Monday, March 31, 2008

Ice Girls: Yay or Nay?

I shake my head in complete disappointment.

Months ago I applauded the Kings organization for not subjecting its fans (particularly the female fanbase) to Ice Girls. I poked fun at some of the Ice Girls employed by other teams (Dallas and Nashville). And it was to my utter disappointment that I noticed Ice Girls at the Kings/Dallas game on Saturday, March 29th. The Kings website even has a small article stating:

"No your eyes were not deceiving you, those were Ice Girls at the Kings - Stars game on Saturday, March 29. It was a trial run, and the Kings are giving the chance for their fans to submit feedback. Fill out the form below and let us know what you thought of it."

Naturally, I wanted to voice my anger so I filled out the feedback form (complete with email address and phone number! because I really hope they call me so I can voice my opinion directly to someone) (remaining post after the jump and if you're interested in reading ckim's rant, click here.):

"This entire season (at least until Saturday) I was proud to say that the LA Kings did not have ice girls. Rather, the team had the Kings Crew, which did a fine job of getting the crowd riled up and most importantly, scraping the ice during TV timeouts. Yes, I am a female fan (I've been a fan since 1988), and yes, I think it is ridiculous and a complete disgrace to have "ice girls". The only thing I am thankful for, is that the Kings organization does not have them scantily clad like other franchises (NY Islanders, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, etc). I do not understand the purpose of them, because seriously, if the fans want to see hot girls, they know to go to a Lakers game. The LA Kings are about hockey, not ice girls. If their sole purpose is to scrape the ice, then why not have a group of guys who can do it more efficiently? I wonder if this is just a sorry ploy by the Kings management to fill seats and/or entertain the male fanbase. Because the answer is no. If you want to fill seats and keep everyone happy, then fill a roster that can be competitive with the rest of the NHL and employ a coaching staff that can lead this young group of talented players into the playoffs. There is no absolutely no need for ice girls at Kings games."

Too harsh? I think not. I'm worried that I come across as some hot-headed feminist, when in reality I'm just hot-headed. I could really care less about the feminist movement and all that hoopla...really, women can vote? I didn't know that since I can't remember the last time I voted...women can drive? Are you sure that's a good idea? Because I don't know why anyone lets me drive and I'm fairly certain every other female is just as bad a driver as I am. Women are allowed to talk? That's not what my fiance says...he always says women aren't funny and I have to agree with him. Anyhoo...all I'm sayin' is that it's a goddamn hockey game...why do we need Ice Girls? They won't be able to compete with Laker Girls and the guys who have been scraping the snow all season long do an excellent job already. Those poor guys...out of a job because of some bimbo who wants to shake her booty in front of Cammy. Those guys probably think these ladies are like the immigrants that come into town and steal their jobs while getting paid a fraction of what they were receiving...oh did I go too far?

Later in the day one part of KingsCast left a long-winded comment explaining why everything I wrote was incorrect. His comment is as follows:
I have to disagree with your post here. There has been this "ice girls" movement across the entire NHL as of late and fans, mostly, seem to be responding favorably. I recently attended a Panther game where "ice girls" danced instead of picking up the ice. During intermission, they were at a table signing autographs. Men and women alike stood in line to meet them. Fan favorites? Absolutely. Hot as hell? No doubt.

You say in your blog. "I do not understand the purpose of them, because seriously, if the fans want to see hot girls, they know to go to a Lakers game." Really? The Lakers are a pretty good team with multiple championships, franchise players and an unbelievably supportive fan base. I don't think the Laker girls are the reason they continually sell out Staples Center (although it is a bit of a bonus).

"The LA Kings are about hockey, not ice girls." Are they? In 40 years there are no Cups, one trip to the finals and, maybe, 2 franchise players with two in the making. The attendance at games is down. Fans are fed up.

Now, I have a pretty strong marketing background. If I ran a psycho-graphic analysis on the fans that attend Kings games, I would expect that the large marjority would be open to, at least, trying ice girls. Yes, most hockey fans are probably male of a moderate income. That's why they didn't put Chippendales out on the ice. The ice girls are, for lack of a better term "a value-added service". That doesn't sound quite right but it does make the point.

