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You Sunk My Battleship!

Back in 2007, when this website was still in its toddler phase, I ran an entry about how Bear Bryant had decided to distinguish the twins Harry and Larry Jones — who both played for Bryant at Kentucky in the early 1950s — by assigning them the uniform numbers 1A and 1B, as seen here:

In that 2007 entry, I mentioned that LSU had done something similar in 1952 (but not just for two players), and I linked to this photo:

The Kentucky example is pretty famous in uniform circles (probably because of its tie to Bryant), but I had pretty much forgotten about the LSU situation until longtime Uni Watch reader/contributor/pal Jared Wheeler recently got in touch. He’d been doing some research in old LSU yearbooks and came across a bunch of great photos documenting the school’s alpha-numeric jersey system from 1952.

First, here’s an explanation of the system, as transcribed from the yearbook:

Coach Gaynell Tinsely and sports publicity director Jim Corbett inaugurated a new letter-number system at LSU, which may revolutionize the football jersey manufacturing industry. Under the new system, ends, guards, and tackles wear the letters E,G, and T [respectively], followed by a number from zero to nine. The right side of the line [is] identified by the even numbers and the left side by odd. Centers, quarterbacks, left halfbacks, right halfbacks, and fullbacks wear C, Q, L, R, and F, respectively, with numbers from one to nine.

The new system makes the task of identification much simpler and serves to give the players, especially lineman, a stamp of individuality. The system was approved by the NCAA rules committee chairman, the SEC commissioner, and the Tigers’ ten 1952 opponents. LSU was the first university to use such a system. UCLA and other schools have since adopted the system.

So that’s the basic protocol. Here are the yearbook pages that show the jerseys in action, along with a team portrait (for all of these, you can click to enlarge):

LSU 1952 Gumbo

LSU 1952 Gumbo 2 LSU 1952 Gumbo 2_1 LSU 1952 Gumbo 3 LSU 1952 Gumbo 4 LSU 1952 Gumbo 6 LSU 1952 Gumbo 5

Pretty cool stuff, right? But there’s more. Since the LSU yearbook mentioned that UCLA had also used an alpha-numeric system, Jared went looking for evidence of that. He found one instance, from 1952:

UCLA 1952 Letter

And that’s not all. Jared also found that Penn had experimented with an alpha-numeric system way back in 1930, for one game against Lehigh:

Penn Football 1930 Team

Penn Football 1930 Team 6 Penn Football 1930 Team 5 Penn Football 1930 Team 3

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally geeked out about this. Major props to Jared for uncovering the documentation of these obscure chapters in uniform history.

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Some Time in New York City, Side One, Track One: Thursday’s Ticker included an item about some San Jose Sharks fans are threatening to cancel their season tickets because of the team’s new “ice girls” uniforms. That prompted several comments — both here and on other sites I’ve seen — that basically said, “Hell, that’s nothing compared to other teams’ ice girls unis, so what’s the big deal?”

It’s true that the Sharks’ ice girl unis are pretty tame compared to those used by many other NHL teams, but that just raises the question of why those other teams take such a sexualized approach to their ice girls’ attire. In short, I don’t think the Sharks are the issue here. I think the issue is twofold:

1. First there’s the question of why so many NHL teams think it’s okay to turn a simple custodial function — sweeping the ice with shovels — into an opportunity to present women as sex objects. Would it be acceptable to have scantily clad, all-female staffs of ushers, or turnstile attendants, or hot dog vendors? Assuming the answer is no (and I hope we can agree on that assumption), why is acceptable for ice-shovelers?

2. Then there’s the larger issue of women are marginalized into eye-candy roles in the sports world. From ice girls and boxing’s ring card bimbettes (whose “job” is basically to walk around in a circle and look fuckable while a crowd of neanderthals hoots at them) to NFL cheerleaders (who are treated like crap) and network sideline reporters (a topic that’s currently in the news), the sports world still relegates women into badly stereotyped roles over and over again. It’s something we really should have moved past by now.

To be clear: I have no problem with sex, sexiness, sexy apparel, or sexuality per se. I’ve known some sex workers and pornographers over the years and respect the work they do. But I do have a problem with a mainstream industry that’s mostly run by men and has a pattern of repeatedly ghetto-izing women into sex-object roles. That’s the real issue here.

I wrote most of this entry on Friday. Then, on Saturday, the radio show This American Life ran a segment about how teams treat their cheerleaders. Now, you might be thinking (as I initially did), “Yeah, right, like This American Life really knows anything about cheerleading, or even about sports.” But it turns out that one of the show’s producers is a former Laker Girl, and she had some really interesting things to say about the good and bad aspects of the job, including the attire. One of the most interesting things she brings up is that on the one hand she had to dress like a sex kitten, complete with a push-up bra purchased from Frederick’s of Hollywood, but on the other hand she was told not to drink water from a bottle during any public appearances because that might look too “porny” or “slutty” (all of which reminds me of the old Steve Martin line: “I believe a woman should be put on a pedestal — just high enough to see up her dress”). On balance, though, she enjoyed the job. Check out the segment here:

I’m not necessarily arguing that we should get rid of cheerleaders or banish anything sexy from the sports world, but I’m definitely suggesting that we should think a little harder about the way this industry presents and packages women. A simple step in the right direction would be to replace ice girls with straightforward custodial staffers who are dressed in straightforward team-branded attire, regardless of their gender.

I know the site’s readership is overwhelmingly male, but I also know we have some, if not many, female readers. Women, I’d love to hear what you think about all this — please share your comments with us. Thanks.

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Design contest reminder: In case you missed it last week, I’m currently accepting entries for an ESPN contest to redesign the Cavaliers. The entry deadline is this Friday, July 25. Full details here.

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Baseball News: Here’s one of the better Majestic commercials for their MLB uniforms that I’ve seen (from Scott Burns). ”¦ Who’s that in the top row, second from the right, on the 1908 Abilene High School baseball team? None other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. ”¦ The Yankees wore their Memorial Day G.I. Joe costumes yesterday — you know, the ones that were only for one special holiday seven weeks ago. ”¦ The D-backs’ broadcast team took the Star Wars thing a little too far yesterday (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Here’s one I missed from last month: The San Rafael Pacifics — that’s an independent team in the Bay Area — took the breast cancer thing a bit further back on June 27 by wearing pink dresses. Somewhere, Bill Veeck is smiling (from Jasper Casey). ”¦ Buried within this article about the Tigers: “Detroit is 12 games over .500 on the road but entered Sunday’s game with a .500 home record. ‘I don’t really have a concrete reason for it,’ [manager Brad] Ausmus said. ‘I guess we could wear our gray uniforms at home'” (good one, Phil). ”¦ Gee ya think today’s players wear their pants too baggy or what? (Phil again.) ”¦ The Reds Museum has an old 1930s cap with glasses attached to the brim (from Joanna Zwiep). ”¦ Hmmm, did the “378” marker on the Orioles’ outfield wall in 1979 have an upside-down “8”? Sure looks like it (great spot by Frank Mercogliano). ”¦ The Dodgers started wearing “Dodger blue” in 1938, when the color was described as “a particularly rich shade of blue” (from Todd Radom).

NFL News: Hmmmm, are the Browns in the NFC? Nope — just a manufacturer’s glitch (from Nicholas Walz). ”¦ Hmmmm, check out this shot of Lyle Lovette promoting Washougal Motocross Park with a logo obviously cribbed from the NFL logo (from Greg Brown).

College Football News: Some helmet tweaks for Louisville. Now if they’d just get rid of the gritted teeth. ”¦ Here’s a rendering of Tulane’s new stadium.

Soccer News: The Spanish team CD Lugo’s new kits feature beer and octopus (from Jeremy Brahm). ”¦ The Portland Thorns’ captain was wearing her captaincy armband upside-down yesterday (from Frank Mercogliano).

Grab Bag: A player for the San Antonio Talons — that’s an arena league team — lost one of his front jersey numerals the other night (from Josh Claywell). ”¦ Jennifer Hayden attended the recent Blackhawks Convention and spotted these vintage press passes. … NHRA driver Cruz Pedregon wore an Oakland Raiders-themed helmet — for an event in Denver! Bold move (from David Firestone). ”¦ If you scroll through the photos on this page you’ll many of the Dutch riders in the Tour de France wearing black armbands in memory of the 173 Dutch passengers who perished in the recent Malaysia Airlines flight (from Michael Rich). ”¦ Also from Michael: In the middle of this page is a good map of bowling centers in America. “The map was far more interesting to me when viewed ‘per capita’ rather than by raw numbers,” he says, and I agree. ”¦ New jerseys for some German handball team I’ve never heard of. ”¦ Check this out: After sheep are shorn, they’re sometimes outfitted in Lycra suits to keep them warm. “There’s a gold mine out there for the person who makes them with LeBron’s name and number on them,” says Tris Wykes.

