2 min

The pansification of hockey

Egale needs something new to do with its time

THE PANSIFICATION OF HOCKEY. Josh Levy (left) says Egale seems to have entirely too much time on its hands. Credit: James Morrison

There’s a new term in the air this month, and it’s a doozy: “pansification of hockey.” The term is pejorative and implies the feminization of our beloved, and mainly manly, national sport.

Hockey Night in Canada commentator Mike Milbury used the term on air several times over the past few months to describe what would happen if the National Hockey League were to ban fighting among players.

The Great Don Cherry — himself no stranger to allegations of homophobia — says he didn’t use the term.

We all know what they meant: Banning fighting from hockey will make the sport less manly. It will fag things up. The players might skate around blowing kisses at each other, sharing their feelings and singing Kumbaya like a bunch of faggots or chicks. And what could be worse than that?

Milbury and Cherry were simply substituting a new, more politically correct, term for old-fashioned ones like “faggoty” and “girly.”

It’s homophobic and misogynistic.

The Globe and Mail reported on Jan 29 that Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy has filed a complaint with CBC Sports.

“Words like pansification just further the stereotype and perpetuate the homophobic stereotype in our society,” Kennedy told the Globe.

For its part, the CBC doesn’t seem too worried. A spokesperson said pansification was “not intended as a slur against gay people,” and seemed content to leave it at that.

It kind of was a slur.

Stephen Reid of the Toronto Gay Hockey League is unimpressed with Cherry, who he describes as the “Rush Limbaugh of hockey.”

“This is just the rantings of an old man trying to shock and awe a large audience of Canadians who love and play hockey,” he says. “However it does exacerbate the problem of homophobia in sports.”

But Reid says the joke is on Milbury and Cherry because gay hockey teams win all the time.

“Little does Don know that the pansies have been beating the so-called non-pansies in house leagues across the country for a couple of decades,” he says. “Still, Egale has a legitimate complaint, and the CBC should respond with a positive message about tolerance. Someone has to be the adult here and obviously Cherry is playing to the trash-talk crowd. We have to rise above it.”

This is the kind of story that makes me cringe. I’m not sure who elected Egale to represent the gay community. It’s a relatively tiny organization with few resources. I don’t know how it decides what to complain about and what to ignore. I don’t know why it’s national news when Kennedy gets offended. And, frankly, her comments to the Globe seem to me a bit of a dig at fey gay guys who consider themselves proud pansies.

Doesn’t she have anything better to do, some cause more worthy of her time and voice? Does Egale seriously have a mandate to police the language Don Cherry uses? I just assumed that free expression was good for everyone and that Egale understood that.

Kennedy’s complaint smacks of over-sensitivity. Let’s be realistic — this is how some men speak to each other. Hockey is full of trash talk that might appall any outsider. Sometimes the language of the locker room finds its way into the broadcast booth, especially when the commentator in question is a former player and coach.

Crying homophobia at every perceived slight makes gay people seem like a bunch of whiny pansies. I think we need to choose our battles more wisely.