7PM on Saturday evening. The lights in Agganis are dimmed. The stadium is packed, 7,000 seats filled with screaming fans all ready for that magical phrase: “Let’s play hockey!” The spotlights dance over the darkened seats as a score to rival that of 300 blares over the speakers and a montage of your BU Terriers plays on the Jumbotron. This is the experience that is packaged and sold as BU Hockey.
A block over, there is another side of BU Hockey, one that often gets overlooked in favor of our more recognizable Terriers. At 3PM on any given Sunday, the puck drops at Walter Brown Arena (a feature of campus that very few seem to know exists). On the ice, you’ll find the incredibly talented women of BU’s other hockey team. There is no montage, there’s not even a Jumbotron. Many of the cheers are coming from Section 6, where the hardest working pep band in all of college athletics sits, and – despite the low cost of tickets – you’d be hard-pressed to find Walter Brown anywhere near sold out.
So what’s the difference between the two teams?
Both are comprised of extremely hardworking student athletes. Both teams take the ice and give it their all against their opponents. Both teams are united under the label of BU Terrier.
However, they might not be so equally represented under the blanket of BU Hockey. Many of you have probably seen it in your inbox. The inevitable email from Agganis Arena telling – no, imploring - you to ACT NOW. To reserve your tickets to see your Boston University Terriers take the ice against some faceless threat to our title. You might have even, like the authors of this post, received an email about an autograph session. An autograph session to meet a guy who might even sit in front of you in your Modern Presidency class (I’m talking to you, Nick Roberto). And not to say that we’re begrudging the men’s team for the publicity they receive. Being in band and attending hockey games on a weekly basis (sometimes multiple games a week), we’ve watched the men win night after night, advancing all the way to the Frozen Four last season.
The problem is not the advertisements themselves, but rather the imbalance between the men’s advertisements and the women’s (or rather, the lack thereof). We’ve seen the emails, heard the announcements at other BU Athletic events, even seen reminders on the napkin holders in the dining hall. The face of BU Hockey is BU Men’s Hockey. Even on social media, the men’s team lays claim to the handle “terrierhockey,” while the women operate under “buwhockey” (we know that “bumhockey” looks like “bum hockey,” but come on).
And this is only the tip of the injustice iceberg. The women’s team consistently performs on a level that might even surpass that of the men’s team (of course, going on a year to year basis). They’ve won four straight Hockey East titles (and five of the last six). They’ve also, in the past six years, advanced to the NCAA Tournament (which is an amazing feat in itself). So if this is true (and it is), then why does the women’s team play to an empty Wally B? Forget Wally B, why don’t they have the numbers to play in Agganis? Forget Agganis, why are we not receiving emails on the daily about our fearless and fearsome lady Terriers and their feats on the ice? Even at the Beanpot Tournament, the women were playing at Harvard, while the men took the ice at TD Garden.
Who is to blame for this unequal duality? Do we blame the promoters at both Agganis and Wally B for allowing this unequal representation to go on for the ten years since both the inception of the women’s team and the men’s move to the then-new Agganis? Do we blame the fans for not showing up in the same numbers to boost women’s ticket sales, thus allowing them to make the move to Agganis? Do we question the amount of funding that each team receives, especially given the stark contrast in their playing environments? Or do we shift the blame onto the University itself, and wonder how a Division 1 women’s hockey team has only been in existence for ten years at such a longstanding institution?
Despite the answers to these questions, or the number of people who show up to Wally B on any given weekend, we know the women’s team will continue to play their hearts out no matter who’s watching.
Featured photo credit: Vicki Saeed