Admittedly, the inspiration for this week’s editorial comes from an online petition that started circulating shortly after the Canadian men’s gold medal win at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships.
The petition, which has over 27,400 signatures on Change.org at the time of writing, raises a valid point-while the nation gathered round to watch the men win gold, where was the fanfare for the U18 women’s team, which went undefeated in round robin play en route to the silver medal?
Given the fact Erinsville’s Maddi Wheeler was a key member of that U18 team, the tournament was naturally one of interest for this reporter. In this age of online information, tracking the tournament wasn’t easy. When Googling stats, one had to be very specific, as most combination of search words such as ‘Canada+national hockey team+world juniors’ inevitably redirected to the men’s juniors.
Canada’s U18 women’s gold medal game against the US wasn’t broadcast on television. Fans wanting to watch the game had to make do with an online link that showed the game, devoid of any play-by-play or colour commentary. Simply the game with the sounds of fans cheering, skates on ice and pucks slap-shotted on net. Granted, some may argue that’s better than some of the announcers that typically call a game, but that’s another story.
Judging by the amount of traffic to the Beaver’s website on write-ups pertaining to Wheeler and Team Canada, there was considerable local interest. But it’s fair to wonder how many people in communities that don’t have one of their own on the team even knew this tournament was taking place.
Broadcasting the game wouldn’t only benefit those who are already fans, but it would grow the game as well. Canada’s female hockey players work just as hard as the males and in many cases arguably harder as they have the added struggle of finding access to competitive programs and opportunities. And while only a very select few men will ever get drafted to the National Hockey League, there’s at least that carrot out there for those who are really dedicated and athletically gifted. Even fewer opportunities exist for female hockey players to make a living playing hockey.
Showcasing Canada’s top U18 ladies would no doubt inspire other young girls to pursue the sport-even if it was just for the love of the game. It would also reward the young ladies who have put in the time and effort to represent their country on the world stage, putting forth an effort that should make us all beam with pride.