Hockey fans are hypocrites. Maybe not all of them, and maybe not you, but a LOT of them are definitely hypocrites.
Georges Laraque is in trouble this week for appearing in a TV ad for an alcoholic, caffeinated drink that walks the line between what league policy allows an NHLer to endorse and what it doesn't. That's fine, and the league should examine the ad to make sure it doesn't violate its rules. (The idea of a hockey player a lot of kids admire promoting energy drinks many health professionals say are harmful to their health is another issue altogether.) But the other trouble Laraque finds himself in is with women's groups who say the nearly-naked women who appear in the ad, playing road hockey with Laraque, are being exploited.
It doesn't surprise me that women's-rights advocates look askance at yet another ad aimed at young men that uses scantily-clad females to grab some attention. What does surprise me, though, is the number of hockey fans who slam that point of view because they like looking at women's butt cheeks hanging out of their tiny shorts. They like closeups of large boobs and they like long hair and longer legs. I've got no problem with people liking the images, but that doesn't mean the women who oppose them shouldn't have a differing opinion, just as legitimate as the one of the people who enjoy Laraque's ad.
That, however, isn't what makes hockey fans hypocrites. What makes them hypocrites is the reaction ESPN magazine got for its images of hockey players in this week's Body issue. Zdeno Chara and a trio of Oilers, including ex-Hab Sheldon Souray, pose in the altogether...tastefully, and even humourously shot...in the issue. The almost universal opinion of hockey fans, however, is that the images are repulsive, in bad taste and generally disgusting. A lot of fans aren't hiding feelings of homophobia when they talk about the pictures being "gay." This is what I don't get.
Why is it acceptable to admire the mostly-naked women in Laraque's commercial, but not acceptable to see hockey players showing their bodies? I admit, Chara's ugly mug doesn't do much for the otherwise artistic shot of him in the ESPN magazine. But the picture isn't disgusting or threatening. And the shot of the Oiler guys is whimsical and entertaining. It's not exactly gay porn.
I'm not saying all hockey fans are hypocrites in this way. Or that you're one of them. But if you enjoy the women in Georges Laraque's Octane ad, while you think Chara's picture is horrible, you might want to ask yourself why that's so.