I think Connie made the point of asking why they carried the heavy buckets of ice around. Now there's a point I agree with! No one wants to see an attractive girl haul around two hundred pounds of ice while sweating out of her unitard.

You go on to say "If you want to fill seats and keep everyone happy, then fill a roster that can be competitive with the rest of the NHL and employ a coaching staff that can lead this young group of talented players into the playoffs." You got that right! However, you are off your point. One thing has nothing to do with the other. This is a marketing tool. So is "We Play for LA" and "Play Hard". How well did that do?

I guess I'm not sure what exactly your problem is with our "ice girls". If it's a "sex sells" thing, I point to Budweiser or Wrigley Spearmint Gum or Starbucks (think product placement). They would be dead without it. For the Kings to attempt to use this marketing ploy as a way to bring money to the bottom line to enhance such things as your fan experience is not a bad thing. They are trying to play to their target market.

If your problem is exploitation of women, then it is certainly a matter of ethics. While, ethically, I don't have a problem with it I can't say that you're wrong there either. It's just a difference of values.

Regardless, my opinion is that the ice girls should stay.

I respect both yours and Connie's blogs and will continue to read them and support them. But I still think you're both wrong.

Since I highly value Keith's opinion and appreciate his comment and felt like I needed to respond so I wrote the following:

I agree with most of his points but I think I need to explain myself. My "feedback" was written in about 2 minutes tops with hardly any thought in between reading the article and writing my feedback, which is why my argument is quite disjointed. It was more of a "rant against Ice Girls" than an argument as to "why Ice Girls should not be in LA".

My main argument in this discussion for why Ice Girls should not be in LA is mainly because (and I may be wrong since I wasn't around in the early days of hockey) "cheerleaders" are not a hockey tradition. Ever since I've been a hockey fan, hockey games were different than basketball and football because they didn't have girls cheering the guys on. This was one aspect of the game that I loved and appreciated. You want to see girls on ice skates? Go to a figure skating competition. Whenever I rarely happen to watch a football game, I can't stand it when the cameras pan over the cheerleaders for an extended period of time. Show me the players! Show me replays! I could give a shit about what these girls look like! Unless you're at a high school football game, those cheerleaders don't get the crowd into the game. I honestly don't know why cheerleaders are even a part of football and basketball since I'm not entirely sure what their purpose is but I guess it's because they've been a part of the leagues for quite some time. But that's a completely different discussion...

Another reason I don't think ice girls are necessary is because they look ridiculous trying to shovel ice. I was at the Ducks/Kings game with Connie and we both commented on how slow the girls looked and how feeble they looked trying to shovel snow. The guys shoveling ice at the Kings game are quick and nondistracting. No girl can make shoveling ice look attractive so why even put them in that situation?

Another reason why I don't think the girls are necessary for non-scraping ice activities is because I would rather see 5-year olds play hockey, sumo wrestling, or hamster-bubble-wheel races during intermission than an ice dance show (which hopefully, for the love of god, will not occur next season). I know a lot of teams have been putting together Ice Girls and most have been favorably accepted but I just don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm a girl. Maybe it's also because I'm not the type of girl who thinks being an Ice Girl is awesome...(see my post about the Nashville Ice Girls). And maybe it's also because I don't understand what the attraction is to meet a cheerleader or Ice Girl...why are they famous? why do people care about them that much to actually wait in a line and get an autograph? Perhaps there's a reader out there who has gotten an autograph from an Ice Girl and can shine some light on the topic.

