The ‘Wo’ Factor in a Men’s Sport

I have wanted to do a post on the National Women’s Hockey League for some time now, but honestly I had no clue where to begin. Being that I am all for anything that is going to advocate and promote the sport of hockey, it was natural and part of my conscience to think this was very good for the sport. I still didn’t feel compelled enough to write based only on my presumptions. I needed more information.

If you are living under a rock, then you probably haven’t heard of the National Women’s Hockey League. It is the first paid professional women’s hockey league in the world. There is also a league in Canada that originated in 2007, however, the players are not paid.

Currently there are four teams in the NWHL with locations in New York, Buffalo, Connecticut and Boston. The league held a tryout before the start of the season in which any eligible female player could attend. The NWHL made hockey history by playing their first regular season games this past Sunday.

As I did more research there have been several articles questioning the league. Will the players actually get paid? Where is the money coming from? Is the league sustainable after Year 1? As it is great to ask questions, what ever happened to putting your faith behind someone with a vision and purpose?

Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and ‘Doc’ Gibson all had visions. Much like the NWHL’s commissioner Dani Rylan, I am sure these three people met some ridicule. If it wasn’t for Ford, Gates and Gibson’s perseverance, the world would have waited longer for automobiles, computers and professional hockey.

At this present time, we need not to rejoice an athlete like Rhonda Rousey, while at the same time questioning a women’s professional hockey league. We cannot question and nit-pick the vision that Ms. Rylan created and transformed to reality. We need to praise her for her efforts as an ambassador for the sport.

When that puck dropped on Sunday, it ignited a fire in every female hockey player’s soul. At that very moment they understood that getting paid to play hockey is a dream they could make come true. Aside from the financial aspect it also gives women of all ages players that they can emulate, who understand them more so than a Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.

Does it really matter where the money is coming from? You have players running around in football pads and hockey helmets playing in the Legends Football League without pay. You have players in the CWHL that are required to pay a fee to play. Has it ever occurred that maybe these hockey players just have a true passion and love for the game? In the end the money doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is fair and equal treatment of the players and that the fans are enjoying themselves. Everything else is arbitrary.

The league could fold after a single year, but this is a moot point. There have been multiple leagues throughout the professional ranks in hockey that have folded after a year or two. There have also been many leagues which were sustainable, achieved growth and stood against the test of time. Why is there so much scrutiny against a league with an abundance of great players and a niche that has not been tapped?

Even if the league were to fold after this season it can only be seen as a success. Worst case scenario is that it allows another visionary down the road to improve upon this foundation and create a better, more sustainable product. It probably will not get to this, however, as the current commissioner exudes a multitude of confidence and will be tenacious in seeing that the NWHL isn’t a one hit wonder.

Everything from the design of the jerseys with nameplates on the bottom, to the class act of players that are on the ice, this league is poised for success. I wish all the players, the best of luck and would love to see a team come to the Midwest!

For more information on the National Women’s Hockey League, their website can be found by clicking here.

Also, be sure to check out this short movie about US Women’s Hockey Olympian Hilary Knight.

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