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Nice-seeming fella: I was saddened to learn of James Garner’s death yesterday. From his TV roles (The Rockford Files, Maverick) to his movies (Support Your Local Sheriff, Victor/Victoria, etc.) to those commercials he did with Mariette Hartley, he always struck me as the ideal mix of tough guy and funny guy, with a very endearing self-deprecating wit. When I think of him, the word that comes to mind is “likable.”

I was a big Rockford Files fan as a kid in the 1970s, and one thing I always loved was the opening sequence in which Rockford’s phone would ring and his answering machine (at the time a very exotic-seeming gadget) would pick up: “This is Jim Rockford. At the tone, leave your name and message. I’ll get back to you.” And then you’d hear the incoming message, which was usually someone leaving him bad news, or sounding annoyed, or otherwise giving insight into the trials and tribulations of one James Rockford. And then it would segue immediately from that message into the opening theme music. Last night I was happy to discover that someone has compiled an entire season’s worth of these answering machine messages into this video:

All of which leads to a little story. In 1988 I had what I thought was a clever idea: I would use one of the Rockford answering machine bits — the ringing phone, his greeting, and the incoming message — as the greeting on my answering machine. It would all be very meta, or something like that. In order to do it, I’d need to make an audio recording from a Rockford Files episode. At the time, reruns of the show were being broadcast at something like 2am in New York, so one night I set my VCR to record an episode.

When I woke up, I rewound the VHS tape to the beginning of the episode to hear the answering machine sequence. The incoming message was this one.

I couldn’t believe my luck — I’d gotten an answering machine message about answering machine messages. Meta-meta! I put the entire sequence, from the ringing phone through the middle of the theme song that followed the incoming message, onto an audio cassette and used it as my answering machine greeting for the next several years. (In retrospect, I probably should have just said, “This is Paul. Please leave a message.” But hey, I was young.)

Anyway: Just to bring this back to uniforms, our own Brinke Guthrie came up with a photo of Garner and Dean Martin wearing baseball uniforms at some sort of “Hollywood All-Stars” game:

Garner was looking classy, as always. RIP.

Comments (216)

    Could you explain in detail how a letter-number system on football uniforms would limit deception? I don’t think it would affect deception that much. The only example I can think of is if suddenly a player with a Q on his jersey lines up as a runningback and the quarterback pitches the ball to him like he’s going to run a sweep, if I was a defender I might not run forward to the line of scrimmage as quickly because there is a greater chance the ball carrier might throw a pass since he has a Q on his jersey and is normally a quarterback. That is the only example I can think of.

    I think the greater problem for the alphanumeric football numbers was players often don’t only play one position, especially in college football in the 50’s. This was when players were still playing playing both ways ironman style and how do you decide if a player who plays runningback and linebacker whether or not they will wear an R or an L on their jersey? You ever notice that the traditional football numbering system we are used to works for both offense and defense in the way that an offensive player’s number will also most likely work for it’s defensive counterpart? This is from the days of players playing both offense and defense.

    Here is how it worked for years and years (and yes I know there are some exceptions to these but this system below was generally the standard for decades):

    1-19: kickers, punters, quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive backs
    20-39: halfbacks, defensive backs
    40-49: fullbacks, linebackers
    50-79: offensive linemen, linebackers
    80-89: wide receivers, tight ends, defensive ends
    90-99: offensive linemen, defensive linemen

    Also a letter-number system would be a mess on special teams plays.

    Another thing: I think an alphanumeric football numbering system would present nightmares for referees in determining which players are eligible receivers, especially if the offense is doing a lot of substitutions with players who also play defense and may have a defensive position letter on their jersey. I know tackles can declare themselves eligible but can you imagine three or four different players having to declare themselves eligible on EVERY play?

    As a Browns fan and uni geek, the NFC Browns stuff is kind of a ‘holy grail’. I have seen those hats before, but the best is the windbreaker with the NFC logo. I’ve seen it a few times in the muni lot.

    Nice tip o the cap Paul,

    Another nice artist rendering and fan tribute James Garner can be seen here by good ole’ Pete Emslie – been a phantom phan of his for decades.


    Shorpy has a great photo of James Garner, as Bret Maverick, in 1958: link

    The set looks remarkably small, yet looks spacious when seen on TV.

    Troy Tempest from the old “Stingray” show (Supermarionation, doncha know) was based on James Garner.

    “I’ve known some sex workers and pornographers over the years and respect the work they do. But I do have a problem with a mainstream industry that’s mostly run by men and has a pattern of repeatedly ghetto-izing women into sex-object roles. That’s the real issue here.”

    I’m confused. Are you saying that the sex workers and pornographers DON’T ghetto-ize women into sex-object roles? Lost me on this one.

    I don’t like those hockey costumes. MLB seems to do it the right way. The young men and women down the lines snagging the foul balls always seem to be dressed in the team’s uniform, or close to it.

    I would believe that women who tryout to be ice girls, cheerleaders, etc, for sports teams know what they are getting into. You make it sound like they go in all dumb and clueless about what they will be wearing and how they will be presented. The women all know what it’s about Paul and they choose to do it anyhow.

    This is like saying, “Secretaries knew what they were getting into during the Mad Men era.”

    The fact is, if only certain options are open to people, then those are the options they’ll take. But that doesn’t mean those options are fair or dignified or appropriate.

    “Sex workers and pornographers are upfront about what they do – they’re selling sex. At least that’s honest.”

    I think the amount of abuse toward women in human trafficking and prostitution is well-documented and worthy of respect.

    I’m not sure the ice girls are a valid comparison. Again, I don’t like what the hockey teams are doing there, nor do I think what the football teams and basketball teams do is appropriate.

    But I never said I respected human traffickers. I said I have personally known some sex workers (dominatrixes, specifically) and pornographers and respect their work.

    Are there very problematic aspects to the sex industry? Of course there are. I never said (and never meant to imply) otherwise.

    “I’ve known some sex workers and pornographers over the years and respect the work they do. But I do have a problem with a mainstream industry that’s mostly run by men and has a pattern of repeatedly ghetto-izing women into sex-object roles. That’s the real issue here.”

    Isn’t the porn industry primarily run by men and has now become mainstream?

    To be clear, I am not a fan of ice dancers or even cheeleaders for that matter. The idea of a franchise of grown, extremely well paid men, need to be cheered on is beyond me. Yes I know they are for the crowd, but seriously. It is high school-ish I think.

    If this is showing off the midriff specifically, then San Jose fans are behind the eight ball on this one. Crop tops have been normal young female fashion for years. To me this seems like it is more of a case of old people who are afraid that contemporary fashion is changing rather than any concern for the well being of these women, or their kids.

    They should really be more concerned if these women are getting paid a fair wage for fair work.

    Crop tops have been normal young female fashion for years.

    1) As I already stated, the Sharks are not the issue here.

    2) Since you apparently think crop-tops are appropriate for custodial workers who are cleaning the ice, do you also think they’re appropriate for ushers, hot dog vendors, ticket takers, etc.? In short, is there *any* female job function that shouldn’t be outfitted in a crop top?

    Calling them custodians is selling them a bit short, don’t you think? In every NHL arena I’ve been to, the people clearing the ice are a part of the cheerleaders/spirit team/etc.

    _In short, is there *any* female job function that shouldn’t be outfitted in a crop top?_
    Don’t be so obtuse.

    Wearing a uniform can be a drag, no matter what the uniform is and no matter what the job is. However, in this case, it’s a non starter. Other women in the same industry, like Lacey T, are getting such poor treatment – that’s the issue.

    Where are the people cancelling their season tickets for that? Nitpicking on whether or not showing a woman’s belly button is appropriate is counter productive in the face of such egregious workplace issues in the industry.

    FWIW, I saw a lot of women today going to work wearing crop tops, and I suspect many didn’t even have to.

    I’ll admit my ignorance – who’s Lacey T?

