The last two days have been great for news if you are a fan of women’s hockey. First, on Tuesday, the NWHL announced the first outdoor game in league history between the Buffalo Beauts and Metropolitan Riveters. On Wednesday, the PWHPA announced the ‘Dream Gap Tour’. The event will bring some of the top players in the game to four cities in September and October.
These events are headline grabbers that will generate positive buzz for the sport. That alone makes the last two days huge for women’s hockey. Maybe more important is the involvement of two major organizations. One is Billie Jean King Enterprises, the company owned by the legendary Billie Jean King. The other is the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.
Give the Sharks credit here, they’ve gone where very few NHL teams have gone before. By hosting a PWHPA Vs. Sharks alumni scrimmage at SAP Center on September 22nd, the organization has extended a hand in support of the women’s game. It’s a massive first step, one that needs to be followed by more clubs.
The exposure gained by these two events will be massive, and it will only help the momentum built from the 2018 Winter Olympics. There is no debate, there is a clear appetite for women’s hockey. People who say “no one cares about women’s sports!” are simply lying to themselves. The 2018 Gold Medal game between Team USA and Team Canada was voted as the best game of the year at the ESPY’s in 2018.
The issue is the exposure this sport doesn’t get. These two events change that. The ‘Dream Gap Tour’ will extend to the biggest Canadian market in Toronto, and will stop in key US cities like Boston, Chicago and San Jose. Exposing some of the best players in the world to major markets will only help the growth of the game.
An outdoor game in a hockey-crazed city along with a major tour in 4 key markets is a huge step for the women’s game. A boost in exposure will only help the case of these great players moving forward. Make no mistake, though, this is just a step. It’s a great start, but sponsors will need to step up and put their money where their mouth is.
It’s all good to talk a big game when it comes to supporting the women’s game. It’s a completely different thing to actually step up and support it. The elite women of this game and the NWHL have each stepped up in different ways to give the game a boost in exposure. It’s time for those outside to step up and support the game.