Chicago Tribune's sexist hockey dis

The paper mocks Philadelphia Flyer Chris Pronger -- by putting him in a skirt

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published June 9, 2010 3:27PM (EDT)

Chicago Tribune mocks Philadelphia Flyers' "Chrissy" Pronger. (Brian Frederick)
Chicago Tribune mocks Philadelphia Flyers' "Chrissy" Pronger. (Brian Frederick)

Chris Pronger skates like a girl. As the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves on the verge of their first Stanley Cup victory in 49 years, their hometown paper decided Tuesday to take an ostensibly humorous swipe at the opposition -- by running a poster of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman "Chrissy Pronger" in his uniform shirt and a dainty figure skater's skirt. The caption? "Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane."

Predictably, battle lines were quickly drawn regarding the send-up of the most despised man on ice.  Commenters on the Trib's Web page ran the gamut from calling it "Terrible, tasteless, babyish poor sportsmanship" to "damn funny." Blah blah blah sexist blah blah blah lighten up.

We are faced with two possibilities here: either the editorial brain trust at the Trib is still so deeply entrenched in the 19th century they actually believe that it's acceptable to deprecate a man by comparing him to a woman, or they knew the insult would drum up controversy and decided to run with it. Or maybe it's a little of both, which would make them stupid and cynical in equal measures.

Because, you see, for a jibe to work, there needs to be a truth to it. And, like the Tribune's relevance, the notion that women can't bring it in sports is a vestige of the past.

Speaking to the Associated Press Wednesday, four-time American Olympic hockey medalist Angela Ruggiero said, "I'd like to see that editor out on skates. I'll take them one-on-one on the ice any day. They obviously have never seen women's hockey and are living in the dark ages."

The Tribune's sports editor, Mike Kellams, responded by saying, "There are no qualifiers here: for her and those who have been offended by this, I really do apologize," promptly qualifying with, "We were just trying to have some fun in the paper. I don't think that's against the law."

It's okay, Trib. You think Pronger skates like a Jane? Just one minor correction: It's spelled Jayna. As in Brampton Thunder forward Jayna Hefford, three-time Canadian Olympic gold medalist, Women's Hockey League MVP and all time goal scorer, and "arguably the best female hockey player in the World." So if, at Wedneday's do-or-die game, the Flyers play like girls, you'll no doubt soon be dusting off another familiar fan phrase in your sports pages: Wait till next year.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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