    But if you’re going to argue that an industry’s hyper-sexualized attitudes towards women couldn’t possibly have any correlation with a hostile working environment, it’s a hard sell.

    “Wearing a uniform can be a drag, no matter what the uniform is and no matter what the job is.”

    Now there’s a sentence I never, ever thought I’d read on a site called Uni Watch.

    And my feeling is just about entirely the opposite — I come here to talk about sports uniforms and general aesthetics, but I’m also becoming a fan of uniforms in the regular world too.

    Here in Japan, where I live, many institutions both corporate and educational have uniforms, and most people like them. They give their wearers a sense of belonging while retaining individuality with their small variations; they eliminate the social gap between rich and poor and the bullying that might comewith that; and they’re generally designed to flatter their wearers and make them (both sexes) look more attractive.

    Supposedly they were more mainstream in the US back in the ’50s and ’60s. I’d love to see them make a comeback.

    I’ve worked in the healthcare biz for more than two decades. Nearly all the nurses used to wear uniforms, now most wear highly decorated scrubs. Aside from security guards, it’s the lowest-level jobs that are most likely to wear uniforms – housekeeping (in remarkably many hospitals they get maroon scrubs), dishwashers, admissions clerks, etc.

    One, is this really a job for these women? It’s seasonal for one thing and I would suspect most of them have actual jobs they do other than this. Two, no one is forcing them to do the job. You don’t like it, don’t do it. It’s just like your job. If you ever got to not liking doing this, then don’t do it and find something else. Seems like you are implying these women have no other job opportunities and this is a career path. Neither of which is true really.

    Most have jobs as models, at least one blackhawks crew girl moved onto a tv show doing interviews.

    My recollection is that the Dodgers had a Hollywood Stars Night from when they began playing in Los Angeles in 1958 until the 2000s, except for the strike-shortened 1981 season.

    The caps Garner and Martin are pictured wearing look to be Los Angeles Angels caps. I’m wondering if this was from an Angels game when they played at Dodger Stadium from 1962-1965.

    Right you are. 1964, apparently:
    No idea who the woman in b/w Dino & Garner is (though its’ definitely not Donna DeVarona as a commenter below theorized, she was only like 17 y/o in 1964).

    This link shows the uniforms used in 2007.

    Here’s an article lamenting the end of the Stars game:

    With the Rock & Jock softball game, the celebrity appearances at Lakers games, and the overall growth of the presence of celebrities on TV, interweb, etc. it doesn’t surprise me that people aren’t really interested in this kind of thing anymore.

    The LSU yearbook is pretty annoying in its lack of use of capitalization. Well, except for the one sentence that starts with “Under”. Combined with the choice of typeface, those paragraphs give me a headache.

    Best part of those alpha-numeric football photos is the guard wearing G-0 (zero). Let’s say this system took off and is the standard today, without a doubt that letter/number combo would be the most popular with fans and announcers. He would be referred to as the “go” guard or the “go-man”, etc. Other position nicknames might be “the square” for L-7, “The Terminator” for T-2, and “the racer” or “race-man” for F-1. Any others?

    Assuming new(-ish) position designations were included (W for WRs, R for RBs, K for kickers, etc.)

    W2 (tax man)
    R2 (D2)
    K9 (popular in a browns uniform)

    I’m a die-hard hockey fan, and I hate the on-ice crew being dressed up in that attire.

    I’m there to watch a hockey. Cheerleaders are football’s thing. Women at Jets games who are part of the ice crew don’t wear mini-skirts. They seem to all enjoy their jobs from those I’ve spoken with, and one girl insisted that if she had to wear a skirt and crop-top, she’d be “better off at Hooters”.

    I’m with you, Teebz. Hockey is hockey, and I don’t need the home team objectifying their ice crew to keep me interested.

    To be honest, they can get rid of all cheerleaders, ice-girls, etc. in my opinion. I actually feel insulted by them being there and put in that capacity. I feel the team is essentially saying to me, “Hey caveman-moron…look at these girls. You’re a guy who can’t help but drool over women, so here is something to eyeball until the game starts up again or we decide to shove another add in your face.” Not only are they marginalizing women, but men too, as dumb sex maniacs who demand to look at cleavage and upper thighs as they choke down their $9 nachos and $12 beer. It’s like they see the American male as nothing but a dumb, beer-swilling, over-weight, sex-crazed ape…granted that’s true for about a third of us, but the other two-thirds of us are happy to satisfy our sexual tendencies with either our significant others or with help from Paul’s pornography gentlemen. It’s the same as the Miller Lite girls and other “branded babes” of the same ilk in bars who wear next to nothing and a annoyed look on their face as they stand next to a tub of beer just to have to endure men walking up to them to deliver devastatingly poor pick-up lines that go over like a reading of Mein Kampf at a Jewish Community Center. When I go to sporting events, I go to watch the game.

    Well, you’re probably right… but there are some events where sexually objectified women are still necessary. I mean, back in 2000 I had to sit through a Kid Rock performance before Metallica took the stage, and the scantily clad dancers were the only enjoyable part of it.

    “there are some events where sexually objectified women are still necessary”



    Not only are they marginalizing women, but men too, as dumb sex maniacs who demand to look at cleavage and upper thighs as they choke down their $9 nachos and $12 beer.

    Nicely put, Mike. When sexist comments appear on this site (which, thankfully, is a very rare occurrence), I always delete them and explain that such comments are insulting to MEN, because they stereotype us as dick-for-brains morons.

    “… whose ‘job’ is basically to walk around in a circle and look fuckable while a crowd of neanderthals hoots at them…”

    What do you got against Neanderthals?

    Sometimes the push back against ‘sexiness’ seems more of a demonstration to prove how ‘progressive/enlightened’ someone is than an actual, necessary objection.

    Over sexualizing either gender isn’t a good thing, but what is the harm in accepting that there is a large segment of the male population that likes to look at women and a comparably large segment of the female population that likes to be looked at. (side note: I’ve had multiple straight female friends that also enjoy looking at women).

    As long as that cultural ‘norm’ doesn’t restrict women’s access to opportunities, what is the harm? Is it any different than other assumptions made in the commercial realm (women like to receive jewelry, men like beer and engines, kids like brightly colored drinks/cereal, etc.). This isn’t saying we should assume all women want to be oggled (they don’t), nor do all men want to oggle, but aren’t there enough of both that we can let the ogglers oggle those who desire to be oggled?

    “but what is the harm in accepting that there is a large segment of the male population that likes to look at women and a comparably large segment of the female population that likes to be looked at.”

    What harm is there in recognizing that a large segment of hockey fans are not heterosexual males? And that even more non-heterosexual males might enjoy coming to and watching games if there are not completely superfluous sexist stereotypes everywhere one turns at a sporting event?

    Also, I would argue that women’s access to opportunities in professional sports is restricted. Women’s professional sports are not very lucrative, so it’s hard to be a professional athlete as a woman. Women don’t make up a significant portion of either front offices nor professional sports reporting, despite being significant consumers of professional sports. The few jobs that are open to women in professional sports do tend to be sexualized in a way that men’s jobs in professional sports are not.

    It’s bad because there may be a woman who’s a San Jose Sharks fan, maybe she skates as a hobby. She thinks this is a great job to have. Maybe she’s 35 and not 25, maybe she’s got a few extra pounds, maybe she doesn’t fit the ultra thin, supermodel beauty standard. She’s going to get denied this job, not because she can’t do it, but because she’s not young or pretty enough. That’s denying an opportunity.

    -There is no harm in recognizing that a large segment of hockey fans are not heterosexual males or are uninterested in seeing scantily clad women – obviously, the hockey execs are choosing to cater to those who are.

    -Women’s sports are not as lucrative because the market isn’t there for it. Fewer women play sports than men. Women’s sports are not as much fun to watch as men’s. That’s not ‘restriction’, that’s reality.
    -Being a significant consumer of a sport is not enough. Look around front offices and/or broadcast booths. Many (but not all) of the posts are filled by people who played the sport at a high level. Getting women into the roles not filled by former athletes will take time, as women’s interest in the sport is a relatively recent phenomenon.

    -Dan – just like someone can’t be a realtor/sales person if they aren’t articulate, can’t be a pro basketball player if they’re not tall, can’t be a doctor if they don’t have extremely good manual dexterity, can’t be a roughneck if they aren’t strong, can’t be a bouncer if they aren’t big, etc. All of us are born with physical attributes that prevent us from being successful in certain fields. Should we complain about being denied opportunities?

