Friday, March 19, 2010

The Female Hockey Fan: CBJ-style

Everyone has an opinion, including me. I also have the platform to express my opinions, which is something I do not take lightly. As a result, I decided not to rush out & blog about my initial reaction to the Blue Jackets' latest promotion. I wanted to reflect on it, think it through & sleep on it. But my reaction a day later, if anything, is even stronger. Perhaps being a successful woman who is a part of a male-dominated workforce makes me a bit more sensitive to stereotypes about women being less knowledgeable than men.

Plain & simple, folks... the Columbus Blue Jackets' official stance on female hockey fans is that they do not know hockey.

ster·e·o·type (stěr'ē-ə-tīp', stîr'-) n.
1. A conventional, formulaic, and oversimplified conception, opinion, or image.
2. A generalization, usually exaggerated or oversimplified and often offensive, that is used to describe or distinguish a group.

The good news? The Blue Jackets are FINALLY offering their first "ladies' night" event! The bad news? It is Hockey in Heels night - complete with Hockey 101. Yes, really. Check it out: http://bit.ly/aHXiAV.

Okay, so let's look at this objectively.
The Blue Jackets are trying to grow their female fan base. Terrific! But, are the Blue Jackets Marketing Think Tank actually attending the games? Are they looking around the stands to see who is actually attending games? Do they only see men? I have attended most of the home games since opening night on October 7, 2000 - when I look around the stands, I see mostly families. I have no data to prove or disprove this, but I would venture to say that the crowds at a typical Blue Jackets game are 60% male/40% female. But they want to grow the female fan base. Wonderful!

So how can they do this? They already have the CBJ Rush program for any females in schools, so apparently they aren't targeting these women. There is already an arena half filled with "family women" (moms & grandmas), so there is no need to target them either. So that leaves single, out-of-school women...correct? How can the CBJ get THESE women into hockey games? Hey - how about appealing to their "puckbunny-ness" (isn't that really all this demographic is? So thinks the CBJ...) Voila! Hockey in Heels! And how can they actually teach them that hockey is a real sport and not just that group of sweaty men on the ice they are attempting to hook-up with? Voila! Hockey 101!

Another bonus: Alex Ovechkin will be there to witness all the newly hockey-smart women in Columbus!

The biggest bonus of all: Women get a free t-shirt! I wonder if it will incorporate the CBJ logo & a high-heeled shoe? Or, better yet, they can go with the ever-popular "Make your own dinner - I'm going to the Blue Jackets game" shirt that can currently be found in the Blue Line. One more shining example of the Blue Jackets' respect for the female fan.

Way to go, Blue Jackets.

Now, I know perfectly well that the intent of this program was not to insult women. I just cannot fathom why they would have numerous "Guys Night Out", "Family 4-Packs", etc. for promotions, yet choose the one & only female-base event to hold a "Hockey 101." I mean, seriously - wouldn't a Hockey 101 benefit a family with children the most? So that Central Ohio children are exposed to as much hockey knowledge as possible from a young age? What a wonderful family experience that could be. But the CBJ thinks that it is better used on female fans.

Hopefully they correct their collective view of fans before they try to expand their diversity promotions any further.

I welcome any other well-reasoned opinions in the attempt to get an intelligent dialogue on this topic. I also know that the CBJ are not the first hockey team to use the "Hockey in Heels" term for a promotion - but that doesn't make it any less stereotypical.

Many of you will think that this isn't a big deal, and that I am making too much out of it - you are entitled to that. Many fellow ladies aren't offended by this program at all and think it is a good idea - they are entitled to that as well.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

Go Jackets! Tame the Wild! :)

Until next time...
PuckeysMom :)

8 comments:

  1. Why does this have to be anything besides the Blue Jackets trying to bolster their fan base by looking at segments of the population that typically don't consider themselves to be hockey fans?  Sure, this event may not be something in which you're interested, but that doesn't mean others aren't.  Not every event or promotion can appeal to every single person out there.  I really cannot believe that those in marketing said, "Hey, I've got this great idea.  Women are stupid, so let's hold this event where we totally play into that.  Won't that be fun?"  There really are plenty of women who don't enjoy or understand hockey, and feel it's nothing more than a glorified testosterone-fest.  This is who the CBJ are targeting with this promotion, and because you're already a fan and love the CBJ, you're not part of this group.  Deal with it.  The CBJ is going to do things that don't appeal to you, and while it may be hard to believe, people do enjoy things that you don't.  It doesn't mean they have some sinister ulterior sexist motive.    The more fans the CBJ can create, the better, in my opinion.

