The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, August 21, 2020
Don't count on women to fix your league — Interview with Amy Scheer — must-click WoHo links
(Hi! Howard Megdal here. The IX helps build the necessary infrastructure for women’s sports media. By connecting these worlds, it gives women’s sports the networking boost men’s sports can take for granted.
Those of you who are our satisfied subscribers, tell the world! We are grateful for your support. And we have a discount code below you can share with those who would love The IX as much as you do.
Our ask today: can you share The IX on Facebook or Twitter, and tag us? We don’t have a huge conglomerate behind us, so it’s up to you to help us spread the word! Thank you for making sure that whatever happens next, women’s sports coverage always has a home.)
Don’t count on women to fix your league
I came across an interesting Op-Ed by Erin Logan the other day. In it, Logan articulates something all too familiar to me and something I fear has/is/will happen in hockey. Although about politics, this part of the Op-Ed immediately gripped my attention:
“Black women have for decades existed as the invisible spine of the Democratic Party, consistently delivering support to candidates who ignored them once in office. So in a sense, it’s nice someone has finally recognized our enduring support.
But the long-awaited acknowledgment has been marred by a creepy form of gratitude that for me evokes the racist trope of a “mammy,” that fictional happy Black woman who not only thrives off domestic work but genuinely enjoys caring for white people.”
Now, one might wonder what this has to do with such a white sport like hockey. Well, in the past few months, the sport miraculously found Black women to speak on issues of race, racism, and how (primarily the NHL) can and should do better.
Regular readers know I continue to champion that hockey — that everyone — hire more Black women. However, Black women don’t need you to fawn over our brilliance. We already know we are smart, intelligent, hard-working, and on and on.
The fact that it took a reckoning for others to notice is thoroughly exhausting. Further, you do us no favors by placing us in “diversity & inclusion” roles that have no budget, no staff, no decision-making power, and no real intention of engaging in the difficult conversations of racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and other systemic and company culture barriers to progress.
It is not the role of Black women to scrub the floors of American sports.
To do so turns the success, power, intelligence, leadership, and other hard-earned skills of Black women into tropes. All women in sports fall victim to this. We’re either put on a pedestal or seen as a distraction to men in their rightful and homogenous workplace: the boardroom, the arena, in politics.
Therefore, it is infuriating to see women’s leagues and players unions perpetuate this type of thinking by prefacing that their CBA fight or new association “isn’t trying to make as much as the men”.
Why the hell not?
Yes, I know things will take time. But, damn. How long are we going to play into the “white male gaze” and stroke the egos of a collection of people who historically have proven they are not interested in our equality?
And, miss me with the “not all men” retort. It doesn’t have to snow for us to know it’s winter. The men who know sexism and inequality are an issue do women no favors by pretending they are a referendum on their gender.
Instead, perhaps they can return to the good old boys clubs of where they work, live, and enjoy recreation, and spend precious time doing the work, rather than using feints in the right direction as a shield.
As Logan put it: “Don’t just count on us. Real democracy requires everyone.”
The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom
Introducing The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
This Week in Women’s Hockey
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MORE COVERAGE FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS? Good, click these links and show decision-makers that if you post it, we will read it! If you have any hot tips for great stories or voices you’d like to see in The IX, email me: erica@ericaLayala.com.
This is a great read on the Kunlun Red Star Vanke Rays season. Lucas Aykroyd chronicles the road to a Russian championship amid a pandemic, buffing up the roster with International players, and what a successful 2019-20 season will mean for China Women’s Hockey come the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
A far from exhaustive list of women in NHL executive positions
The Athletic did a 40 under 40 of people shaping hockey. Here are the women we cover regularly who did make the list:
At #1 – Blake Bolden, LA Kings
At #7 – Stephanie Jackson, USA Hockey
At #10 Meghan Chayka
At #15 Anya Packer
At #18 Florence Schelling
At #20 Dani Rylan-Kearney
At #34 Liz Knox
Megan Keller of the PWHPA comes in at #8 for The Ice Garden’s Top 25 under 25.
Quinnipiac standout Melissa Samoskevich joins the Penn State Women’s Hockey coaching staff.
After an amazing college career at Wisconsin and a fantastic USA Hockey debut, PWHPA-bound Abby Roque comes in at #9 on the TIG Top 25 under 25.
Anya Packer is available when men’s hockey is ready to eliminate sexism in the broadcast booth.
Boston Pride and Swedish National Team goalie Lovisa Selander cracks the Top 10 of the TIG Top 25 under 25 list.
Tweet of the Week
A whole Friday mood!
Five at The IX: Amy Scheer, CT Whale GM
The NWHL announced that original Riveter, 2018 Isobel Cup Champion, and 2019-20 Connecticut GM Bray Ketchum-Peel is stepping away to pursue a teaching role. The league also announced sports marketing professional Amy Scheer as the new Whale general manager. We spoke to Scheer as the announcement went public Thursday.
How did this come onto your radar and what made it a good choice for you at this time?