    Sometimes the push back against ‘sexiness’ seems more of a demonstration to prove how ‘progressive/enlightened’ someone is than an actual, necessary objection.

    About whom are you speaking?

    ” Women’s sports are not as much fun to watch as men’s.”


    Opinion, not fact.

    Again, I see where you’re coming from but, let’s be honest, clearing ice/being a team spirit booster is a far cry from being a doctor. Did you actually write that with a straight face? With the exception of being a basketball player(I have zero athletic ability and I’m ok with that), I could presumably do everything else on your list with the proper training/schooling/practice. What you’re telling me is it’s ok for the Sharks to deny a job that a woman could do simply because she’s not “pretty enough”. So an “ugly” woman can’t skate, clear ice or be a hard core hockey fan? I respectfully disagree.

    I agree with Robert. I’d be happy if all the cheerleaders, spirit-squad and other trashily-clad women were removed from all sports. They serve no purpose whatsoever. Do they really enhance your enjoyment of a game? I find them totally annoying and demeaning.

    “To be clear: I have no problem with sex, sexiness, sexy apparel, or sexuality per se. I’ve known some sex workers and pornographers over the years and respect the work they do. But I do have a problem with a mainstream industry that’s mostly run by men and has a pattern of repeatedly ghetto-izing women into sex-object roles. That’s the real issue here.”

    Yeah, because having a man’s fluid exit his body and land on a woman’s face isn’t “ghetoo-izing”. Or running a train on a woman. Or having weird foriegn objects inserted into them.

    Classic straw man argument. I never said I was fine with entire sex industry; I said I’ve known some sex workers and pornographers and respect the work that those specific people have done (none of which included facials, etc.).

    I like certain bands very much. That doesn’t mean I’m fine with idiot power ballads, moronic heavy metal, or all the other nonsense in the music industry.

    Think harder.

    Sorry Paul,
    I guess I read into that a bit much and I guess I am not quite entirely sure what you mean by “sex workers” and “pornographers”?

    Would it be more fair to say that the industry as a whole (your contacts excluded) is pretty much doing the same thing as you mentioned in your quote though? Minus a few sub-genres?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am on your side on the whole thing, but it almost seemed like you were letting the porn industry have immunity when they are, in my opinion, the worst offender on objectifying women.

    Good lord all-mighty, I like where today’s comments are headed.

    Can everyone hold off on commenting until I get the belt around my neck? Thanks!

    …OK I’m ready.

    These leagues have people working for them that have a job to do, in this case ways to make just that little bit more $ They already know they have the die hard fan. You are a lifer.
    They want the shallow person who will pay just to get a view of cleavage or even a smile from these girls.

    The ice girls, the Miller Lite girls, the Laker Girls, the Red Bull girls… they’re basically strippers without the nudity. Yeah, if you ask them, they probably take a lot of pride in what they do, and how they perform. But really, they’re mostly money-generators for the (likely male) bar owners/team owners/beer company owners.

    I can’t help but think, “Can’t we all try a little harder?” Is this what we think the proper role of women in our society should be? Is this what we think men want? Really?

    Proper role for women in society? No

    What men want? Yes, for some, even many, but not all

    What women want? Yes for some, but not all

    And is that such a bad thing? Why is it so bad if some females voluntary accept compensation for meeting the market demand generated by some male consumers?

    In regards to the whole “women being portrayed as sex objects” thing, has it crossed anyone’s minds that some women just might WANT to look like sex objects?

    There’s a reason burlesque has gotten popular again. It empowers women to take control of their sexuality in a public way that’s both fun and creative.

    Christ, NHL ice girls aren’t sex slaves. They aren’t being forced against their wills to wear low-cut spandex tops and miniskirts. Some women are just slutty by nature and actually enjoy dressing like that. They know it will get the attention of men and they like that. They knew what they were getting into when they applied for the job.

    In industries that are controlled by men and where the customers are mostly men you will always see hot, sexy young women wearing skimpy outfits. Men find this attractive and the theory is it will get more men to spend more money on the business. Look at advertising: hot young women wearing hardly any clothes is standard practice to sell merchandise. Just because a woman is wearing a bikini doesn’t automatically make it risque. I think the problem isn’t how attractive the girl is, how big her boobs are, or what she’s wearing; the problem is the way they tell her to act. If she’s told to dance like a stripper and twerk her ass for the entire halftime, then yeah, I think that might be going overboard if it’s family night. This reminds me of the way Hooters has always called itself a “family restaurant” and yeah, Hooters girls wear tight low-cut half shirts and tight spandex shorts but they NEVER dance around like exotic dancers, and I think that is wear the line is drawn between tolerable and inappropriate.

    To further my point just look at what that producer who was a former Laker Girl said in the interview above: they had to wear Frederick’s of Hollywood bras but they were told to never drink water out of bottles during public appearances because that would be too suggestive. Right there is how to prevent sexiness from becoming sluttiness: it’s ok to look hot, but once you start acting like a slut, you’re a slut, case closed.

    “In industries that are controlled by men and where the customers are mostly men you will always see hot, sexy young women wearing skimpy outfits.”

    Have you ever thought that maybe this is kind of like a self-fulfilling thing? That perhaps, in a situation in which women are only encouraged to participate if they are willing to be “hot, sexy young women wearing skimpy outfits” that maybe other women (and some men) will be turned off by that? In my experience at hockey games (and other sporting events), the stands are certainly not made up of only men. Why pretend like the product is only for them? Why risk turning off part of your consumer base for something that isn’t bringing more people to your product?

    I think that is exactly the problem – industries run by men pandering to what they see as the desires of men, and then wondering why they can’t get women to attend the games.

    Comparing the ice girls to ushers and hot dog vendors is an unfair comparison. They are out on the ice in full view and their role is more of a hybrid aesthetic/ function role.

    Classic example of circular reasoning. It’s only “aesthetic” because the teams have MADE it aesthetic. But it’s really just cleaning off the ice with a shovel. Why do you have to dress like a sex toy to do that? And if that’s OK, then why shouldn’t a hot dog vendor do the same?

    lot of cases these women have other promotional duties, such as free merch tossing, ticket give aways and other things of that manner

    I am guessing a scantily clad female hot dog vendor would out-sell a normally dressed male vendor 2 to 1.

    When we see this catch on in the NHL and MLB, we will know that we can thank Paul.

    “You don’t think a scantily clad woman handling a hot dog is a bad idea?”


    OK, that may just qualify as the best comment on this whole topic! (or at least the funniest)

    “Sex toy”

    You are really trivialising women who get trafficked into the sex trade by comparing cheerleaders to them.

    This is shameful, and hurts their plight.

    I don’t mind women performing the duties of ice girls. However they don’t need to be scantily clad, putting them in hockey uniforms or something similar would be the same for me.

    And the reason they probably can’t be hot dog vendors, etc, is because you’re putting scantily clad women unprotected up into the stands, as opposed to having them separated from the stands on the ice/field/etc. I know that’s not the gist of your comment, but that’s probably got something to do with it.

    In a way, it’s not that different from how the groundskeepers at the Astrodome briefly dressed up as futuristic spacemen. If you’re on the playing surface, you’re at least a small part of the entertainment. I’m not saying I like the idea of ice girls at all, but I completely get the logic behind it.

    Interesting conversation on the “ice girls”. Especially so since the NHL, like all major sports, is trying so desperately hard to link.

    SB Nation’s Colorado Avalanche page had link of those efforts earlier this year, from the perspective that they’re ham-fisted and halfway, in so small part because of the “ice girl” thing.

    Love the Rockford Files answering machine as an answering machine message.
    Think I’ll change my ringtone to the theme song.

    Funny thing about the Boston Bruins Ice Girls is that the TD Garden is a union building, meaning that the ice crew is a team of union guys, and the girls are not allowed to clean the ice per union rules. The girls’ sole role is to throw t-shirts into the crowd while the union guys clean the ice. Not sure how many other teams this applies to.

    there you go…to be honest, i never noticed…when the game is at a standstill for ice maintenance, i’m usually talking to my friends, taking a leak, or grabbing a beer (from a non-sexified concession worker).

    The New Jersey Devils are one team that follow exactly what is mentioned at the end of the entry on the Ice Girls Issue- They used a simple staff of workers wearing Devils attire. Normally College Age guys.

