Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Last 24 Hours

It's been a pretty exciting time for the NWHL and its followers in the last 24 hours. There was the big announcement of a new corporate partner in Dunkin Donuts which is an excellent brand with which to associate. It's well-known, it has a good following, and their statements seem to indicate that they want to partner with women's sports. They even made Meghan Duggan part of their branding as she signed a deal with them. However, while all well and good on the sponsorship front, there was one blog that posted some negative information about a deal the NWHL never had that caused social media circles to interpret the meaning of said article in rather profound and unsubstantiated ways.

While I appreciate the fact that they read the article, I do have a problem with none of them approaching me to ask where I sourced the material, why I wrote it as I did, why I presented it at all, and what my end-game was in posting it the day before a major press conference which I knew a few of them, including the one writer I called out, would attend. Not one of them opened dialogue with me about the article. Not a single, solitary soul.

Here's the thing: I'm not a journalist. I'll never claim to be one. I'll never make that jump because I don't have a journalism degree. I haven't spent years in university learning the craft nor have I spent my time in the trenches covering cat fashion shows and reporting on old men yelling at clouds, so I don't have the experience nor the talents to put me alongside some of analysts and experts who have been hired from the internet world for greener and greater pastures. People can call me biased and accuse me of favoritism because I readily admit I do have biases and favorites. I can be objective, but it's fun to be subjective too. That's why I'm a blogger and not a journalist.

In saying this, I tossed that article out with the hopes that one person at that press conference yesterday had the cojones to ask NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan about it. I had hoped that the writer I called out in my previous article would have wanted to clear her name because she was at the press conference where she could have closed the book on this. I had hoped that someone would have had the integrity to question the league on a rather small topic that none could disprove to that point. I had hoped that someone would vet the story and look deeper past an emailed press release that made a claim that was entirely false.

Because that's what real journalists do.

Instead, all I heard was silence. Not one of those that questioned my intentions actually asked me about them. Not one of those who labeled me with a variety of terms stepped forward to find out why I published the article. Not one of them wanted to know more. Not one of them said a peep to me. And not one of them asked the league about this story.

I was open to discussing my article in an objective manner, but that time has now passed. You had your window of opportunity to confirm or deny what I presented by asking the NWHL about it and you chose to ignore that opportunity. Instead, you'll continue to watch the league made of rainbows and butterflies once more and excuse the major mistakes it made along the way. You'll continue to avoid rocking the boat because the more you play nice with the NWHL, the more access you get. You'll be overwhelmed by the taste of the Kool-Aid because of the face-to-face access you get with your female hockey heroes. And you'll continue to believe every press release that is emailed and passed your way because this league is allowed to make mistakes that would blow up in the face of the NHL if they had made the same mistakes.

If the NWHL wants to be taken seriously, it should be scrutinized the same way that any other league is. If the league is given free passes when serious errors are made and untrue information is published by the bloggers that cover it, the league will never gain the legitimacy it hopes to achieve. In turn, those who are writing about it to inform the masses will never been seen as legitimate information sources if they don't question the league on serious matters that arise. A venue switch with a flimsy reason for the switch is one that should have been questioned in June when the press release was sent out.

The rose-colored glasses have to come off sometimes. Hard questions that may make people uncomfortable need to be asked occasionally to show some semblance of objectivity. Finding out that this "perfect" league isn't so perfect doesn't make it less of a league that is doing good for women's hockey. It simply means that a discussion should be had with those that made the decision to cover up the venue change, and there should be a public retraction of the false story. Mistakes do happen, but correcting these rather simple errors with an apology and a retraction at this point would make it easier to warm up to those that did cover this up.

I'm not sorry for the discussion this caused in circles of which I'm not a part. I'm glad it stirred the pot among those who think this league can do no wrong despite there being very clear proof that they have done wrong. While the attacks on my writing style and my person are one thing, not one of these NWHL supporters even bothered to ask the league about the story and not one of them decided to engage the writer in a conversation about the article which was the spark that set off these discussions.

I'm tired of being labeled and accused of something I'm not when I want the same thing you do: a long-term, sustainable, viable league or leagues in which women can play hockey and be paid for entertaining me, the common fan. So if you want to talk behind my back about me, you can all kiss my ass while you're back there.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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