First of all, when the league launched it, I followed this. Obviously, I’m personally interested in women’s sports, so I followed the league when it launched. And I think it’s been pretty amazing what Dani’s been able to do over the hill going into the sixth year and pretty inspiring. And so I have followed the league just peripherally. For the last couple of years I’ve been consulting and I was doing a lot of work with the Rangers and the head of fan development with the Rangers, him and I are pretty close and he was doing work with the NWHL and then [I was] introduced me to Dani and we just stayed in touch.
Due to COVID my consulting gig with MSG ended and I reached out to Dani and I just said, “Listen, like, not sure what’s going on with the league for next season, obviously are everything in flux, but I’m here if you need anything, obviously passionate about women’s sports want to help. Here, you just need mentoring here if you need someone to work, whatever it is.” And so we just stayed in touch over the last two months, and this position came open … what a great time to be part of women’s sports. It’s changed so much since I left the Liberty. And I feel like now sort of a flashpoint and critical time to try to make a difference.
What have been the things that you’ve learned, either in your time with the New York Liberty or just now over time, about how women’s sports can grow in a market like the tri-state area?
I think it’s an interesting question and it’s a tough one, because there’s so many factors involved. One, you need exactly what you’re doing, and that’s press. We need more people covering the sport on a daily basis. It adds credibility. And I think that’s a big challenge is that if you’re not seen or you’re not heard, you know, people don’t know. And because budgets are so small, so it’s tough to advertise, right? So I think number one, you need the media on board. And I think that’s starting to happen. Number two, is you need partners and sponsorship to get on board. You need people to make the journey with you, the media needs to take the journey with sponsorship needs to take the journey with you, and then fans need to get on board.
And the quality of play is so good now that there’s no doubt when you go to a game – whether it’s hockey, whether it’s soccer, whether it’s the WNBA – the quality of the play, is the best in the world. And so you’re really seeing a terrific product. So it takes all of those things for people to realize that you’re legit and participate and I think there’s a lot of good that’s going to come out of all the social justice and social movement that’s happening. The more we talk about diversity, equality, and inclusion, I think the more that will help women sports. And the WNBA has been masterful at letting their players take the lead and have a voice and be vocal, which I think is great. So I think you need the perfect storm of all the constituents. To help build the sport. You need financial support, you need fan support, and you need media support. It’s a tripod.
Connecticut Whale had a great first season where I think they did have a lot of that buy-in, certainly from their fan base. The franchise has struggled to return to that. What are some of the things that you think you or that you would like to be able to impact alongside your staff for season six?
I think I can’t obviously speak to what’s been done ahead of me. But what I do know is that I bring a good amount of experience on how to run a professional sports team. And so, what I want to bring in – this is certainly not a commentary on anything in the past – what I know I will bring is a big amount of professionalism to the organization, building out comprehensive marketing communications plans, building out a sponsorship, philosophy, strategy, and plan and looking to create the best home-ice advantage for our hockey team.
I want to create a legitimate business for the club that is run at the highest level. And it’ll be baby steps. But I want to come in and really drive an atmosphere of professionalism, which I know the hockey side has already done … I want to make sure that on the business side, it’s the same level if not higher.
What is your hockey background?
My first go round at MSG running the Liberty, we were like we were the small little sister in a big organization, right? Yeah. limited funds, limited resources. And so for me, one of my big pushes within a matrix organization was making friends throughout MSG, and who could help me promote the Liberty who could help move my business? How can I get support for people in the organization that have no direct report to me? So I became very close with, again, the VP for Fan Development for the Rangers, his name is Rick Nadeau. And he’s remarkable His job, and he was a big supporter of the Liberty my first time around. And we’ve always stayed in touch. I went back last November, November 2018. I went back to consult for The Garden. And I started in basketball but then when I when the basketball ended, I moved down to the marketing person for the Rangers … last year, I got to work on the rebrand for the New York Rangers managing that entire rebrand process.
I got to work very closely with Rick on helping launch the Girls’ Junior Hockey program for three years. I got to lead the big draft event for the Rangers last year. And so I’ve had the last year I’ve had the privilege of working with Rick and his team also on the marketing side … I got to learn a lot more about sport got to know some key people, Dani obviously be one of them. And so that was sort of my biggest foray into hockey. But as I said to the coaching staff (Thursday) morning, I have a lot to learn and expect though they’ll teach me.
Bray and her crew did a pretty good job with this roster. What are you looking forward to when you finally get to hit the ice at the top of the year?
Yeah, listen, I won’t come around and speak on the hockey side. All I know is, when I look at our staff, understanding their backgrounds, and learning a lot about Colton from my buddy and Rick, I know that we’ve got the best staff and a great team from what I’ve been told. And I literally sent an email out to introduce myself to the players (Wednesday) and I’m looking forward to getting to meet all of them. And I know, obviously, Bray, a former player has had a big impact on the club, and so they’re big shoes to fill. But actually, I think there are different shoes to fill based on our skill sets. And I can’t wait to hit the ground running.