Hockey players’ action speaks louder than any word in their league’s name.

The Premier Hockey Federation has been dropping the puck for professional games for going on seven years. Now it’s lifted the ‘W.’

On September 7, the women of the National Women’s Hockey League called us all out and, most audaciously, shown us what’s what by changing the name of their league to Premier Hockey Federation (PHF)

From now on, the only “W’s” they’ll be getting will be on the ice.

‘Woman-Good’ No More

The time has come – indeed, it has long since passed – when athletes should be judged as anything but just that, athletes, without gender qualifiers or asterisks as part of their team and league names.

Athletes. Full stop.

Not women, not men, but athletes who happen to be women and men. 

The Premier Hockey Federation’s press release about the name change calls it “…a monumental move in professional women’s sports.” 

Agreed.

Madison Packer, who is the captain of the Metropolitan Riveters, one of league’s first players and its second-leading all-time scorer, said it well. 

“It’s important to get away from the narrative that, yeah, they’re good, but they’re ‘woman-good.’ Understanding that we can play the game, we can compete at a high level, this is about recognizing that regardless of gender, athletes are talented. That’s empowering as an athlete. You don’t have to label yourself as a female.”

Inspiring, too, is the outstanding video the PHF released:

Click here or on the image to watch the video on Twitter.

“No longer should the narrative be focused on gender to qualify the skill, the grit, the talent of the athletes,” the voiceover says. “Gone are the days when athletes in the league are deemed great women hockey players. We are great hockey players. Period.”

Leveling At All Levels 

But not just for professional sports, but for athletics at all levels. The time has come – indeed, it has long since passed – when we should no longer hear about the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) or the Lady Volunteers from the University of Tennessee.

If it’s absolutely necessary to designate gender, then perhaps the approach of U.S. Soccer is the way to go. Its teams are U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNST) and U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNST). That, at least, is an attempt at equality.

But then we should also have the Men’s National Basketball Association (MNBA) and the WNBA. And back to soccer, rather than Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), we should have MMLS and WMLS.

But the point is dropping gender entirely.

“Lift the ‘W’” and we recognize and celebrate all athletes for their talent and physical skills in their chosen sports. No gender qualifiers. No asterisks. No ifs, ands or yeah buts.

Taking the Shot

In writing they say “show don’t tell.” In religion they say deities “help those who help themselves.” And in life they say “actions speak louder than words.”

In other words, talk is cheap. It’s what one does in the face of uncertainty or in taking risks that reveals true mettle. 

And make no mistake – right now, in the world we live in, standing up and demanding equality can be risky. It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s the way it is. In this case, specifically, it’s especially so for a relatively new sports league that could still fail. 

Even so, these women have stepped up, laid it all on the line and charged ahead. 

“Lift the ‘W.’” Drop the puck. 

For these impressive athletes, it’s time.

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1 Comment

  1. Small point of observation:

    And make no mistake – right now, in the world we live in, standing up and demanding equality can be risky. It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s the way it is.

    Actually, that’s the way it’s always been and likely will always be. The “keep in your place” crowd is never accepting of the “other” they’ve created in their own mind,

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