    Since I have grown up watching Devils games, I have always thought the Ice Girls of various teams were just a gimmick.

    They have their ice girls dance provocatively around the arena instead. I’m not a Devils fan but i went to one of their games bc it was included with a ticket to their job fair and i have to say they were the most entertaining part of the night

    The thing that’s largly forgotten about the San Jose Sharks’ ice cleaner job is that it’s open to women AND men. However, men would wear regular pants and a loose, long sleeve shirt. Interesting that women have to wear tight fitting spandex pants and a form fitting crop top. For me, this just adds to the whole “women are only sex objects” thing which I don’t agree with at all. I’m guessing a woman with a little extra weight isn’t gonna be considered for the job.

    And if they had the men in tight fitting polo shirts or even tank tops/shirtless, I wouldn’t feel like the men were being tragically objectified. Nor do I think they would feel that way.

    a couple of points on the “sexualized” ice girls.
    1) they are a part of the on ice entertainment, their custodial work is secondary. I’ve been to Bruins games, and its not like the girls are the only people out there doing the work. but mostly they are models. they are hired because they are pretty and fit. most of them work hard at the gym to maintain this. people enjoy looking at them, they know this, and they take a job. I once was looking for a summer job while in college and i applied at a bunch of stores in the mall. i had an interview at Abercrombie & Fitch where the store manager blatantly told me that they only hire good looking people to be the models for the store. i did not get hired. and that’s fine, i can accept that i don’t measure high enough on Abercrombie’s attractiveness scale. for most of these girls, this is a supplemental income that they are able to add because they are pretty enough and they can skate. its exploitative, but i think they know this, and make it work for them. the NFL though…yeesh…those stories are awful. can’t get behind that.
    2) you bring up the point of concession workers not dressing like this. this is probably due to a couple things, like money and unions. most concessions are run by larger corporations like Aramark, and i think they are unionized. you would have to compensate these workers well, and because of the size of the workforce, the job selection process would be much harder (if you are trying to only hire physically fit model types to exploit their bodies). which brings me to the point of bartenders. or if you’ve ever been to Vegas, bottle service girls. these girls basically serve you in lingerie. i do some work in Vegas and i know that these girls are compensated VERY WELL, and they don’t have other jobs. their job is to go to the gym, stay fit, and then work the clubs a few nights a week. they have to know they are being exploited for their bodies, but because of the money, i think they are ok with it. they work hard to maintain this image, and because of their physical assets they are able to be compensated accordingly. physically, a stronger man is going to be hired for a construction job before a skinny unconditioned man. it goes in line with the work.

    i get your point…and yeah, they may be adding to some fat cat’s bottom line, but i think all parties involved in this arrangement understand the lines that are drawn. i also understand Sharks fans disappointment…because i remember when the Celtics introduced dancers at their games. fans were perplexed and didn’t think it went along with the direction the franchise had been run. but eventually it just faded into the background like all other commercial break entertainment.

    Like a lot of people here, you’re providing an explanation for why this stuff happens but not a justification for it. There’s a difference.

    Personally, I don’t think such a justification exists.

    the justification is management thinks fans enjoy it. i’m sure some of them do. The girls get a paycheck. I’m not saying its entirely ethical, but its justified.
    you say you don’t have a problem with sexuality or sexiness. but that is precisely the argument you are presenting. if the girls weren’t dressed sexy, this would be a non issue.
    hypothetically, what if the team mandated that girls had to wear a standard jersey and black pants, but one of them tied the jersey up to expose her mid section and wore yoga pants? would you still have a problem with it, because she has taken control of the situation?
    in the internet age of selfies, thigh-gap, and bikini bridges, i’m not so sure some of these girls wouldn’t wear something like without being told. There is a significant portion of the population that is incredibly narcissistic and enjoys attention based on their looks, men and women included. so i don’t think its anybody’s call to say a paying job that is based on physical attractiveness isn’t justified.

    I’m not saying its entirely ethical, but its justified.

    This line is an instant classic. It’s the kind of thing people say when they’ve tied themselves in knots trying to defend the indefensible.

    you say you don’t have a problem with sexuality or sexiness. but that is precisely the argument you are presenting. if the girls weren’t dressed sexy, this would be a non issue.

    Faulty reasoning. My issue is not with sex-related issues per se (you’re ignoring the “per se” part); it’s with an industry run by men that presents and packages women as sex objects. Look at the Sharks: They give the men straightforward uniforms and dress the women with bare midriffs. What is the justification — not the reason, but the justification — for that unequal treatment? Answer: There isn’t one.

    Your concept of “justification” is essentially that it’s just business. But that’s bullshit, because that can be used to justify literally anything.

    Isn’t it justification enough to say: “Many male fans want to see females and there is an adequate supply of females willing to be seen for money (i.e., not being coerced or abused)?”

    On the flip side Paul, what would be your justification for telling women they can’t clear the ice while scantily clad?

    I agree with this statement. A free country requires a free market place of values. People get to choose their own values and ethics as long as they do not harm others.

    Paul, you have a strong moral and ethical compass. I find your stance against the sporting world’s military worship and flag desecration insanely brave and am thankful that you shame it. According to your values, which I think are correct, there is no moral justification to the unnecessary sexualization of an ice crew. I think that you are doing a great job challenging the concept and defending yourself.

    Agreeing with Adam, there is a free marketplace of values. People get to pick and choose which morals, ethics and lifestyles to embrace as long as they don’t harm others. Men can choose to ignorantly celebrate scantly clad women, and women can voluntarily choose to be the objects of such celebration.

    On a uni-note: I think the way the Blackhawks ice crew incorporates uniform features into their outfits is adorable. The skirt looks like the bottom of the real sweater and sometimes they wear shorts styled like hockey pants.

    Men can choose to ignorantly celebrate scantly clad women, and women can voluntarily choose to be the objects of such celebration.

    And we can choose to criticize companies who make that their business model (not to mention laugh out loud when they then wonder why they’re not attracting the female audience they’re searching for).

    Amazing how the “free country” argument always seems to stop right before that point.

    I don’t think we can fairly add the Fox NFL sideline switch with the debate about ice girls and cheerleaders. TV networks can’t come out and say job performance was declining, or they put someone in the wrong role, but that’s exactly what happened here. It was very obvious in recent years that Pam Oliver’s sideline work had declined, too often, she rambled on awkwardly, and didn’t appear to be prepared. Oliver(who in the past had complained about her work hours), is just being moved to a lesser game, which was the appropriate move.

    Erin Andrews was badly miscast as a studio anchor, she struggled in that role from the get go. The sideline-type work is her strength, so the switch just makes sense. Anytime you have newspaper people trying to write about specific fields without the background and knowledge, it just must be taken with a grain of salt.

    I think the bigger issue is why almost all sideline reporters are women. It’s a classic ghetto-ization move. Sideline reporters add almost zero to the broadcast (when’s the last time a sideline reporter broke a story?). Meanwhile, women can’t get into the broadcast booth — they’re relegated to the eye-candy role on the sidelines. It’s bullshit.

    Woman do get into the broadcast booth.. ESPN has a female Beth Mowins) on their college football broadcast team.. i think she did a few Ohio State games last year.

    And I would assume we’ll see more as more women develop a strong interest in male sports.

    If 15 years ago, the US had 100 million football fans/devotees and only 5-10 million were female, doesn’t it stand to reason that a vast majority of all broadcasters would be male? Add in that being a former NFL player or college standout is required for about 2/3rds of the posts (thus eliminating 95% of male fans and almost all female fans), its no surprise that the relatively small group of female football fans, none of whom have played football at a high level, have had a hard time cracking into the field.

    I thought women were cast as sideline reporters because a coach whose team was screwing up on the field might be less inclined to give nasty and peevish answers to a woman’s questions than a man’s. Not that it’s right, but it has crossed my mind.

    That’s at least partially plausible as a secondary reason. Also the counter-example of Tony Siragusa would seem to bolster this suggestion as not too many coaches would mouth off to him either, while I bet plenty of coaches would derive no small pleasure from channeling their inner R. Lee Ermey on Joe Buck.

    Don’t let Erin, Holly Rowe and other female sideline reporters say that they are eye candy and nothing else. They might take exception to that. Personally, I have no issue with any of this. A woman’s right to choose you know.

