By: ALLISON CLENETT
NHL playoffs continue and although no Canadian teams remain we will continue to see one familiar face during almost every game.
Don Cherry is a hockey icon. He hosts Coaches Corner on CBC. He is a former NHL coach and player for the Boston Bruins, that are still fighting for the Stanley Cup. To top it all off just over a month ago he set back standards of equality for female sports reporters.
“I don’t believe – and I really believe this – I don’t believe women should be in the male dressing room,” Cherry said on April 27.
It took little to no time for criticism to surface. The press and even Ron MacLean, co-host of Coaches Corner, were quick to speak out.
However Cherry’s comment does not stand alone. It was sparked by Chicago Blackhawks assistant captain Duncan Keith during an interview with radio reporter Karen Thomson, after an April 22 game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Blackhawks.
Keith became frustrated with the questions Thomson was asking and suggested that she become the first female referee if she thought a penalty went unnoticed.
“You can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya,” Keith said to Thomson.
There is controversy regarding whether or not this is a sexist comment.
Regardless of the controversy around whether Keith’s comment is sexist or not, it doesn’t change the status of Cherry’s comment.
The problem is not women in the dressing room. It is how they are treated in the dressing room.
Christiana Altamirano, a Carleton University journalism student and an aspiring sports-reporter, believes female reporters are prepared for this treatment.
“Female reporters know what they are getting into,” Altamirano says. “They are simply just there to do their job, and know that any possible comments are part of the job.”
MacLean pointed out this problem and believes that many hockey players take advantage of, and are sexist towards women reporters.
Cherry is blaming the women, saying that they should not be allowed in male dressing rooms because “some guys take advantage of it”. This is a classic case of blaming the victim rather than fixing the actual problem, which is sexist hockey players.
Banning women is unnecessary and would create further inequalities between men and women in the workplace. It would mean that men would be at a significant advantage to get jobs as sports reporters.
“If female reporters are not allowed in the men’s locker room, male reporters should not be allowed either, thus to keep the equal opportunity,” Altamirano says.
Limiting the number of female sports reporters will have further negative effects as well. It will mean fewer female role-models for young girls and the potential downward spiral of female involvement in hockey – as spectators and as players.
Banning only female reporters from professional dressing rooms because of comments like Cherry’s and Keith’s can be interpreted as the equivalent to saying that females know nothing about sports.
There is one aspect of Cherry’s comments that holds strong. He pointed out that male reporters are not allowed in women’s dressing rooms either. Equal opportunity for sports reporting has to be given to both males and females.
A solution to dressing room reporting needs to be decided for both male and female reporters. If that means moving all reporting out of the dressing room, then so be it. Sports reporting should be an equal opportunity no matter what.