Milbury steps in it
In the latest episode of “sports talking heads say stupid things” – a long-running series – I present NHL analyst Mike Milbury.
After Brian Boucher commented about the “terrific environment” in the COVID-19 bubble, where the Stanley Cup playoffs are taking place, Milbury said:
“It’s the perfect place. Not even any women here to disrupt your concentration.”
I think his sexist remark flew under the radar a little because it was “only” the NHL (although NBC reacted by pulling him off the air). Milbury then apologized, saying, “I was trying to be irreverent and took it a step too far.”
This is one of the problems with public people when they apologize like that. They say it was a joke, and you’re accused of lacking a sense of humor if you’re skeptical.
Way behind the times
But here are three points I want to make about why Milbury’s comment was so obviously ridiculous. (As an aside, I have to say I’m really glad none of my favorites in the NHL broadcast booth – Jim Jackson, Bill Clement and Keith Jones – said this.)
First, one of Milbury’s fellow analysts is a woman! A.J. Mleczko, a former gold and silver hockey medalist with Team USA in the Olympics, is also an in-game commentator for NBC during the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as an analyst. I’ve heard her several times, and think she knows her stuff.
Second, millions of women in the U.S. and Canada are serious hockey fans, not groupies.
Third, more and more women play hockey these days, and are good at it. For years, the U.S. and Canadian national teams have vied for supremacy as No. 1 in the world. Other countries are slowly catching up as women’s hockey becomes more popular.
If females were competing in a COVID-19 bubble like the men are now (all the games being played in two cities, for example), would Milbury say, “It’s the perfect place. Not even any men here to disrupt your concentration”?
Somehow I doubt it.
To me, this comes down to not taking women seriously as fans or athletes.