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CBC announces ‘While the Men Watch Hockey Night,’ sets off backlash over sexism

Harrison Mooney
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While the Men Watch

"While the Men Watch" is a live, sports talk show for women. Hosted by Lena Sutherland and Jules Mancuso, the program follows the discussion of two women watching sports "from a woman's point of view including everything from interpreting the rules of the game to coaches in need of a makeover." Apparently, it's been called ESPN meets "Sex & The City."

And it's coming to CBC for the Stanley Cup Final, an announcement that has triggered some serious backlash in the hockey community, especially after an introductory post on the program at the CBC's website. From the CBC:

As two women married to sports fanatics, there was really no escaping hockey on TV - especially during playoffs.  As our men were glued to the game, we were on the phone talking to each other about what we saw on the ice in a way that was completely different than what our guys or the real announcers were saying.  Why were the players getting a seat and a drink in the penalty box if it's supposed to be a punishment?  And how exactly did that coach pick out a brown suit and tie combo four sizes too big?

After rigging up an audio stream from our living rooms, we started broadcasting our "girl talk" version of commentary on all the finer points of hockey, football, baseball, basketball and yes - even golf.

What the what? This is an absurdly poor idea. It's 2012. The hockey world is full of women who not only watch and understand hockey (Whoa! Just like men!), but do standout work reporting on hockey, from Katies Baker and Strang to Helene Elliott to Cassie Campbell and Andi Petrillo, who work for the same CBC that will be bringing us "While the Men Watch Hockey Night."

Needless to say, the reaction to this has been harsh.

Steve Lepore spells it out nicely:

Steve Lepore

And Winging it in Motown takes it a step further, because -- get this -- he actually knows a woman that likes hockey. (Crazy!)

Winging it in Motown

And Sportsnet Magazine's Shannon Proudfoot -- an actual, honest-to-goodness, female hockey fan (she should be in a museum!) -- weighed in as well:

Shannon Proudfoot

Sarah Sprague turns the sexism on its head and points out the also absurd notion that all the men are watching hockey:

Sarah Sprague

And here's Ellen Etchingham with a valuable counterpoint. Before you get all bent out of shape about what these two women are doing, recall that assuming they represent all women is just as dumb as assuming any male sports analyst with whom you disagree represents all men.

Ellen Etchingham

Although I'd argue it isn't so much about what the women of "While the Men Watch Hockey Night" say as what their hiring says about the CBC's opinions of female hockey fans.

One assumes this controversy won't go away overnight. We'll have more on this Thursday. In the meantime, is this sexist, or incredibly sexist?

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