Junior hockey team offsides with cheeky program cover

Neate Sager
Port Dover's provocative program cover (Sarah Doktor, Simcoe Reformer/Twitter)
Port Dover's provocative program cover (Sarah Doktor, Simcoe Reformer/Twitter)

Considering that their fanbase likely consists of parents with young, impression children, it's not entirely clear that the Port Dover Sailors read the room when they chose to depict "a prominent image of a scantily-clad female with her posterior hanging out" on the cover of the official team program.

Yes, really. Bold idea? Maybe. Unconventional? Sure. Nothing to do with why people would fork over some disposable income to watch the local Junior C hockey team? Absolutely. And when sex is used to sell a product with having any relation to it, generally that constitutes sexism, meaning the Sailors are getting more attention than they hoped.

From Monte Sonnenberg, a past National News Award-winning reporter:

Some are asking why there is a sexually-charged image on the cover and what that has to do with hockey.

John Lennox, president of the Sailors executive, says the cover is a nostalgic riff on sailors during the Second World War and their penchant for pin-up girls. Lennox says the cover references the Sailors' presence as a hockey club in Port Dover dating back more than 60 years.

Lennox said the club has had difficult seasons in recent years where wins were hard to come by. Many had written off the club, he said, so the executive decided to go with a bold graphic that projected a sassy attitude and a renewed commitment to excellence. Thus the statement to the right of the pin-up saying "Hey fans — the Sailors are back in town!"

"It was done to create some interest, and I guess it has done that," Lennox said. "We thought it was humourous. She is saying 'Hey fans - the boys are back in town.' " (Simcoe Reformer)

Face, meet palm. It is not funny when the group being represented, women, aren't laughing with the joke. The principle behind #notyourmascot, the hashtag adopted by those aiming to end the appropriation of aboriginal imagery in the sports industry, full applies here. Or put a simpler way, it's men deciding for women how they will be represented culturally, at the risk of having that trickle down to impressionable children. It's just bizarre since one would think the team would want to use their players as selling points.

On Monday, a Tweet on the team's official account directed at Simcoe Reformer reporter Sarah Doktor stated, "Some of us have been trying to get it changed ... Rather embarrassing to all our fan base." It's good to see the reaction hasn't been defensive. Sexism, however seemingly mild, holds back everyone in the sports world, female and male.

The ironic part is this comes while the Sailors, who represent a community of about 4,500 people located on Lake Erie, are having some on-ice success with a three-game win streak.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.