Why Does Hockey Appeal to the Everyday Housewife?

Dig those orange helmets: A 1979 Fort Worth Texans program, with cover photo credited to Vivitar Corp and Bill Bartlett - Dusty Archives

This and other critical questions about women and hockey were answered in the 1979 game program of the Fort Worth Texans.

Oh, the headline? I can explain: Due to some major house work, I've had to go through bins and cabinets of the kind of artifacts you stash rather than throw away because you know some day in the future you'll fall over when you rediscover them.

Among those rediscoveries is a March 1979 game program of the Fort Worth Texans, the Central Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders at that time. The team was coached by Bill MacMillan and featured future Isles like Steve Tambellini and Darcy Regier. (Incidentally, that night's opponent, Salt Lake City, included future Isles coach Rick Bowness.)

To call the publication a prized possession does not do it justice, and not just because of the vintage photos of Bowtie Bill Torrey and Jimmy Devellano, nor the ad for "Fort Worth's Finest Adult Club and Discoteque: DEBBIE and RHONDA cordially invite you to Fort Worth's GREATEST HAPPY HOUR 3* for 1."

*Not sure who the third is ... or did I read that wrong?

I wish I could share every page of this ostensibly hockey-related publication with you, dear reader. Its fine pages include:

  • explanations of offside and icing;
  • an ad asking "Why settle for a Cutlass, Regal, Grand Prix or Monte Carlo, when you can still have a full-size car for about the same price like the Cordoba by Chrysler?"
  • and a fantastic beach ad for [a light beer of some sort]'s famous "Tastes Great, Less Filling" campaign featuring Billy Martin (twice), Phil Rizzuto, Rodney Dangerfield, Whitey Ford, Deacon Jones and Boom-Boom Geoffrion, among others.
Hockey is Sexy and Scars are Romantic

There is so much more. But the best may be an op/ed of sorts simply titled, "Women and Hockey." It begins:

Why does hockey appeal to a with-it high school senior? Why does hockey appeal to a happily married professional woman? Why does hockey appeal to the everyday housewife?

Among the reasons cited for this sport's appeal to the "hundreds of well-groomed (Damn this term means two totally different things in 1979 vs. 2012), smartly dressed females of all ages here tonight?":

  • "Hockey is sensual and sexy."
  • "Hockey provides a sense of security."
  • "The fights and hard body-checking in hockey appeal to women's suppressed aggressive impulses..."
  • "Hockey is a simple game, not like baseball and football." [i.e. she doesn't have to learn a bunch of rules to get respect.]
  • "Hockey offers emotional involvement and women need emotional involvement to be happy and satisfied creatures."
  • "Hockey also gives a woman an opportunity to release her pent up emotions by yelling and screaming and yet still remain a lady."
  • "Hockey provides a reality -- an absence of sham -- that may be lacking in a woman's personal relationships. These players get hurt. They bleed right before your eyes [...] the scars show. They are not fake. And scars are appealing and romantic."

I am not making any of this up. In the unnamed author's defense, each of the above bullets goes into extensive elaboration, citing discussions with a psychiatrist from Temple University. So there.

The piece ends with:

"Not all female hockey fans marry hockey players, of course, or even fellow hockey fans. Quite recently, one of our female ticket holders announced she'd fallen in love. Her friends were disbelieving because HE isn't a fan -- until she missed a game, the first one in three years. And that was the convincer. "It's gotta be love," they said. "Only her first love could make her miss her second."

Awww, even DEBBIE and RHONDA could appreciate that, one assumes.

But seriously, overall the artifact is a great snapshot in time -- of old (and since reconstituted, sort of) minor leagues, of bygone ways of trying to broaden hockey's gender appeal, and early forays into non-traditional hockey markets.

It's also a reminder that some things never change. I mean, hockey is still "sensual and sexy," amiright?

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