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  2. "The CBJ is going to do things that don't appeal to you, and while it may be hard to believe, people do enjoy things that you don't." No... I don't believe it. Haha!

    "Anonymous" - I think you missed the entire point of the blog, but I do appreciate your feedback.

    Have a lovely day - GO JACKETS!! :)

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  3. Yaaaarrrggg. I just screwed up and deleted my rebuttal. Instead of typing it all again on my phone, please just trust that it was witty, poignant, and would have totally swayed your opinion. ;)

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  4. In that case - who wants to go to Hockey in Heels with me?? Hahaha!

    Look, really - every point you made, I also mentioned in my blog. Of course the Blue Jackets didn't actively attempt to debase women. That doesn't lessen the truth that - generally speaking - they think that women don't understand hockey. And that is a poor assumption for them to make. Of course there are women who don't know hockey. Are these women going to attend one game and become Hayley Wickenheiser? No. Are they going to become season ticket holders? Highly doubtful. Are they going to regularly attend CBJ games? Maybe, but it is more likely that they will probably go to no more than 1-2 games per season. Is that the goal of the CBJ with this promotion? Seems like a complete waste of a ladies event. Besides, where are they even advertising this event? It seems that you have to be seeking out hockey to find the event information (Twitter, CBJ site, etc.) So how exactly are they targeting the non-hockey female segment of the population?

    And as to one final point of the former comment - my interest level in a promotion is irrelevant. Can you imagine the outrage if the CBJ stereotyped an ethnic group with a promotion? Gender stereotyping is no different.

    You expressed your opinion and I expressed mine - and please feel free to continue. It turns out that we view things differently, and that is okay. :)

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  5. You're right, you did address pretty much every point I made in my first comment, but regardless, I still disagree.  Such is the nature of opinions.  Ultimately I don't think I have so much a problem with what you've expressed, as a general frustration with people blowing things out of proportion.  I'm not speaking specifically to you, just in general.  It just seems to me that many people are trying to force a deeper motive into everything that anyone else does, and it irritates me.  I guess I took that out on this blog, and that was unfair.

    More to the point, there is a fine line between stereotyping and aiming for a specific demographic.  I don't think they've crossed this line, however I can see based on your reaction that they're dangerously close, at the very least.  It almost seems to be a less than perfectly thought out knee-jerk attempt to bolster dwindling attendance, which ultimately has been caused by the team's performance (which is a whole other topic unto itself), by trying to sell a few more tickets to one game.  Like maybe a brain-storming session that should have simmered a while longer before being executed. 

    To me it's less of an issue of gender stereotypes as it is a well intentioned plan that was poorly received. 

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  6. SO I guess that means the Caps and the Pens think the female fans of those team are stupid also .. Because they both hold the same kind of even each year

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  7. I addressed in my blog that the CBJ isn't the only team to hold Hockey in Heels events. And I don't recall saying that any team thinks that female fans are stupid.

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  8. This is actually their second or third one. I went to the one last year, along with several women who either play or are active hockey moms. The guy doing the main talk was a marketing guy who knew almost nothing about hockey. He even gave out a booklet that explained a shin pad gets worn on your leg! Luckily the second speaker was Tyler Wright, who was a bit surprised by the level of questions he got. I think he expected a bunch of fluff chicks, not serious hockey fans. But he got right down to answering real questions, and didn't talk down to us. Hopefully the CBJ learned their lesson from last year and wont' think all the women are there just because they think the players are cute.

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