    Lets not forget Hockey games are show business. People like seeing beautiful girls wearing revealing outfits. The girls understand their role is not just to pick up ice. They are performers in a sense.

    no, he said show business, not business. show business, like it or not, and you don’t like it apparently, is going to be performed by people who fit the conventional standard of beauty. we’re shallow. we like pretty people to perform.
    justification is subjective. what might not be justifiable to you, might make perfect sense to me. everyone has a different threshold. unless you’re Darren Rovell. then anything goes as long as it helps build the brand!

    Even if it were somehow necessary to have “pretty people” clearing the ice with a shovel (which it isn’t), I fail to see how that translates into the need for push-up bras and other sex-kitten attire. I also fail to see why the male ice-cleaners don’t wear similarly sexualized outfits.

    The Ice Girls thing is very simple. Advertising is only effective when you can get people to look at it. Ice girls get people to look at them, and in essence the advertising. What drives up the cost of advertising? Visibility. So this isn’t about objectifying women, though in reality it actually is completely about objectifying women. From a “business standpoint” it’s about increasing the value of their advertising around the rink.

    Just a point of clarification, I’m not saying morally it should be done. That’s just the reason. Personally I do find it reprehensible. I find a lot of business decisions reprehensible.

    What letter did the kickers have? Unless I’m missing something, I don’t see any in the team photo.

    I’m sure there were no players who were “just” kickers. Back then, the kicker duties were handled by a position player (most likely). So I’m sure the chaps who did the kicking were also playing another position for which they were assigned a different alpha-numerical combo.

    The justification is that they are trying to entertain people. Some people find the ice girls entertaining. Some find the Hockey game entertaining, some like the atmosphere or the half time show. Not everyone goes to the game just for Hockey. The owners are trying to make sporting events more appealing to people who aren’t the biggest fans of the sports themselves. They try and put on a show that will keep everyone entertained.

    “Here, wear this see-thru top. Whaddaya mean you don’t wanna wear it? It’s OK — it’s just entertainment!”


    The point is not whether they’re forced — that would be a legal issue. Nobody’s saying this stuff is illegal.

    The issue is that this industry, which is largely run by men, has a pattern of presenting and packaging women as sex objects.

    If you’re OK with that, well, that’s your prerogative. But some of us aren’t OK with it.

    So, after we get sports teams to stop using cheerleaders, do we go after the fashion, music, or movie industries? Presenting and packaging attractive people of either gender as sex objects isn’t likely to go away any time soon.

    Some women have a history of packaging themselves as sex objects. If you’re not okay with that, that’s your prerogative. Some of us are OK with it.

    Re: Jay Harris saying LeBron can’t wear #6 because it’s too “college.” Come on, Jay. You can only wear numerals between 0-5 in the college game.

    “[S]cantily clad, all-female staffs of ushers, or turnstile attendants, or hot dog vendors” are unacceptable? Ladies and gentlemen, the question at hand–and I think I speak for all of us here–is, why does Paul hate America?

    Elements of Rockford every week: Dennis yelling at him, great car chase with the Camaro, usually in a parking garage, and getting the snot beat out of him, staggering back to trailer, flopping on couch, steak over one eye, beer in his right hand. That’s all you needed for the plot- everything else was just details.

    Good topic today. I don’t find the notion of cheerleaders, or any other job where women have to be sexy, to be entertaining. Believe it or not, if I go to a game, I just want to watch a game, not leer at girls or deal with other sideshow things. I generally dislike the pandering to the “man’s man” demographic. I don’t care for cars, girls (except for my wife), or beer.

    Fox Sports North (Upper midwest Fox Sports regional channel) has Fox Sports North Girls. They were tight team attire and literally do nothing but tell us when the Twins play or when the next Wild game in on during commercials. Or promote some lame event they will be at.

    I absolutely hate it.

    Paul, I think where we disagree is that ogling ice girls is harmless and does not disregard their intellectual abilities nor reduce their worth in society,nor define them as merely an object of sexual pleasure.

    Exactly. Isn’t it possible to find women both attractive and intellectual? Form and function are not mutually exclusive.

    There are those of us who are employed on the basis of what we know, and there are those of us who are employed on the basis of how we look. Hopefully, that’s a choice we are free to make. But the reason I’m anxious to disparage ice girls, Hooters’ waitresses and the like is the way they reinforce ugly cultural stereotypes. If it were sexy guys sweeping the ice, at least they would be turning a cultural trope on its head.

    So, sexualization is bad when we’ve seen it before, but good when it’s new?

    If “It’s always been this way” is a poor defense, so is “It’s never been this way”.

    As female viewership and fandom has increased in all sports it will be interesting to see how some of these things change. For example, on SF Giants broadcasts Mike Krukow in recent years has started to refer to female fans as ‘Gamer Babes’. He means it respectfully. In his mind he is referring to a hardcore female fan. The term caught on and some women think of it as a badge of honor and the Giants even had a ‘Gamer Babe’ promotion scheduled for this year.
    However, there has been quite a backlash lately as there has been a vocal group (a vocal minority? A formerly silent majority? I don’t know) and the event was changed to ‘Gamer Day’. The gist of their argument was ‘what does my gender have to do with my fandom. I am a hardcore fan. Period.’
    Their was an enlightening twitter exchange which was actually very thoughtful and smart and respectful (on twitter, go figure. Lol) between the Giants director of digital media @srabe and @hangingsliders.
    It was never something I would of thought about but it was very interesting hearing how it affected others.

    Good stuff about the Kentucky and LSU numbers. I had seen and sent in old photos of Minnesota and I think it was BYU wearing more then 2 digits.

    The ice girls aren’t necessary as you put it, but neither is watching a hockey game. They are trying to increase the entertainment.

    The reason they wear push up bras and other “sex-kitten attire” is that is what their market likes to see. There would be no point if they just wore regular clothes. The point is the ENTERTAIN. The fans could see girls in regular clothes anywhere.

    The reason they don’t have men wearing sexualized outfits is that, that is not what the market wants to see. If Hockey teams had the same market as Chippendale’s then it would make sense.

    The reason they wear push up bras and other “sex-kitten attire” is that is what their market likes to see. There would be no point if they just wore regular clothes. The point is the ENTERTAIN. The fans could see girls in regular clothes anywhere.

    Eighty years ago: “The reason they wear blackface and perform exaggerated racial stereotypes is that is what their market likes to see. There would be no point if they just wore regular clothes. The point is to ENTERTAIN. The audience can see black people in regular clothes anywhere.”


    You could make the same argument against stip clubs. Are you against strip clubs as well?

    Nope. Because at least they’re honest about selling sex. They’re not pretending to be something they’re not. They’re also regulated, so impressionable children don’t see them.

    You usually do a pretty great job at pointing out logical fallacies and shitty non-arguments, as you’ve already done several times upthread.

    But this analogy kinda sucks.

    Could you please explain why you think it sucks, instead of simply asserting it?

    To further develop my point: Ted said essentially said that whatever the audience/market/etc. wants is OK. Taking him at his word, I gave the example of a form of entertainment that was once very popular, but that most of us would now say is not OK. What exactly “sucks” about that comparison?

    It’s reductio ad hitlerum!

    By analogizing the rationale for sex kitten outfits* to the rationale for black face, you are inviting a comparison between sex kitten outfits and black face. Obviously black face cannot be justified, and invokes a negative response. That’s why it’s a false analogy. I should hope you agree that there is a world of difference between a woman choosing to wear a revealing outfit and a white man dressing up as a black man.

    *I agree that the sex kitten outfits are stupid.

    My basic point was: you’re not elevating the discussion by making such a comparison. You’re usually better than that.

    Obviously black face cannot be justified, and invokes a negative response. That’s why it’s a false analogy.

    No, that’s why it’s a *very powerful* analogy.

    My point was not to draw moral equivalence; my point was that Ted’s intellectual argument — “If the audience wants it, that’s self-justifyingly OK” — doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

    My basic point was: you’re not elevating the discussion by making such a comparison. You’re usually better than that.

    You’re missing the point. An intellectual argument, such as “If it’s what the audience wants, then it’s OK,” shoudl be able to hold up no matter what example you feed into it — even extreme examples.

    For instance, the 1st Amendment protects free expression, even if Nazis want to march in Skokie. That’s what the 1st Amenedment is such a great piece of legislation – it protects everyone, even people who are despicable.

