For a long while now, I've always thought of ice hockey and soccer as kind of connected.
Fans of hockey most closely align with that of soccer than of any other professional sport in America. There's a special dedication that soccer and hockey fans have to their team as opposed to a baseball or football fan (and don't even get me started on basketball fans). Hell, even the Blue Jackets have supporters groups. A very soccer thing making its way to Nationwide Arena.
And, I argue, the reason these fans are so passionate in a way that other sports' fans aren't (nothing against other sports, mind you) is the niche culture of the sport. Takeaway sports that have still yet to break through like lacrosse, rugby or cricket (three sports that, oddly enough, I consider to be some of my favorites), soccer and hockey both don't really have a foothold on a national landscape and, yet, we all know that one "hipster" soccer fan. Hockey fans are a bit more accepted, but still on the sports landscape in this country, are rather few and far between.
Having said all that, yesterday some news broke to further continue the unwritten connectivity of soccer and hockey - the U.S. Women's National Team announced that, until "fair treatment" and wages start to see themselves on the women's side of the game, the team is boycotting international tournaments beginning with the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Michigan. Oops, I can't say that state's name, can I?
This is not a new sentiment or stance, and its not any more comfortable to bring up or talk about now than it was when the USWNT of U.S. Soccer did something similar last spring.
Now, don't fret - I'm not here to offer up any answers. I consider myself knowledgable about women's sports but I am nowhere near knowledgable enough to talk about the ins and outs of equal pay and what are ultimately labor disputes that, while uncomfortable to be confronted with, are important to think about and ultimately talk about.
Here's how I see it: This is a tough argument to have because, honestly, there is no "right" answer. Yes, it's true that women's athletes - across all sports and honestly all nations - should have equal pay to their male counterparts.
Especially here in the U.S. where, in just about any sport, the Women are more successful than the men's side (with the exception maybe of basketball). But, unlike their male counterparts, there isn't a whole lot of national attention placed or love given to those players outside of World Cup or the Olympics.
So, which is more important? The results of the Women's National Teams on the international level, and the respect and recognition internationally that comes with four Olympic Medals and three World Cups or the revenue (or, in the eyes of some, the lack thereof) that is brought in compared to the Men?
Again, it isn't fun to think or talk about, but there's no doubt that it's an important discussion to have.
Columbus Blue Jackets News
- If you're the betting type, this news might be for you - the Blue Jackets are 12/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup this year. Also, they have the third-best odds to win the East at 13/2. Feel free to place a bet in my name.
- Do you remember the first Blue Jacket in team history? Elaine Shircliff does, and she remembers *name redacted* fondly.
National Hockey League News
- For further reading on the U.S. Women's boycott, I direct you to The Ice Garden. They did a story to highlight key points and linked to further reading. Very much worth your time.
- The Ice Garden also says that the Team USA boycott is about "more than hockey." Which is very true.
- This isn't actually NHL news either (maybe I need to re-name this section...), but our own Eric Seeds was at the ACHA DIII nationals in Columbus and has fallen in love with the South Florida Ice Bulls since they were able to get to Columbus, he decided to join the dark side and pen this recap for our pals at Raw Charge.
- It appears we know who will be hosting the 2018 Winter Classic. We also appear to know who will be participating in the contest. SPOILER ALERT: Columbus is, once again, left out in the cold.
- As a born and bred southerner, Pat Iverson spoke straight to my soul yesterday morning when he tells how pointless it is to point out how small attendance sizes are in the south.
- The NHL college free agent signing window is OPEN, and SB Nation has every signing for you here.
- Speaking of college hockey, the Hobey Baker Finalists are out.