Will Ice Girls really help sell tickets? I don't really see how this is possible, but maybe that's because I'm not in marketing. Maybe it'll help sell tickets for a short while, but as long as the team still sucks, I don't see how Ice Girls will solve any problems. If the Kings are desperately trying to sell tickets I think other types of promotions may be more successful. What types? I don't know, I'm not in marketing. I guess I'm not really seeing this "added-value service" thing. Beer girls get people interested in the product...will Ice Girls get people interested in the Kings?? (How about making the players more accessible to fans? THAT will get more people interested in the team.) I brought up the Kings' poor performance because part of me thinks the Kings organization wants to bring in Ice Girls to distract fans and still sell tickets. I still don't think I'm completely off-base for bringing it up, it's just one point to my multi-pointed rant about Ice girls.

I don't care about the 'sex' sells thing, because I know sex sells...hell, even I'm inclined to show a bit more cleavage if I want better bar service...and yes, it works. My main problem is I don't see what their purpose is. If I'm at a game that is horrible, seeing Ice Girls isn't going to make me say, "Well, the Ice Girls made up for the Kings' lack of effort." But then again, maybe a guy would think the exact opposite. Maybe if I saw some hard evidence that showed that fans really do want them around, that they help drive ticket sales, and/or help increase the attitude of fans at games, then I would be more receptive of them. But right now, they seem pointless to me.

Dear HLOG readers, I ask you, what's your opinion of Ice Girls, and please mention if you're female or male (since it is possible that the male species may be lurking around these parts of the interweb). I know that some of you have witnessed Ice Girls all season long and I am curious to hear what your initial reactions were when they were first introduced to your team and what your feelings are now.


Steph said...

I am really glad that we don't have them. Instead, we have guys AND girls, wearing Wings jerseys and black pants who skate around, scrape the ice, and pick up octopi with their bare hands.

Heck I wouldn't be ashamed to do that job.

Anonymous said...

Word sister. I'm sick of them flipping to the ice girls on the side during the Blackhawks games. It simply gets me mad because those girls don't even pretend to care about the game. All they do is blow kisses at the camera, jump up and down, and, frankly, look like stupid bimbos. How stupid of a concept is girls wearing nothing trying to shovel snow. I think it gives a terrible impression of female """""fans""""". Because, in essence, they are representing the """"feminine""""" side of hockey and they do a terrible job at it. They smile, wear revealing clothes, have perfect bodies and are, generally, beautiful. I just want to punch some of them in the face.

Kerri said...

Anti-Ice Girl! NAY!

There is no need for the North American culture to be litered with half naked (SKINNEY! and BLONDE!) females. How about real girls, who have hips and the occasional zit. How about the lack of appeal to female fans, who don't get to watch half naked males prance all over the ice. Put the players in speedos, and then we'll talk. No, wait, that would have more to do with a hockey game than ice girls do.

Listen, I was mad enough last season when they picked on my goaltender (*lol*). Even cheerleaders, I mean, they ahve a point. They do atheletic stuff. Ice girls have no point but to sell sex... and to think hockey is now pushing to be a family sport, and no more "(Players Name) SUCKS!" chants.

But it's OK to show girls that dressing like a slut can get you somewhere in life? It's OK to show little Islander or Predator fans that they have to be skinney skinney, and blonde, and beautiful, otherwise they don't count?

Give me a heavy ice girl and maybe I'll change my mind. Give me an ice girl without a model's body and who is smart, and who IS a good role model. Then, maybe I'll change my mind.

What about us? The disenfranchised female fan of the wonderful sport of hockey. The fans who don't see people like themselves playing the game on a professional level, the fans who don't see coaches like them or announcers like them. This is how we're suppose to to be recognized?

No thank you.

Shmee said...

KMS2, every point you make is valid. They serve no purpose other then the off chance that they might bring in a few fans. And I really dont even think that is true. No one stand in the freezing cold to get tix to a Giants game to see the cheerleaders, they do it for the game. So what is the benefit to having Ice Girls at hockey? Nothing. The Caps have been considering doing it too and I swear that I will have to re-consider my season tix if they do.

Shan said...