    But Ted’s argument isn’t about expression being legally protected. His argument is that if the audience wants it, then it’s justified. That’s a perfectly fine argument — but it took me five seconds to prove it wrong. And it’s not an offensive comparison; it’s a perfectly legitimate way of showing that his intellectual argument is flawed.

    You asked why they wear sexualized clothes. I answered. I never said that just because it audience wants it, it is OK. What are you talking about proving me wrong? I think it is Ok because it is not hurting anyone.

    The analogy doesn’t hold up because black face is a disparaging act toward one group by another. Women choosing to show some skin is not.

    A better comparison may be – what if the ‘ice boys’ decided to go out their naked and the team approved it. They have every right to do so, and the fans have every right not to show up at the next game. It would be up to management to decided if the market would support it as a continued practice.

    Entertain who? Heterosexual women attend these games. Homosexual men attend these games. African American people attend these games. Families of all races attend these games.

    Ice girls happen when the leading sports magazine’s (SI) leading issue (swimsuit edition) dresses women only in body paint and considers that part of sports.

    There’s a great “Doonesbury” strip in which Boopsie is modeling swimsuits for an SI-ish publication, and the photographer or art director tells her, “OK, now arch your back and think about what we’re selling here.” And she leans back and thinks, “Sportswear.”

    That having been said, I am a hypocrite. I don’t linger over the bodypai…err, swimsuit edition, but I do take a look.

    I attend around a dozen Blackhawks games a year and when the team first trotted out the “Ice Crew” a few years ago, every woman around me in the section looked around to make eye contact with every other woman in the section. We were pretty disgusted by it. I remember a few boos and a few “What the fuck?”s.

    It’s a tricky situation for women. On one hand, hey, it’s a job and if they can make some money, that’s a good thing. On the other hand, why do they have to look so damn slutty? You want to tell them that they can do better than that and to stand up for themselves tell the powers that be to stop the objectifying, but you know damn well there’s another girl right behind her that would be more than happy to take her place. It’s a societal/gender issue that I wish to hell more women and girls would take seriously.

    When the Ice Crew takes the ice to start shoveling the piles left for them along the boards, you can see that each of them has a specific role. The girls that can really skate and have some muscles will actually do a pretty good job of shoveling the snow, the ones that are a little lacking in prowess with manual labor abilities do little pirouettes and wave. Meanwhile, there are 6 guys on the ice, furiously skating back and forth trying to clear the entire surface. Why aren’t they topless and in short-shorts? They get to wear long pants, zipped up pullovers and caps.

    It makes me (and quite a few of my pals) pretty damn mad – as I said earlier – at the girls who are freely entering into this employment and it also makes me really, really mad at management for not only the objectifying, but also the fact that they are showing their female (sexual orientation not factored in) fans that they care more about pleasing the male fans of the team.

    A few seasons ago, someone had the bright idea to have a live, 3-man band playing at the base of a section of seats. It was a head-banging, heavy metal band. Again – entertainment skewed for the male fan. It had to be for men because – AND not that it matters, they were not the most attractive of human beings. Now – if that all male band was hired to lure the ladies – why weren’t they in sexy getups? If they weren’t hired to entertain female fans – why not? Why more entertainment for the guys?

    I don’t know what the Blackhawks feel their male to female fan ratio is, but it’s got to be really, really close to 55% male/45% female. Now, that may very well be different in other markets, but I can only speak in regards to the ‘Hawks. Everything seems skewed to entertain the male fans – even team logoed apparel/knick knacks.

    I also have a friend whose daughter is one of the Ice Crew girls. Her dad (my friend) has played and coached hockey his entire life and her brother is following that same path. She loves hockey. She loves being on the ice and she loves being around hockey players and the supporting staff – it’s an environment in which she grew up and is extremely comfortable. She loves the gig. While I fully support her right to have the job, it just saddens me that she has to do it looking like she does and have managment use her sexuality to please fans. She’s also said that the players are pretty respectful of the crew. Yes, it may be a mandate from managment to not fraternize with the ladies, but she says many of the guys treat the girls like their sisters and also makes the job enjoyable. It also makes me feel better as I don’t get the feeling managment is trying to supply some “alternate entertainment” for the players.

    Like I said earlier, it’s a societal issue and it needs to change.

    (For the record, I also will not step foot inside a Tilted Kilt – that company’s policies infuriate me.)

    Sorry if my thoughts aren’t very well put together, I’m speed-typing this as I’ve got a project that’s got a serious deadline quickly approaching.

    – Jen

    commenting here, because i can’t reply to the thread anymore. it seems your problem with this is with the man who has his finger on the button. and that someone else may ultimately be making a few bucks off of these girls’ appearance. I get the whole exploitation factor, and I agree with you there (hence my unethical comment)
    But i don’t think we can call this practice unjustifiable and wrong because business is involved. this is a job to be professionally good looking. some jobs you need to know excel, some you just have to look good.
    so, no, my argument is not “bullshit”, just because you and I have differing opinions on what is justified.
    you work for one of the largest media corporations in the world. They make billions of dollars a year off of free labor, otherwise known as college sports. do you feel justified in taking a paycheck from them? its just business, right?

    this is a job to be professionally good looking.

    Shoveling the ice requires someone to be “professionally good-looking”??

    Um, no.

    You’re working with circular reasoning. Yeah, once the team *decided* to make this a sex-role job, then sexiness was required. But there was no reason to make this a sex-role job in the first place. That’s the issue.

    come on, we all know that these girls weren’t hired to shovel ice. the job is too look good and skate around in tight clothes for the predominately male audience.

    That’s another thing – in some markets, is the audience predominately male?

    i think it is. not as much as it used to be, because now we are teaching girls that they CAN play hockey and like sports without being the cheerleader, which is great.

    i’m not trying to make the argument that ice girls are a good thing. they’re not. they do reinforce a negative stereotype. but i also don’t think this thing is morally bankrupt. there are larger atrocities within our society than some girls skating around in tight pants.

    I hear ya, Keith, in regards to your not thinking the ice girls are a good thing.

    BUT – while there are larger atrocities – it doesn’t mean that everything else should get a pass while we try to right other wrongs. Multi-task, if you will.

    come on, we all know that these girls weren’t hired to shovel ice. the job is too look good and skate around in tight clothes for the predominately male audience.

    So your position is (a) that they are there to sell sex, and (b) that this is OK.

    Well, at least you’re honest about it. Now if only the teams could be honest too: “See our sex revue!”

    Look, here’s what it comes down to: We all know women are marginalized, stereotyped and exploited in our society. Not as much as they once were, but still too much (because *any* is too much). We also know that these ice girls are part of that problem — they perpetuate ridiculous gender stereotypes, they set a terrible example for our children, and they’re a textbook example of our culture being less than it can be.

    We’re better than this — or at least we should be. The sports industry has made lots of strides in other areas. I hope they makes strides in this one too.

    i really thought the stories how cheerleaders in the NFL are treated would really start a movement to do away with them. its such an antiquated role. the big strong men play football, and the pretty girls cheer them on. its silly.
    but there are women who legitimately enjoy taking on these roles. especially dance teams for professional sports. i was friends with a cheerleader in college. it was something that she really enjoyed. so i don’t see how you or i as middle aged men, can tell women what they should or shouldn’t do.
    now if JeninChicago had written a piece about her friend’s daughter being mistreated as an icegirl, i’d feel a lot differently. but her experience was positive. i’m not going to shame someone for their job if the enjoy doing it.

    You keep going back to the “custodial duties” and “shoveling ice” argument, but according to the audition page there a few more responsibilities they have


    Responsibilities of an ICE TEAM member include, but are not limited to:
    Maintain Ice during television timeouts and intermissions
    Greet Fans
    Energize Crowd
    Assist in promotions and intermission activities
    Interact with fans (autographs and take photos with fans when appropriate)
    Assist with in-game video feature shoots as needed
    Assist with special events/marketing promotions as needed
    Participate in Ice Team photo opportunities and promotions.

    Wow, I feel so stupid now. I can totally see how halter tops and push-up bras are needed for those activities. And why the male staffers can just dress like normal people.

    You really want to see a typical groundscrew guy running around in a Speedo? ((Shudder))

    The new cavs logo has to be a maroon and gold/orange color only. No royal blue in this color combo set


    Orange and Blue

    It perpetuates the (unfortunately) firmly-entrenched stereotypes of a) women as men’s sex objects, and b) men as unthinking horndogs.

