. I'm watching the Chinese play Switzerland, and in a milieu that's supposed to be celebrating athletic excellence on a global scale, it's nothing short of an embarrassment. That's hardly surprising. Even the Canadian and American women play at a tangibly plodding pace, and they're the so-called elite.

It may be sexist to use gender comparison as a yardstick, but it's also the most accurate and realistic means of measuring athletic prowess. If Roger Federer is the best tennis player in the world(and he is), he is the standard by whom all other tennis players should be measured, male or female. And in the world of tennis, there's not a lot that separates the men from the women. Federer would consistently beat either Williams sister but he'd have his hands full in the process, just as Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie would give Tiger Woods a decent run for his money on the golf course, especially if he were preoccupied with trying to convince them to go skinny dipping in a water hazard. I've also seen some kick-ass women's baseball players who can bring the heat, field a hot smash on a short hop and either lay off a nasty curveball or take it the other way at a more than respectable level of competition.

At the Olympic level, too, the women as often as not provide the most prolific performances and dramatic moments in figure skating, speedskating, cross country, downhill and freestyle skiing, luge and skeleton. (To the uninitiated and disinterested, curling is boring regardless of gender.)

Hockey, however, is a different beast. The physical nature of the sport and the sheer speed and skill at which it's played at the elite men's level represent a combined circumstance that exposes the women's game as less than world class. That's a brutal assessment, but anyone who watched the Switzerland-China snoozefest will recognize it as brutally honest.

6 comments:

  1. I've seen some Canada-US women's hockey and I found them to be a very entertaining games.

    Sure it looks like pre-junior mens hockey, but at the National level I enjoyed watching and cheering for them.

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  2. Women's hockey is in its infancy. This is what, their third Olympic games? Give the countries a few years to develop some parity, jesus.

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  3. At the least the ladies look organized on the ice. Unlike the men's team during their game against the Swiss.

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  4. I prefer by far women hockey that is a emerging sport than a NHL boosted Olympics...

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  5. Ted, I think Women's hockey is fine, if you are looking for the physicalities you see in the mens sport you are in for a long game, but I think for what it is the skill is generally there, I kind of like watching the plays take shape, the stick handling and plays without the physical play clouding all of it, there is no where near as much clutching and grabbing and they are allowed to skate more openly than in the mens game.
    That said I think the biggest thing that is holding back womens hockey is the parity. there is none, its right where Mens basketball was when they opened it up to the pros, you knew who was winning gold before the games even started. Its that way now with Womens hockey..its Team Canada or Team USA, who doesn't win gold, gets silver.
    Maybe the women's game needs a pro league to help the talent level? It doesn't have to be a multi million/billion dollar league like the mens but maybe something on the scale of the Indoor Lacrosse League just to give the good players a place to play that features the best. The talent will be there eventually give the rest of the world time to catch up.
    Loved the site BTW, found it through Freddie P

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  6. Womens Hockey is good..

    and has made its place..

    better than broom ball..right guys?..

    Brian.

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