I am so baffled by this. Here’s what the Flyers got wrong in this Ice Girls situation: They – and by they I mean some corporate dolt from Comcast because Comcast has essentially taken over operations of Comcast Spectacor – overreacted to a loosely sourced report on an extremely liberal political website which quotes an anonymous Ice Girl who complained about her treatment as such.
I am 99% (47%?) sure I know who that former Ice Girl is, because she was pushing her story on a local writer who approached me about doing a post for this site back in January. [In hindsight, that was a missed page views bonanza.] Most of said Ice Girl’s claims focused on her boss, a guy whom we’ll call T, being a dickhead towards her and the other Ice Girls. Maybe that’s accurate. Maybe it’s not. The accusations – most of which I read verbatim before they were ever on Mother Jones – were about Ice Girls being asked to do exactly what they signed up for: being a public-facing representative of the team. With that, comes some sacrifices and asks that people in normal jobs don’t have to deal with. Are some of them about appearance? You bet. The Ice Girl claimed her boss suggested that she “invest in tanning” after a fan tweeted to her that she was pale. Was that a command? Was it a comment made to offer a reasonable solution to someone who might’ve lamented to her boss that she felt self-conscious about such a thing? We don’t know. But most of the other accusations of abuse – ranging from not being able to sit with her family at the Winter Classic (what?) to not being allowed to tweet as an Ice Girl – are hardly signs of unfair treatment… they’re the sorts of things expected of many employees everywhere and especially of public-facing employees of very public businesses. Teams have enough to worry about with their valuable players tweeting nonsense, imagine if they had to worry about every Ice Girl, Ice Guy, and marketing intern tweeting on behalf of the team? But despite that claim about Twitter, I easily found Tweets from T to said Ice Girl that were completely friendly and positive. He even retweeted her when she mentioned a Flyers charity event. So much for trying to suppress her opinion.
Is being an Ice Girl a great job? Probably not. But, newsflash: most jobs with sports teams suck. A lot of people want not a lot of positions. So they are often low-paid, not as glamorous as they seem, and come with awful hours, sometimes in less than ideal conditions. That’s a problem not unique to Ice Girls.
The Flyers’ mistake in all of this was hilariously overreacting to the Mother Jones report (and probably the backlash over the San Jose Sharks’ Ice Girls) and doing away with the girls completely.
But since Tuesday, Deadspin, Broad Street Hockey, and now Puck Daddy* (all sites and writers I enjoy and respect) have lined up with extremely liberal opinions on the ordeal. Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy posted an email exchange he had with Comcast Spectacor PR man Ike Richman in which Richman blew off requests for comment (a mistake). The consensus seems to be that the Flyers are sexist. “It’s edited with all the restraint of a teenage boy hoping for a boob flash in a PG-13 movie,” Wyshynski wrote of the video the Flyers played the other night. There are insinuations that the boos weren’t a representative sample of the whole fan base. That’s crazy. They were indeed a representative sample. All? No. But most? Yep. Are there people out there who are offended by the general concept of Ice Girls, cheerleaders, and good-looking newscasters? Of course. But I’d be willing to bet that many of them – the women, at least – have no problem sitting through a two-hour episode of The Bachelor filled with gratuitous shots of Juan Pablo rubbing his abs, or lusting over Claude Giroux or Mike Richards. That’s not to imply that women only watch sports to look at the guys. Far from it. Most of the female sports fans I know, and who read this site, are some of the best sports fans you will find. But it’s crazy to deny that a good portion of them enjoy, or at least don’t mind, the added benefit of athletes being mostly good-looking. Flip side: I enjoyed watching the Women’s World Cup. I also enjoyed Alex Morgan looking like she does. A twofer! Hell, I enjoy looking at Chase Utley.
From the beginning of time, men have liked looking at attractive women, women have liked looking at attractive men, men have liked looking at attractive men, and women have liked looking at attractive women. We’re all attracted to something. To pretend that we exist in a sexual vacuum is stupid. A majority of sports fans are men. What percentage they comprise is debatable. But from a strictly business standpoint, it’s a good idea to play to that majority. So if that means attractive women playing a tiny part in the show that is sports, then who cares? People need to stop acting like asexual beings. Girls who sign up to be Ice Girls know exactly what they’re signing up to do. It’s not as if the Flyers took girls from the marketing department and asked them to wear bikinis to work. That would be sexist. Being an Ice Girl is an at-will, paid position. A great gig? No, probably not. A cool experience? Mostly. And as one Ice Girl messaged to me: “I think people would forget that even though it was fun and the pay was low, it was still a job. We still had shit that needed to get done and properly.”
It’s a job, one that comes with expectations that are extremely obvious going in. And it’s weirdly maddening that sports bloggers can in one breath post a Chicago Blackhawks Ice Girl backing into a net cam (complete with video, GIF, and snarky commentary!)…
… and in the next deride the Flyers for editing a video with the restraint of a 13-year-old boy. It’s fun to get on soapboxes, but sometimes they can be slippery. America is so weirdly awkward when it comes to sexuality. Somehow over time it (sex, sexuality, whatever) has come to be viewed as an evil that it’s not. Other countries don’t have this problem. Go turn on TV in Europe sometime. In America we’re so damn desirous to be PC that some people have forgotten that they’re human. And this goes both ways. It’s not just about guys who like looking at Ice Girls. It’s about the topic of sexuality in general. We’re 13-year-old boys alright… because we get all bashful and giggly any time it comes up, not because we sometimes sprout random woodrows. At what point did it become sexist to be attracted to the opposite, or same, sex? Lighten up, people.