I say Nay because it's stupid and people should go to the games for the hockey. I think cheerleaders are a useless form of additional entertainment in all sports. Even cheerleading itself as a "sport" does not impress me. Dancing, yes. Human pyramids, yes. Give me an L, no. But hey, I'm sure there are some who appreciate it solely for its athletic value and they may do so at cheerleading tournaments. Keep it out of other sports and the NHL. It doesn't belong in the NBA any more than the NHL, it's just that people have gotten used to it in basketball and football. Let's not corrupt more sporting events. And let's not fool ourselves into thinking cheerleading is about much more than the objectification of the female body.

Cat said...

I am really glad that we don't have them. Instead, we have guys AND girls, wearing Wings jerseys and black pants who skate around, scrape the ice, and pick up octopi with their bare hands.

Why can't we have that here? Why can't everyone have that?! Why do we need Ice Girls? I mean, okay, here's the thing. I don't think I've ever really fully complained and/or ranted about it (aside from the new practice of dancing Ice Girls, which just seems ludicrous to me). I don't really mind having them there for publicity things, honestly. I guess I'm torn on the subject. I don't mind them, but at the same time I get annoyed because of the constant need to have semi-scantily clad women around any male-dominated sport. Let's see scantily clad male cheerleaders at, like, WNBA games or something.

KMS2 said...

Steph, the Kings have always had (for the past several seasons at least) the Kings Crew which is a coed group that give out freebies, get the crowd pumped up, manage intermission shows, etc. If I was a college kid out here I definitely would have tried out to be part of the Kings Crew. There's also a group of guys who do the ice scraping. I have always been fine with that and can't understand why it should change.

scantily clad male cheerleaders

I'm cracking up just trying to imagine this.

Everyone, thanks for your input!

leanne said...

Why have mascots, either, then?

Unlike the bulk of the commenters, I'm mostly indifferent to the whole ice girl phenomenon. Ours aren't particularly over the top, but really, they're no less practical than parka-clad cheerleaders in November in CFL games on the prairies, in temperatures well below zero.

I mean, they don't turn my crank, they're not my thing, but I understand why they're there. Since I started watching hockey, ticket prices have gone up 2x to 10x depending on the seat for Flames games, and like the new Jumbotron, and the round-the-rink-lights, and the huge torches that jet out when we score and the lights and the music (I remember when we only had about 5 things the organ could play, in the 80s!), it's about entertain value for the dollar.

They need to justify why we pay the same prices for the same game, and part of the answer is, they're giving us a bigger show.

So, whatever. I recognized long ago I'm hardly a typical fan, a typical girl, or anywhere near their target shrug. Nobody's forcing me to look at the T&A, and well...nobody's forcing me to be the T&A. For the five minutes during a TV timeout, I can find something else to do.

Lucky13 said...

No ice girls!! Ever!! In fact, I say down with all cheerleaders. This is the sort of social pressure, i.e., to be physically perfect from head to toe, that causes girls to go nuts about their appearance. I'm no feminist, but I do think that this sort of promotion reinforces the women-as-objects notion. How can women expect to be taken seriously when they support ice girls (shit - can't they even call them ice women, or is that too threatening?)

KMS2 said...

Why have mascots, either, then?
Ugh, I can't stand mascots...don't even get me started.

Since I started watching hockey, ticket prices have gone up 2x to 10x depending on the seat for Flames games,
Leanne, it's nice to hear from a girl who is indifferent. However, have the ticket prices gone up because of the ice girls? I feel like ticket prices go up (and this is just me making assumptions) because franchises are losing money, inflation (prices on most things go up every year), because they can, new arenas, etc...not necessarily because they have ice girls, handout freebies (via Kings Crew or some other way), or provide other entertainment other than a hockey game.

Anyone in the business world want to shed some light on this?

leanne said...

KMS: No, ticket prices have gone up because of inflation, sustained demand, the joys of being a small market, higher operating costs and the resident population having more than doubled since those early days...

I'm just saying ice girls are a way to provide the ticketholder with better perceived value, for a relatively small investment. Whether you choose to perceive it ... up to you :)

Dare said...

Anti-ice girls, anti-"just look away".

