Shout it Out Aloud!

Thursday July 20 2017


 I write the following under a constant barrage. Football after football lands across the sport news field. As we approach the third decade of the 21st century the Australian Football League has discovered Women. Not only do they watch the game and make good hamburgers in the club kitchen they can actually play sport!       


For those of you from outside my home country the ‘AFL’ is the prevailing sporting giant of Australia. It is what is called the ‘Indigenous Code’ of football.  This year they took a fistful of money out of their broadcast rights bucket and threw it at the marketing department. It created a marketing and promotional bonanza, the AFLW, or girls playing aussie rules. There was not a spare soapbox to be found. Even before a game had been played there were reports of dissention over pay deals for the players.


This irritated me. Australia is very much the Galapagos Islands of professional sport. We don’t really fit into the global sporting landscape. Factors that don’t really come into the equation on other continents suddenly make a big deal in Oz. Of course there is the reverse effect.


And my irritation had nothing to do with women playing sport, or being good at it. I can proudly say as a male that I have been beaten in open play by a woman and been given a wack on the way through. I did try to wack her back but she was an ex-Olympian and I am just an ex. The other person who calls me ‘ex’ didn’t miss either.


What irritated me most was the lack of response from Hockey. And why did this irritate me? Because I can’t think of another team sport that has cared so little about gender as Hockey. That’s right, cared so little. I always took it for granted that women played elite hockey. I was honesty shocked to find out that Women only competed at the Olympics for the first time in 1980. But not as shocked to find out that Women essentially voted against it previously. And for perhaps understandably good reasons at that time. But if this is a bandwagon why isn’t Hockey out there leading the media pack trail. Cause we bloody well have been leading the way for the last thirty years at least!


I have to be careful here. Hockey covers many different spiritual and cultural beliefs. But as far as I can figure they are not in the official rulebook. That appears to be all about feet and five-metre stuff. There’s nothing, as far as I can tell, about beliefs beyond the white lines.


So why is the game not shouting its diversity credentials from the highest point it can find? The elite level that international hockey is played at by both men and women is unrivalled by any other team sport. As far as I can tell there is no real gender barrier in Hockey.


 Of course diversity is about more than gender. Do you like falling asleep with boys or girls? I have never met anyone in Hockey that really cared. Well, not cared as such, a couple of team mates did mention the entire Netherlands Women’s team in a sauna, but that was not Hockey related. If I have played with a gay man I wouldn’t know, cause no one ever hit on me. Which is a bit of a slap really because I think I am a good-looking fella. (Ed: yeah, no, not a all). As for female club mates it appears sexuality isn't an issue with knocking me back.


It strikes me that Hockey has never had to speak up about diversity because it intrinsically is diverse. Being part of the Hockey family has always been based on playing Hockey. Issue’s that other sports struggle to come to terms with or can’t even grasp the size of, Hockey takes in its stride. But we are just so blasé about it the rest of the sports world just takes no notice.


I am one of the biggest sinners when it comes not caring. I actively care that I don't care about the things I am told I should care about. Or some crap like that my therapist mentioned. Seriously. ‘Can you trap?’  ‘No’  ‘I can teach you’. That is about as personal as any Hockey conversation should be.  And because Hockey does not care, and actively does so, we appear as if we don’t care. I am sure the Good Doctor understands a paradox.


Hockey Tip No 003: Not wearing a 'protector' during a game or at training is a recognised form of contraception, albeit rather random and potentially permanent
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