    We can do better for the generations to come, right? I don’t want my daughter growing up believing that it’s normal to dress like a stripper to satisfy the slobbering gazes of half-drunk goons.

    I disagree. So if a woman ogles a man, then they are thinking of men as only sex objects and are unthinking horndogs?

    You can be attracted to someone and not only think of them as sex objects.

    Also some people like to dress like a stripper and satisfy the slobbering gazes of half-drunk goons. It IS NORMAL to a percentage of the population. It doesn’t hurt anyone.

    You could make the same argument about homosexuality if you didn’t like it. You don’t want your daughter growing up believing it’s normal for two men to be married.


    I don’t understand. I am a guy but seriously, do we need to have women in suggestive clothing around us at all times? As that is the only means to entertain us? It’s embarrassing to be honest.

    It’s the same with movies. “Yeah but so-and-so hot actress is naked in this movie”. So what? 1. It’s probably a body double. 2. If you are that desperate to see the female body naked, you clearly haven’t heard of the internet or need to get out more.

    It truly is mind boggling how men put up with this, let alone women.

    Ice girls are not alone in doing that. If you’re going to call it out, call it out across the board. Call out the swimsuit edition. Call out the body issue. Call out the NFL cheerleaders (which Paul did).

    If it’s an issue it isn’t just an NHL issue.


    I am far from a prude and don’t have a problem taking my daughter to sporting events but I find the ice girls at the Ducks games unnecessary.

    Do I want my daughter to grow up to be an ice girl? No.
    Do I want her to wear skimpy outfits all around town? No.

    Then why do I need to see this kind of thing at a hockey game?

    Yes, the ice girls provide some very mild form of entertainment, but no more so than Kiss Cam or the Hockey Song. Moreover, the point of going to the game is to watch the game and cheer. We can argue about the merits of cheerleaders, but they have some nominal effect of helping the crowd get involved (at least in high school and college basketball and football). Ice girls provide none of that.

    Why exactly would that be “better”? It would be different, but what makes it specifically better. so if I’d personally find it to be worse so then it must be worse right, since you think it would be better and that’s just your opinion. My opinion is just as valid as yours, correct?

    If it is such a good idea why aren’t all the male staff at sporting events in their speedos?

    Is it just me, or is anyone else monumentally sick of Star Wars promotions at baseball games? Why does the MLB/MILB have to do everything to death?

    I went to a Phx Suns game that had a Star Wars night. It was awesome. Reminded me alot of ABA theme nights

    They had a lazor light show and the pregame intro was a star war themed (once in a galaxy far far ways SUNS WARS) it was epic. all the players had star wars names in the programs

    me too.. though i am way over Star Wars, it wasn’t that great of movies to start of with.. and got even worse with the new movies

    I think the issue is eye candy has been the ONLY visible role for women in a very visible industry. More light needs to be shed on the women in the industry like Kim Ng, who work their way up the ladder, and earn leadership roles for their teams and leagues.

    When there’s more equality in the rest of the front office, we might be a little less inclined to be concerned about fluff like ice dancers and sideline reporters.

    Yes, exactly.

    When female sideline reporters were introduced, it was couched as a way into the industry for women, with the implicit promise that they’d work their way up into the broadcast booth. In short, it was an opportunity.

    Now it’s obvious that it’s not an opportunity — it’s just ghetto-ization.

    for all the back and forth about the ice girls, that LSU numbering system is probably one of my favorite uni-watch posts ever. can you imagine if that caught on? everyone would be rushing out to buy their Manziel Q2 jerseys. i’m all for it…make the switch!

    This morning’s post on the LSU uniform numbers was picked up by the Baton Rouge “Advocate”…makes me wonder who the other UniWatch readers in my area are…


    The jerseys that the Yankees wore yesterday are jerseys that they wore last year, also, for Military Appreciation Day. I was at the game last year against the Twins. It’s an actual one-off uniform because they seem to only wear it that one day a year. They did wear camouflage for Memorial Day, but that was on the road vs. St. Louis. I believe this is the first time they have worn the home camo since that game last year against the Twins.

    HEY! Why is nobody bitching about the Bulls and Mavericks, who have (had?) a bunch of fat guys dance around on the court? Why are fat men the object of entertainment? Why cant a morbidly obese woman go out there?

    Because when men do it, its funny. Its entertainment. Those men got the job knowing they are fat, and will serve as entertainment. Just like how the ice girls were hired knowing what they were getting into. They are entertainers.

    Sports are entertainment. The bosses will do what they have to, to entertain people and make money. If you dont like it, turn off the TV, or dont go. These women arent forced into the job. They know what they are there for. Everybody may not agree with it, but hey, thats America.

    link is one of my all-time favorite ticker entries.

    I’ve always wondered if sheep get cold after they’re shorn.

    No. No. No. No.
    Sigh. I love you city folk, because we feed you and we get meagerly compensated.

    I’ll educate. These are show sheep. After a sheep is washed (typically less than 24 before the show)
    , they get covered in these “sheep blankets” until the show is over.
    They keep the animal clean and prevents sawdust or straw from getting caught in the wool (which is like the soft side of velcro, stuff really sticks to it!)

    As for getting cold, sheep are typically shorn in the late spring, long after the snow season over.

    I finally got to use my ranch know-how in a Uni-Watch comment!
    If we put the Sharks’ ice girls in these outfits would they still be “over sexualized”?

    I can’t see how anyone could possibly consider someone wearing an assless spandex outfit with skates to be oversexualized.

    Paul, thanks for calling out the sexualization still rampant in pro sports. My daughter (9) is a competitive cheerleader and talks about wanting to be a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader someday and sadly I cringe and the thought. I wish it wasn’t that way. I too have no issue with sex but it frustrates me to see stereotypes being reinforced so the assumed male demographic has something gawk at during timeouts.

    IF she is an adult woman, it is her choice to make when the time comes. Thing is, this shouldn’t be her career path. Just something she does because she wants to and likes it. Pretty much is true of all NFL cheerleaders in that they have a career and they do the cheerleader thing because they enjoy it.

    Just so I am clear with the objectification thing, women performing as cheerleaders, etc, in scantily clad outfits bad because men will be ogling them. So I take that men here who dislike this sort of thing never ever ogle a woman walking down the street that is attractive and dressed sexy? Or, you never go to the pool or beach and ogle beautiful women in skimpy bikinis? These things are objectifying females just as much as anything else.

    I had the pleasure of meeting James Garner on several occasions. He was exactly how many pictured him; genuine and likable.

    Mr. Garner was a huge Oklahoma Sooner football fan (so much so that his voice was featured on the team intro video for a number of years). He was also a donor to the school and contributed to the arts program. But his love of Sooner football was what many Okies know about him.

    Over the years, I have looked for images of Mr. Garner in some kind of OU attire. To this day, I’ve never seen him in a jersey, polo or jacket with anything OU related. He was a fan, but didn’t care to show it off. My kind of guy!

    RIP Mr. Garner.

    On the topic of letters in uniform numbers, one very special example from soccer: here’s Louis Tomlinson of One Direction fame playing in Stiliyan Petrov’s charity testimonial match last season.
    The popstar had signed a contract with his home town club Doncaster Rovers before the start of the 13-14 season, and played in this charity match at Celtic Park. Memorably, he was tackled by Gabriel Agbonlahor, resulting in the Aston Villa player receiving a mass of death threats from angry “Directioners”.

    I’ve been out all day. My first thought on seeing “194 comments” was, “I wonder what Daniel Snyder did today.”

    If the Washingtons introduced a ballgirl team of “‘Skins Squaws”, featuring feathered headdresses, micro-mini leather breechclouts, halter tops and “Pigskin Papooses” strapped to their backs, UniWatch would explode in a some horrific convergence of righteous indignation, myopic traditionalism, and weird free market advocacy.

    “If the Washingtons introduced a ballgirl team of “‘Skins Squaws”, featuring feathered headdresses, micro-mini leather breechclouts, halter tops and “Pigskin Papooses” strapped to their backs…”


    Please do not give Messrs Snyder and Allen any ideas.

    Objectification is in the eye of the objectifier.

    I don’t know which is more laughable: hard-core conservatives like Jerry Falwell complaining about it in the 1980’s, or hard-core urban progressives complaining about it in the 2010’s.

    I’d be fine with getting rid of all cheerleaders, ice girls, etc. I’m watching the game for the sport, not to get an erection.

    I’ve got the internet for that.

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