I think that, regardless of whether or not men make up the majority of fans, utilizing scantily-clad women to appeal to them serves to reinforce the idea of women as something there for men's pleasure, satisfaction, and entertainment. I also think that a significant majority of marketing is directed towards men, which helps to maintain the male-dominated field of sport spectatorship, but that's a topic for a different day.

I mean, I can't even say "good for the girls for profiting off the idiotic ogling of men" because the pay they receive is typically ridiculously minimal. I wish I could remember what magazine it was in, but a student of mine brought an article in last semester that really made light of how its pretty much regarded as a "privilege" to be a pro-team cheerleader, that they get paid like crap, and in the end, most have spent more trying to achieve the required cheerleader look than they make doing what they do.

The Toronto Marlies have a dance team and it's really creepy to see who watches/follows them. Actually, I find this almost more disconcerting, given that the Marlies are trying to target families/children/etc. as their fan base - what a great message to send...

For the record, however, I am cool with mascots.

Nadine said...

Anti-Ice Girl. Big fat NAY.

As a female fan, I get no value-added benefit to their being there because I'm not attracted to them, I don't appreciate the objectification of women, and it does not present the family-friendly image that the NHL says it wants to achieve.

(I can't say anything negative about their builds. I buy my clothes from the petites and kiddie sections...sue me.)

From my years of marketing and communications work, much of the thought behind a move like this is by and for the type of fan who does his thinking with his pants. I've seen it first hand! (Remember my comment to Sherry on why the pink jerseys all look the same so that you can't tell which team the female fan represents without being right up on her?)

Dare is dead-on with her comment that most ice girls receive little or no pay and spend vastly more trying to maintain the image.

My question: Have the teams that have had their ice girls longer and publicize them more conducted any research on ice girl stalking by their "fans?" It's happened with various other professional sport cheerleaders. Much as I love hockey, I don't see it skipping out on this unfortunate phenomenon forever.

Ellie said...

didn't an islander goalie trip up an ice girl last year and got in trouble?

another question - are ice girls strictly the girls who skate around? we have cheer leader type girls but they mostly stay in the stands wearing mid drift shirts and such. sigh. can't we just watch the damn game and the little kids that come out and play a game during intermission?

Kerri said...

didn't an islander goalie trip up an ice girl last year and got in trouble?

That was a Ranger goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. And he "pushed" her... oh, and the rest of the Rangers spit on her and cursed her out. Yeah.

Ice girls are a rough subject if you're a Ranger fan from Long Island. So no further comment on that from me.

Sasky said...

I have a favourite ice girl. I have to admit. There's an ice girl in boston who's studying medicine played college hockey and beats every single fan in ice girl v the fan shoot out. she's like 20 - 0 for the season.

If we had like a team of her's i'd be okay.

And i can't say i'd be above being an ice girl. I'd just be the trashy, loud mouthed, tiny one.

Z4Dfense said...

No cheerleading in hockey... its just dumb. We have dancers... they entertain during 2nd intermission by dancin on the ice. I'd rather have something else but whatever, since I smoke I don't watch them anyway. Our girls are not all skinny nor are they all blond bimbettys. I guess you could color me ambivelent on the dance team thing but place me in the nay camp if these chicks start in w/ gimmee a C.

We have the Snow Patrol who is coed group that goes around shooting Tshirts, giving out prizes and also encompasses the ice crew that cleans during breaks... I like them better.

dani said...

Hey! I was just referred to this site! I love it! It's beautiful!

Anyways, I just saw this post and I feel strongly about saying NAY! NAY! NAY! They're just annoying. You can't dance on ice... it's called figure skating! And that's fun, but no "ice girls."

The Sabres used to have ice girls for like... one season. Then they realized they were corny and Buffalo doesn't need ice girls to fill the stands.

I mean no offense to any ice girls. I'm sure it's probably difficult and takes practice, but I still am not into that.

I like mascots, I must say. Not stupid ones, but good ones. Like Sabretooth, the cross-eyed Penguin, and Lightening Bug. Awwwwww!