Sports have long been considered a primarily dude domain. So much so that, through things like lingering camera shots on scantily clad cheerleaders, old, sexist habits can become engrained into the experience of watching sports. But thanks to a growing number of female sports fans, things are slowly but surely changing.
The latest example of that shift happened this week in Chicago. Here’s a little backstory: One of the long-running traditions at Chicago Blackhawks hockey games is a game called Shoot the Puck. In the game, a number of fans are selected during intermission in order to try to, you know, shoot the puck into the goal. (The format usually includes a child, a guy, a celebrity, and a woman.) But a group of fans took issue at the choice of music that usually accompanied the female fan’s participation: “The Stripper,” an instrumental song played by organist Frank Pellico.
That’s right, when women played the game, a song called “The Stripper” came on. Not cool.
A group of fans didn’t think so either. They launched a thoughtful petition calling for the sexism in the intermission competition to end.
“[The Blackhawks] are responsible if what they’re putting out on the ice creates certain reactions in people, and they in turn make other people feel unwelcomed, uncomfortable or unsafe,” the petition read. Fans began asking for the song to be banned on the hashtag #BanTheStripper.
Once the petition went viral and online outrage was sufficiently expressed, the Blackhawks changed their policy, and banned the song.
“As our franchise’s fan base has exploded, we’re hearing and we’re witnessing and we have to evolve with all of that,” Blackhawks president John McDonough told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We hear the feedback. We respect it. We’re distilling it right now. We want to be respectful to everyone.”
“I think you’ve heard the last of Frank Pellico playing ‘The Stripper,’” McDonough told the paper.
It’s great that the Blackhawks listened to their fans, but it’s even better that so many people came together—both men and women, hockey fans and non-fans—to make this change happen. It’s one small step, but every step counts.