In June, Mother Jones ran a piece on NHL ice girls in which women who wore the skimpy orange of the Philadelphia Flyers described the job as “torture,” having to sneak food at the Winter Classic because they weren’t allowed to eat in public.
The team was embarrassed, and decided to do the complete opposite thing than what they should have done, which is to replace all of its women on the co-ed team with men.
The 12-man group debuted at the Flyers’ preseason game at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night, and the reaction wasn’t pretty (video via Deadspin):
Granted, it’s Philly, and booing comes as naturally as breathing. But the Ice Boys skated out three times in the first period and were booed thrice, according to the Star-Ledger.
We’ve covered the Ice Girls issue several times in the last year on Puck Daddy, including Melissa Geschwind’s terrific piece on their “institutional sexism.” The fact that the Flyers eliminated their female eye-candy is laudable. The fact that they did so by getting rid of all the women who worked for them instead of having, you know, an a co-ed team that all wore track suits is insane.
Probable scene from the Flyers marketing meeting:
“Hey, maybe we should have scantily clad men along with our scantily clad women on the ice crew?”
“THIS IS A FAMILY ENVIRONMENT SIR! HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST THIS SALACIOUSNESS!”
“OK we’ll just get rid of the women.”
Lessons are being learned all around the league about the use of Ice Girls. The San Jose Sharks received backlash for having midriff-baring outfits for their women and full track suits for their men. The Florida Panthers dropped their cheerleaders.
But decisions like the one by the Flyers reminds us of the overreactions we’ve seen over the years to things like Title IX, when colleges and high schools dramatically eliminated sports like wrestling while pouring money into football and basketball. It’s a “look what your demands for equality have forced us to do!” move.
And it’s something that deserves jeers from all of us, beyond the Flyer fans’ lament over their lost eye-candy.