A Woman’s Perspective on the Morgan Rielly “Controversy”.

I wasn’t planning to write this article. I tend to stay away from topics that will cause endless debate and anger with no real intention for a solution. However today I feel the need to address something that, due to my gender, is very close to my heart. I love sports. I love to talk about sports. I know more about hockey than many of the men in my close circles, and they know it. As much as I want to believe that we as a society have progressed to the point that your gender shouldn’t and doesn’t exclude you from certain fields of work, recent events have reminded me that we haven’t.

I am very proud to know some men who don’t discriminate against women, who don’t view women as weak and who encourage women to follow their dreams. These men will stand by us and cheer us on. And I appreciate them for it. However, no matter how supportive a man can be, he can never truly understand the stereotypes that go along with being female, in particular those of us trying to make it in sports writing and broadcasting. But again, I greatly appreciate those men who stand up and refuse to accept any sort of sexist behavior. We need many more like you.

This very website published an article in which a male writer expressed his thoughts on what Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said, and the subsequent reaction to it. Now one thing I can admit that bothers me about social media, is that people seem to wait in the weeds for a small morsel to lunge at and create controversy over. If there’s something to get mad at, or be offended at, you can bet there will be keyboard warriors out there ready to pounce. I can understand the perspective of people trying to calm the masses, and trying to pour some water on the fire. Do we overreact to almost everything? Yes. Are we too easily offended? Absolutely. Do we take out our anger on people who may not deserve it? No question. But in this case, regarding Rielly’s comment, is the outrage justified?

I can never and will never condone belittling of a people group, a segment of society, a team or a publication based on the opinion of one or two individuals. I would dare to say that while I understand the frustration, we can’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If everyone agreed on absolutely everything, there would be no conflict and no reason to share your opinion, and that would take away many peoples’ reason for living. So disagreeing with a person doesn’t discredit the entire enterprise he represents. Even taking 20-year old Rielly to task may be directing our anger in the wrong direction. Is Morgan Rielly a sexist person? Does his comment automatically mean he is?

Rielly used the phrase “not here to be a girl about it” as some kind of motivation for his team. In other words, it should be so horribly insulting for any male to be compared to a girl. Rielly wasn’t the first to use such vernacular and he won’t be the last. I have played hockey with men, and guess what? The majority of them were faster, stronger and more skilled than I was. My teammate however, who had been playing hockey much longer than I, was skating circles around those men. She was far superior in nearly every aspect of the game. It would have been a compliment for the guys to be compared to her.

Not all women watch sports. Not all women can play sports. And many women don’t care to do either. But should the women who love sports, breathe sports and know sports be discriminated against simply because it may not be the “norm”? Gender discrimination is not only alive and well, but it also goes both ways. So for us to dismiss it is just plain lazy. Men don’t want to be compared to girls. It’s an insult to them. Guys out there, please be honest and tell me I’m wrong. I don’t want to put a blanket statement over all men, but can someone explain to me why calling Sidney Crosby “Cindy” is meant to insult him? No nevermind, it’s pretty self-explanatory.

This issue has little to do with Morgan Rielly and a lot to do with the way women feel about their role in the sports world. His comments opened a wound that is far from being healed. I know a lot of guys who know nothing about hockey. They don’t care about hockey. They bow down to me when the topic arises. Imagine if we read every article without knowing the gender of the author. All that would matter would be the content and the facts. Morgan Rielly reminded us that sports is still a man’s world. And it reminded us that girls still aren’t allowed in the boys club. The situation reminded us that many are forced to endure a lot of abuse over something they have no control over, and that’s their gender.

But I’ll tell you what I do have control over. I can control the words that I speak. I can change my way of thinking if it’s harmful to the world around me. Nothing is going to stop me from working hard, learning everything I can and earning respect. I don’t care what country you come from, what gender you are, or what religion you follow. All I care about is your knowledge of sports. I would hope you can view me the same way. I know my stuff, and my writing speaks for itself. I’m sorry boys, but in terms of this subject, you don’t understand. But I don’t hold that against you. All I ask is that you start to change your language a little. Realise that you’ll always have an advantage over us, even if we’re more knowledgable. I would imagine some people are reading this and think I’m overreacting and being too sensitive. I guess I’m just being a girl.