First String, Second Fiddle: A Conversation on Women’s Hockey

| November 10, 2015 | 5 Comments

This is a joint post written by CS staff writers Vicki Saeed and Ellen Asermely

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

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Category: Campus Culture, featured, Sports, The (Sex)es

Vicki Saeed

About the Author ()

The brash speaking voice of a sea-hardened sailor and the softness of a velvet child. Two types of Brown and constantly talking about it. Catch me knitting in the sun and talking about social injustice/horror movie plot holes.

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Who woulda thunk(ed)? your mama woulda made a radical feminist like you. An sucha nice pretty face too!

  2. Mackenzie Morgan Mackenzie Morgan says:

    As much as I hate the discrepancy between the popularity and publicity of the men’s and women’s team, I admit that I am part of the problem. I have gone consistently to men’s games my whole time at BU and have never once been to a women’s game, even though I have known for years how good they are. The problem for me lies in the fact that I go to hockey games for the atmosphere and the camaraderie more than the game itself. I love the feeling of being a in a fully packed Agganis, cheering in sync with an entire group of people (well, they’re in sync I’m normally off beat). Its difficult because the lack of advertisement and publicity results in fewer people going, and then in many ways fewer people going keeps people from going. Thanks for highlighting some of the origins of this issue, Vicki and Ellen!

  3. Becky Specht says:

    Go women terriers ice hockey team Go!

    The suck bottom line is in the school’s recruitment numbers and attendance. There are more potential male recruitment that play hockey and more potential fir them to go Pro than for the women. So the puts theit time, energy and $$ into the team that can bring them the most good PR.

    • Becky Specht says:

      sorry for the typos. I should proofread before hitting send :)

      • Vicki Saeed Vicki Saeed says:

        We’ll just chalk the typos up to passion about the topic. And it really is a shame that once again it boils down to which team is going to be more profitable in the long run, but once again it goes back to this athletics dilemma: Women’s sports tend to be less profitable/well-received; because of this, women’s sports receive less marketing and/or funding; this dissuades girls from aiming to become professional athletes, leading to a decrease in prospective professionals at the collegiate level; women’s college athletics are less profitable. It’s a vicious cycle.

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