Olympic silver medalist Hilary Knight practiced with the Anaheim Ducks last week and as part of promotion for USA Hockey and IIHF’s Girls Hockey Weekend, she’s been doing publicity. Thus, she gave an interview to Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale after practice on Friday. It was a disaster.
I’m not going to link to it, because I don’t want to give it any more clicks than it will already get. You know how the Google machine works if you care to look the thing up. Suffice to say Ms. Neale talked more about how pretty Hilary Knight is than about hockey. And if she did any research beforehand on any topic relevant to women’s hockey in North America, she didn’t use any of it in her conversation.
My complaints on twitter were met with this response from Emilie Wiener, formerly of Hockey Wilderness:
@Puckologist if you’re so disgusted with it, why not try to do an interview yourself so that you can get it right
— Emilie Wiener (@eminemilie) October 7, 2014
The obvious answer here is that I don’t get those opportunities. Jen Neale did. She wasted it. I can’t believe I have to make this distinction but that doesn’t make Jen Neale a bad person. It makes the whole thing a wasted opportunity.
If I did have the chance to ask Hilary Knight questions in conjunction with IIHF Girls Ice Hockey Weekend, they might go something like this.:
- The CWHL season will be starting in a few weeks. How are you feeling about the upcoming season?
- So far, Shannon Szabados, Noora Räty, and Florence Schelling have all had the opportunity to play in men’s leagues. Does the fact that they’re all goalies have anything to do with them getting that chance before female skaters? Or is that just a coincidence?
- If the chance does come through for you to play in a men’s league, will you take it?
- Some fans of women’s hockey feel that elite women moving into men’s hockey may be bad for the women’s game. They feel it diverts attention from building opportunities in women’s hockey and buys into the assumption that women are only interesting if they’re playing the way men play. How would you respond to that?
- Do you think there’s evidence that at the international level there’s movement towards parity? Are other countries making strides towards becoming competitive with Canada and the United States?
- Let’s talk about getting girls into hockey. There is still a lot of pressure on young girls not to play a sport that’s “for boys.” How can USA Hockey and others work to counter that pressure and keep young girls from giving up the game as they mature?
- The WNBA has done wonders at making basketball acceptable for young girls. Would a more robust professional women’s hockey league have a similar effect?
I know these aren’t perfect questions, but they’re at least reasonable and interesting. Sure, there are other directions that a interviewer might take. But at the least, these questions show an understanding that Ms.Knight isn’t being interviewed because she’s pretty. She’s being interviewed because she’s one of the best hockey players in the world.
Meanwhile, Hilary Knight is going to be taking Twitter questions via the @USAHockey twitter account tonight (October 7) at 5pm ET. The hashtag will be #KnightTakeover. If you get the chance, you might want to ask her some real questions.
UPDATE: @Doogie2k brought this to my attention on twitter. My apologies for missing this.